Kalif Alhassan connected for his first Cosmos goal to save the team from a loss. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
BROOKLYN, N.Y — The Cosmos’ home woes continued Saturday as they played North Carolina FC to a 2-2 draw at MCU Park Saturday afternon.
Second-place New York (4-2-5, 17 points) which was a sure bet of winning at home at Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. the past two North American Soccer League championship seasons, has won only once in six tries in its new home.
The Cosmos, who are 1-2-3 at MCU, have accured only six out of a possible 18 home points this season.
It could have been less had it not been for Kalif Alhassan, who struck for the equalizer in the 84th minute.
“I thought we did a lot of good things today, especially in the first half,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said. “Towards the second half we became tired, but sometimes we have to see the positive side and the positive side is that we found a goal that gave us a point today.”
Cosmos forward Eugene Starikov got his first start for the club, as well as the Cosmos’ first attempt, sending a header wide of the target in the sixth minute. Irvin Herrera opened the scoring a minute later, finishing an Ayoze cross with great precision, tallying his second goal in as many games in the seventh minute.
North Carolina tested goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer consistently right after Herrera’s goal. Maurer made several saves before the visitors managed to put in the equalizer. A Billy Schuler right-footed volley in the 11th minute from outside the box leveled the score. New York tried to respond right away, pressing forward through Ayoze, whose shot went off the side netting in the 14th minute.
The hosts had an opportunity to retake the lead in the 24th minute when Herrera found Starikov, but his shot from the center of the box went wide. Herrera went for a brace shortly after but was caught offside.
The Cosmos soon unlocked North Carolina’s defense, with Herrera testing goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre. Midfielder Walter Restrepo kept the pressure on, adding a mighty effort at the near post in the 34th minute.
The game remained even, as the visitors challenged Maurer in the 38th minute. The Cosmos keeper came through, denying Lance Laing from close range. However, Laing put North Carolina ahead in the 45th minute through a free kick, bending his shot past New York’s wall and into the net.
Both teams kept moving forward in the second half. Cosmos midfielder Javi Márquez tried to equalize the match in the 53rd minute with a left-footed shot from the center of the box. North Carolina forced Maurer to punch clear in the 55th minute as New York continued to press in the final third.
Midfielder Andrés Flores had a go at the net in the 61st minute. An excellent cross from Mulligan two minutes later found the Salvadoran, but his shot from a tight angle failed to test Sylvestre.
An 83rd minute attempt by Herrera was blocked in the box, after which substitute Alhassan got on the scoreboard, putting in his first goal in the spring season to tie the game in the 84th minute. The Ghanaian lifted the ball into the back of the net with an artful chip.
New York was hungry for more, creating danger through Márquez in the 86th. The third minute of stoppage time gave Márquez the last opportunity of the match, but Sylvestre punched the free kick clear.
The Cosmos end their three-game home stand with a face-off against Puerto Rico FC Friday at 7:30 pm.