The Cosmos and Al-Hilal FC line up prior to their international friendly. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – The Cosmos and Al-Hilal FC played to a scoreless draw Saturday night.
The two-time defending North American Soccer League champions postponed a game against FC Edmonton, scheduled for Saturday, until June 7 to play in the international friendly.
“It was a good game against a very good team,” Cosmos defender David Ochieng said in a press release. “We are thankful to come and play Al-Hilal.”
New York’s first chance to open the score came in the eighth minute when defender Ryan Richter found space on the right wing, crossing the ball to midfielder Andrés Flores, who curled the ball on top of the net. Richter continued to be a presence in the attack, sending a shot just wide in the 27th minute.
The visitors defended well, keeping Al-Hilal from finding the target. The Cosmos’ back line and goalkeeper Brian Holt managed to avert occasional danger.
A tame second half saw the ball mostly in midfield until Al-Hilal tested Holt in the 72nd minute. Holt came through with save and defender Dejan Jaković cleared the ball from the penalty area. The game picked up pace after midfielder Salvatore Barone made his Cosmos debut, coming on as a second-half sub for veteran defender Ayoze. Barone gave forward Irvin Herrera an opportunity in front of the net as the Cosmos were denied by the Al-Hilal goalkeeper.
The Cosmos spent more time in the opponent’s box late in the game and had a stoppage-time attempt by Flores that went wide.
“The atmosphere at the stadium was great,” Cosmos midfielder Juan Guerra said. “It was an honor to come all the way from America to play [in Riyadh]. We felt very welcome.”
The Cosmos return to MCU Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. Saturday, May 27 at 7 p.m. to host the San Francisco Deltas.