Ayoze battles for the ball in the Cosmos’ 2-0 home defeat. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Christian Arnold
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Cosmos can’t buy a win at home, and that streak continued on Saturday night when New York was shutout 2-0 by North Carolina Football Club.
It was another tough loss for the Cosmos, who desperately needed points in the North American Soccer League combined table to keep their postseason dreams alive.
A pair of goals bookended the first half and allowed North Carolina, which had not beaten the Cosmos since Sept. 20, 2014, to pick up three points in the standings. The Cosmos finish a three game home stand with a 0-1-2 record and were winless (0-2-6) in eight consecutive matches entering Saturday night.
“The two goals you could say it kinda was a big hit to us,” Cosmos striker Eugene Starikov said. “We were playing well. We had some chances and didn’t score. These guys have two counter attacks and get two goals. Disappointing, unfortunate I guess, but I mean we’re still hanging on so we have to continue to move forward.”
North Carolina’s first goal was a blow to New York in the 12th minute after the Cosmos maintained a steady amount of time in NCFC’s end. The Cosmos had two chances in the first five minutes of the game and starter Brian Holt made a good save on a Carolina chance in the fourth minute.
Renan Gorne took advantage of a Carolina scoring chance when he got behind the Cosmos defenders unnoticed and buried a shot in the corner from inside the box. The goal was Gorne’s third of the season and gave North Carolina an early lead.
North Carolina added to their lead during stoppage time at the end of the first half. Nazmi Albadawi was able to muscle off a Cosmos defender and move towards the side of the net. Albadawi sent the ball across the box and connected with Austin Da Luz, who settled the ball and fired it past an out of position Holt.
“Today we had a very good start, we did a lot of good things and then I think we gave up two goals easy,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “In the past two games, now it’s three games, it was difficult for us to have the energy to change the game. We tried, but you can tell the guys they couldn’t go anymore. The two goals killed us, and even though we tried, [North Carolina] felt pretty much in control defending.”
The loss on Saturday wasn’t for a lack of chances. The Cosmos outplayed Carolina through most of the 90-minute affair and led in most if not every stat category. They held an advantage in possession 63-37, outshot Carolina 13-8 on total shots and the Cosmos also had six corner opportunities.
However, Carolina keeper Brian Sylvestre was superb in net when he had to be and the defense did a good job clearing the ball late in the game.
The Cosmos are now three points behind of North Carolina in the combined table, but still tied at 33 points with Jacksonville, which plays on Sunday. New York’s playoff hopes are not entirely dashed, but the losses and the points they’ve given up are starting to pile up.
And the team’s inability to win at home has become beyond head scratching. New York has not won at MCU Park since July 29 against Miami.