Matt Lewis scored for the second consecutive match. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Cosmos’ quest of winning the NPSL Members Cup crown is in tatters.
They allowed Detroit City FC to strike twice in the opening 30 minutes, then played the rest of the chasing the game en route to a distressing 2-1 defeat at Mitchel Athletic Complex as they fell out of first place Saturday night.
The loss left the Cosmos needing the help of two rivals to win an elusive title.
The Cosmos (6-1-2, 20 points), who had their 22-game regular-season unbeaten streak snapped, saw their chances to win the championship dwindle. They must win their season finale at Napa Valley 1839 FC next Saturday and need to have Detroit City FC (7-0-1, 22) lose its final two matches. Detroit, which needs to win one of its final two games, visits Michigan Stars FC on Wednesday and hosts the Milwaukee Torrent next Saturday.
Detroit City FC, which extended its unbeaten streak to 22 games, drew first blood in the eighth minute on Cyrus Saydee’s second goal of the Members Cup season. Marcello Borges penetrated on the left flank and sent a ball into the goal that was knocked out to an awaiting Saydee, who powered a 15-yard shot past goalkeeper Santiago Castano.
The visitors doubled their lead on the half hour. Cosmos captain Danny Szetela was awarded a yellow card after fouling Borges 35 yards out. Danny Deakin sent a free kick toward the goal that Yazeed Matthews corralled about 10 yards out. He took a step, found some open space and fired his shot into the net for a two-goal advantage.
Cosmos center back Matt Lewis sliced the lead in half as he scored for the second consecutive match, heading in a corner kick in the 82nd minute. It was only the third goal conceded by Detroit City FC this Members Cup season.
The Cosmos had other chances but could not convert them against goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher and a defense that was anchored by a stubborn back four that blocked many shots.
Forward Bledi Bardic, making his third start of the Members Cup campaign, had the Cosmos’ two best chances. He split the defense on a long ball from the back before firing his shot just wide of the net in the 23rd minute. He tapped another long ball wide right in the 35th minute. Lewis had a close-range shot blocked by a defender in the 21st minute.
At the start of the second half, Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes, in an attempt to jump start the attack, pulled right back Pedro Galvao for forward Charlie Ledula. Mendes reset the Cosmos formation, using three defenders and three strikers.
Steinwascher made his best save of the night in the 55th minute when he dove to his left to deny Junior Burgos’ 20-yard effort. Burgos made some nifty moves to penetrate the defense but sent his attempt wide right in the 71st minute.