Charlie Ledula almost pulled off a dramatic win for the Cosmos. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. — Deep into stoppage time of the Cosmos’ draw with Chattanooga FC Friday night, we were reminded how close a player can come to being a hero or watching his team score zero – again.
Second-half substitute Charlie Ledula came within inches of pulling off a dramatic win at the National Independent Soccer Association Fall Tournament as his six-yard header off a long free kick sailed tantalizingly just wide of the right post four minutes into injury time.
Some 90 seconds later, the referee whistled the game over, and the Cosmos had a frustrating scoreless tie.
Frustrating has been the key word at Keyworth Stadium for the Cosmos (0-1-1, 1) , who haven’t found the net in either of their Group B matches, despite dominating both encounters.
On Tuesday night, they dropped a 2-0 decision to the Cal United Strikers (1-0-0, 3 points), who met the Los Angeles Force (0-1-0, 1) in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader.
The point and tie kept the Cosmos in contention for a semifinal berth, but they will need to win and get some help from either Cal United or Chattanooga FC (1-0-1, 4), depending on the result of Friday night’s nightcap.
There was little doubt that forward Shavon John-Brown was Cosmos’ most influential attacker. The Grenada international seemingly was all over the pitch, whether he was trying force turnovers and causing havoc in the Chattanooga third. After sending a shot from atop the penalty area over the crossbar in the 65th minute, John-Brown denied by goalkeeper Alec Redington (nine saves), who swiped away his shot from the left side with his hand in the 79th minute.
There also was little doubt that head coach Carlos Mendes was in it to win it as he fielded one of his strongest forward lines this season, starting Isaac Acuna, Bledi Bardic and John-Brown.
The Cosmos did everything but score as they outshot their rivals, 20-14, while placing nine shots on target compared to Chattanooga FC’s four.
There also was little doubt they played with a sense of urgency, winning first and second balls, intercepting passes at midfield while producing some scoring opportunities. Those attempts were blocked by the defense or snared by Redington.
In the 13th minute, New York stretched the defense as Bardic fired a shot that Redington knocked away. Defenders blocked follow-up attempts by Acuna and Giuseppe Barone before clearing the ball.
A minute later, Redington caught a redirected shot by Barone before stopping Danny Szetela’s 25-yard shot in the 23rd minute.
Right fullback Pedro Galvao played a strong first half, reading the game well, overlapping and helping set up some scoring opportunities.
Cosmos goalkeeper Jesse Corke (four saves) was rarely tested, although he denied Brian Bement off a through ball in the 26th minute and off a counterattack in the 72nd minute.