Shavon John-Brown scored the Cosmos’ lone goal of the NISA Fall Tournament. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – We hate to use cliches, but in this instance it defined the Cosmos’ performance at the National Independent Soccer Association Fall Tournament.
If you don’t score goals, then you can’t win games. It’s as simple as that.
Yes, we know that the Cosmos did score one goal in their three Group B matches, but it was the lack of scores that made their mission to reach the semifinals virtually impossible.
They entered their final group stage match needing to score win by five goals, a difficult proposition for any team, let alone a Cosmos side that hadn’t found the back of the net in the competition yet.
Shavon John-Brown finally did, 35 seconds into second-half stoppage time, scoring off a Mattia Cella left-wing cross at the far post, but it was too little and too late in a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Force at Keyworth Stadium.
It was bad enough the Cosmos, one of the most storied clubs in American soccer history. It had to be frustrating, distressing an even embarrassing for team that has enjoying nothing but success over the years. The club that has earned eight North American Soccer League titles could score but once in three postseason matches en route to a 0-2-1 record and a scant point while finishing in the Group B basement.
Now, it will be wait until next year.
The Cosmos haven’t won a title since 2016.
The Force (2-1-0, 6) won the group and was joined in the semifinals by Chattanooga FC (1-0-2, 5), which clinched a berth with a 1-1 draw with the Cal United Strikers (1-1-1, 4) in the first game of the doubleheader.
New York played the final 13 minutes with a man advantage after LA right back Erick Villatoro was awarded his second yellow card and was dismissed by referee Jacob Little.
The Force drew first blood in the 15th minute. Jimmie Villalobos sent a cross-field pass to Cristian Gordillo, who penetrated to the right side of the penalty area and beat goalkeeper Kevin Tenjo from 10 years. Gordillo, who recorded a hat-trick in a 3-2 triumph over Cal United on Friday night, has four goals in the tourney.
The Cosmos came close to equalizing, but goalkeeper Hugo Gomez denied Geo Alves’ point-blank header in the 19th minute.
Los Angeles was given a gift via a Cosmos error to double its advantage in the 40th minute. Danny Trejo intercepted a poor pass from defender Pedro Galvao and raced in to score from the top of the penalty area for a 2-0 lead.
New York had a fantastic opportunity to cut the lead in half in the 63rd minute after Villatoro was slapped with a yellow for fouling halftime substitute Sal Barone in the box. Isaac Acuna took the ensuing PK and Gomez dove to his right to deny the forward.
Gomez also stopped second-half sub Aly Hassan twice, in the 47th minute and then with a one-hand save in the 64th minute. He also parried away Darwin Espinal’s 22-yard free kick in the 80th minute.
In Group A, Detroit City FC and Oakland Roots reached the final four with Michigan Stars and New Amsterdam FC eliminated from contention.
The semis are set for Wednesday and the final Friday