The Cosmos took an early lead, but could not hold it. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
MIAMI – The Cosmos were eliminated from the North American Soccer League spring championship race Saturday night.
They dropped a 2-1 decision to 10-man Miami FC at Riccardo Silva Stadium.
New York, which lost an early one-goal lead, played the final 31 minutes a man up after former New York City FC midfielder Kwadwo Poku was awarded a straight red card.
“We did things the right way and had possession, but were unlucky to find the second goal,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “We tried to win the match, but Miami defended themselves well with 10 men. We will continue to work hard until the end of the spring season.”
New York looked ready for a repeat of its 2-0 win in April, putting pressure on the hosts from the opening kickoff. Emmanuel Ledesma picked up a Javi Márquez chip after a Blake Smith giveaway to craft a sixth-minute shot from the top of the box, nutmegging a defender to score his third goal in six games.
The hosts tried to equalize three minutes later, but were denied by the post.
The game got more physical as Miami aimed to gain control. Stéfano Pinho’s shot from the edge of the penalty area deflected off Dejan Jaković and into the net, bringing the teams level in the 20th minute.
Two minutes later, Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer denied Miami the lead, parrying to his right to clear a left-footed shot from Dylan Mares. Maurer was back in action in the 37th minute, coming off his line to block a Blake Smith half-volley at close range.
The Cosmos had a tough start to the second half, as a 47th minute corner kick resulted in Miami’s second goal. Richie Ryan’s in-swinger found Vincenzo Rennella, whose header from point-blank range put the hosts ahead, 2-1.
New York responded by testing keeper Daniel Vega twice in the 55th minute. Márquez and Ledesma forced Vega to save.
The hosts were shaken up again four minutes later, after Poku was issued a straight red card for an elbow to the face of Jimmy Mulligan.
The Cosmos increased their presence in the final third, eager to capitalize against a 10-man Miami. Set pieces gave New York a slew of opportunities. Substitute Pablo Vranjicán got his head on the ball in the 83rd and 86th minutes, but couldn’t get on target.
A cross by Walter Restrepo in the fourth minute of stoppage time gave Vranjicán one last attempt to level the score.