Ansi Agolli, in a game last year, tallied for the Cosmos on Sunday night. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
WARWICK, N.Y. — Michael Bello scored 16 seconds into stoppage to lift New Amsterdam FC into a dramatic 1-1 draw with the Cosmos in the expansion team’s first competitive match, in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the NISA Independent Cup on Saturday night.
Veteran midfielder Ansi Agolli tallied for the Cosmos in the 27th minute with a brilliant free kick at Hudson Sports Complex.
Just as the game entered injury time, the equalizing goal’s sequence started with a long punt by goalkeeper and New Amsterdam owner Laurence Girard, who came on at halftime. The ball ricocheted off a Cosmos player to a New Amsterdam player who fed Bello with a long pass. Bello split a pair of defenders before beating goalkeeper Jesse Corke.
Bello then ripped off his shirt in celebration. It was not immediately known if he was yellow cards for his act, but considering the situation and that it was New Amsterdam’s first goal ever, it certainly would have been worth it.
The Cosmos dominated for long stretches, but could not find the goal after Agolli’s score to give them some breathing room.
After midfielder Saad Afif fouled Charlie Ledula just right of the penalty area. On the ensuing free kick, Agolli looped his attempt over a two-man wall and past goalkeeper Mahamed Keita into the far post for a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute.
Agolli had another free kick opportunity in the 35th minute, but he fired this try over the crossbar.
Ledula was forced out of the game late in the opening half when he pulled up lame on a play. Bledi Bardic replaced him him.
One of New Amsterdam’s best opportunities came in the 71st minute when the Cosmos turned the ball over deep in their territory, but forward Michael Bello rifled his shot over the bar.
New Amsterdam almost equalized in the 83rd minute when a player sent the ball from the right wing toward the Cosmos goal that went through Jesse Corke’s hands on the goal line. The ball almost went in before Emmanuele Sembroni cleared the ball out of harm’s way.
Former U.S. international Eric Wynalda, who was hired as New Amsterdam head coach Thursday, did not attend the match. Instead, he watched the game from his hotel room because he had strep throat. As a precaution, Wynalda took a COVID-19 test and it came back negative.
The Cosmos will travel down to Leesburg, Va. later this week for their next two games of the competition.
On Thursday, Aug. 6, they will take FC Baltimore Christos at 8:45 p.m. before playing the Maryland Bobcats FC on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 7:35 p.m.
Both matches are scheduled for the Evergreen Sports Complex.
The Cosmos will open their abbreviated National Independent Soccer Association fall season against the Michigan Stars at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Saturday, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m.
They will return to the Hudson Sports Complex to meet New Amsterdam SC in a regular season encounter on Friday, Aug. 21 at 8 p.m.
All contests this season will be behind closed doors but will be streamed at www.mycujoo.tv.