CARY, N.C. – With time starting to wind down on the North American Soccer League season, the playoff race is heating up.
The third-place Cosmos (7-5-8, 29 points) and fourth-place North Carolina FC (7-8-6, 27) are two of seven teams still searching for three remaining bids to the postseason. The two teams will meet at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to continue their playoffs quest.
Two points separate NCFC and the Cosmos, setting up a match that could go a long way in deciding which teams claim the final playoff spots.
New York has owned the matchup, winning six of the last eight matches in the series. NCFC most recently battled New York to a 2-2 draw in Brooklyn June 10 with goals from Billy Schuler and Lance Laing.
Laing leads the way with eight goals, including two in his last three matches. NCFC’s newest striker, Renan Gorne, earned his first start last week, while Schuler and Matt Fondy have also been relied on for goals this season.
Despite the Cosmos’ strong spring season, the side’s form has dropped recently. They opened the fall season with a win over Miami, but lost to San Francisco in its next match. In its last two games, New York has drawn with lower-table sides FC Edmonton and the Indy Eleven.
Emmanuel Ledesma is the talisman for the Cosmos attack with six goals, but the team has used a variety of options to find the back of the net. Thirteen players have scored at least one goal this season for the Cosmos.
The Cosmos showed strong character to come back from an early 2-0 deficit against Indy last week before ultimately ending the game in a 3-3 deadlock. Forward Pablo Vranjicán has started to hit his stride, with two goals in the last three games.