domingo, 16 de outubro de 2016

New York Cosmos defeat Jacksonville Armada 4-2; claim NASL Fall and Combined titles

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The New York Cosmos defeated the Jacksonville Armada 4-2 with a come from behind win that included two Juan Arango free kick goals.
Coupled with an FC Edmonton loss in Minnesota, the Cosmos also laid claim to the 2016 NASL Fall and Combined season titles, giving them the #1 seed and hosting rights to their playoff matches.
14642115_1105350512835430_9087533193458220257_nThe Cosmos kept the 4-1-4-1, making a number of changes.
With Carlos Mendes not making the 18 after his injury last week, David Ochieng returned to take his spot as Roversio also returned for the first time since September 10th, paired up with the Kenyan.
After suffering a season-ending injury, Sebastian Guenzatti’s spot on the right wing was occupied by Andres Flores.
Jairo Arrieta remained alone up top. No other forward was available for the second straight match as Yasmani Duk was on international duty and Lucky Mkosana was left out for the second straight match after picking up a knock in practice.
While the Cosmos looked like the more dangerous side early, the Armada nearly got on the board early. In the 18th minute, Jimmy Maurer left the box to chest down a ball in a dangerous position and prevent a breakaway. He was unable to clear it and Pekka Lagerblom nearly made New York pay as his shot just sailed over the bar of a wide-open net.
The boys in green would break the deadlock in the 23rd minute as the midfield made a push with Yohandry Orozco sending to Juan Arango at midfield. Arango delivered a ball to Arrieta who had a shot from the right side, but Miguel Gallardo got a hand on it. Orozco, completing his run, was there to clean up the loose ball to give New York the lead.
Roversio’s night came to a premature end yet again, exiting in the 57th minute for Jimmy Ockford.
Jimmy Maurer’s night almost came to an early end too when he aggressively left his box again in the 61st minute to prevent a breakaway by Zach Steinberger. His slide missed the ball and the player went to ground, but no foul was given, despite cries from Steinberger who eventually received a yellow for dissent.
The Armada equalized in the 66th as the Cosmos were unable to clear a ball and a series of collisions between Charles Eloundou and Alhassane Keita with the Cosmos’ back line ended with Keita firing one high into the net.
The Armada pulled ahead in the 79th when Alhassane Keita blasted a shot from outside the box while open. Maurer went to ground to make the save and Steinberger raced into the box to finish the chance.
Ruben Bover [Photo: Jacksonville Armada]
Ruben Bover [Photo: Jacksonville Armada]
But, the Cosmos were not done as an 83rd minute free kick from Arango struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced down before Gallardo plucked it out of the net mid-bounce. The referees signaled for a goal and the Armada swarmed the linesman in protest, but to no avail.
To add insult to injury, the Armada went down to ten men when Alhassane Keita was ejected for booting a ball away after the goal, receiving his second yellow of the evening.
Five minutes later, the Venezuelan struck, yet again, on a free kick as he powered one past Gallardo. The goal made him the highest scorer in Cosmos’ modern history, edging out Spanish legend Marcos Senna.
The game turned uglier with more fouls and chippy play as the Armada players were upset over a series of perceived non-calls. But, in the fifth minute of stoppage, Arrieta put the game out of reach as he fired a ball from outside the box after a pass from substitute David Diosa.
The win extends their unbeaten streak to four games with only one loss in their last 14 matches.But, most importantly, it gave them their second straight Combined Season title and their first Fall Season title since 2013 and the reboot year, giving them hosting rights during the 2016 playoffs.
The Cosmos now return home for a showdown with Miami FC and a trio of familiar faces next weekend. They’ll follow that up by closing out the regular season in Minnesota a week later.

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