Some unique ambiance at the Cosmos’ 1-1 tie with Jacksonville. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The result of the Cosmos’ second home game at MCU Park certainly turned out better than the first one.
Yet, it wasn’t necessarily what the two-time defending North American Soccer League champions were looking for.
The Cosmos could not hold onto a one-goal halftime advantage and settled for a 1-1 draw with Jacksonville Armada before a chilly crowd of 3,605 Saturday night.
New York (five) moved to 1-1-2 while Jacksonville (eight) remained unbeaten at 2-0-2.
The Cosmos’ home opener ended with a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Miami FC and no points.
At least this time they walked away with one point.
After Javi Marquez, the hosts’ man of the match, had lifted New York into the lead, J.C. Banks equalized in the 67th minute.
The Cosmos dominated the first half and their effort were rewarded in the 22nd minute on Marquez’s first goal as a member of the team.
After center back David Ochieng cleared the ball out of the attack third, he found Walter Restrepo. The veteran midfielder dribbled toward the penalty area and picked out Marquez, who fired a 16-yard shot with his left foot past goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell and into the lower right corner for a 1-0 advantage.
New York could have enjoyed as much as a 3-0 lead.
Restrepo had his close-range attempt blocked by a defender in the eight minute.
In the 33rd minute as overlapping right back Ryan Richter found Eugene Starikov, whose point-blank shot was saved by Patterson-Sewell.
Comapred to his superb performance in the 2-0 victory at Miami FC two weeks ago, keeper Jimmy Maurer had a relatively silent first half as he did not have to make a save.
Starikov had the Cosmos’ two best chances early on in the second half.
First, his header from the right side was grabbed by Patterson-Sewell in the 53rd minute. Restrepo started the sequence with a corner kick on the left side. He sent the ball to Ayoze on the left flank and the veteran left back looped a cross-field pass to Starikov at the far post before snapping a head that the keeper saved.
Only two minutes later, the Ukrainian forward was at it again. This time he fired a right-footed blast wide of the target.
New York could have used another goal or two as Jacksonville refused to wilt.
In the 66th minute Zach Steinberger tried testing Maurer with a looping shot from the left side that the goalkeeper tipped out of harms away.
A minute later, however, Maurer could not stop Banks’ blistering line drive from atop the penalty area that equalized at 1-1.