There was a lot of celebrating going on among NYCFC, the Red Bulls and Cosmos Saturday. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Don’t know if anyone noticed, but the soccer stars — not necessarily the ones on the field but the ones in the heavens — actually aligned for three New York soccer teams Saturday night.
For the first time, New York City FC, the Red Bulls and Cosmos won on the very same day.
That’s right, all three teams won within hours of each other.
Now, all three clubs have been around for two-plus seasons and not everyone played on the same day.
The Red Bulls and City clinched their victories around 9:30 p.m. while the Cosmos put the finishing touches on their win at around 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Yes, according to Eastern Time, the two-time defending champions’ win officially went into the books Sunday, but since it was in the Pacific time zone, it was still Saturday.
And the significance of that?
Well, it is a first and obviously, a good thing for each team (although if you rooted for one team and hated the other two, you would be disappointed twice).
One intriguing thing about the three wins: it kept all teams within striking distance of their respective division or league leaders.
In Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference, the Red Bulls (5-3-1, 16 points) climbed into second place surprising behind Orlando City SC (6-1-0, 18).
Breathing down the Red Bulls’ backs is City (4-3-1, 13), which is tied for the third spot along with Columbus (4-4-1, 13) and Toronto FC (3-1-4, 13).
In the eight-team NASL, the second-place Cosmos (2-1-2, 8) trail first-place Jacksonville Armada FC (2-0-3, 9). They are tied with Miami FC and North Carolina FC.
Perhaps more significantly, all three winning goals were scored in the second half; in fact, in the second half of the second half and all involved some sort of first.
In the Red Bulls’ 2-1 home triumph over the Chicago Fire, left back Kemar Lawrence snapped a 1-1 deadlock with his first goal of the season, connecting in the 71st minute.
In NYCFC’s 3-2 road win at Columbus Crew SC, Jack Harrison capped a comeback from a 3-2 deficit with his second goal of the encounter in the 76th minute after Yangel Herrera tallied his first goal with City.
And in the Cosmos’ 1-0 away victory at the San Francisco Deltas, Emmanuel Ledesma tallied his first goal as a member of the team in the 69th minute.
The teams also showed some form of resilience.
On Dax McCarty night at Red Bull Arena, the Red Bulls took a 1-0 lead before the Fire equalized (as McCarty helped to set up the visitors’ goal). Lawrence, who missed a golden opportunity in the first half, took advantage of rare second opportunity for a fullback for the game-winner.
Despite playing without two of its Designated Players, captain David Villa (illness) and midfielder Andrea Pirlo (benched), NYCFC rallied past Columbus with two goals within a 12-minute span.
And the Cosmos, who will not be confused with a high-scoring juggernaut this NASL spring season (four goals in five matches, seven in the league), found a way to register their second road win and hand the Deltas (1-1-3, 6) their first loss since joining the league as an expansion team this year.
As for further significance of the three wins, they will all go for naught if the teams don’t continue recording W’s and adding three points to their respective accounts on a fairly regular basis.
Just wondering how many more times the stars will align for all three sides in the coming six months when they play on the same date.