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sábado, 15 de outubro de 2016
Preview: New York Cosmos at Jacksonville Armada FC
by JAKE NUTTING
The math is simple for the New York Cosmos to secure the Fall Season championship and top postseason seed.
At the moment, four points from their final three matches will officially clinch things for the Cosmos, but they also have a shot at pulling it off this weekend with some help. A win for the Cosmos, along with either a draw or loss for both FC Edmonton and Miami FC would also solidify their spot atop the standings.
Miami ended their match against Tampa Bay 2-2 on Friday night. Now is the Cosmos turn.
A win is far from guaranteed for the Cosmos this weekend. Jacksonville Armada FC may be lingering at the bottom of the NASL standings, but the team is unbeaten in its last five. Mark Lowry’s first match since having the interim tag dropped from his title wasn’t exactly an impressive showing. After sitting last weekend out due to Hurricane Matthew, Jacksonville played to a lethargic scoreless draw with Indy Eleven at home.
Saturday, October 15, 7 p.m. ET. Community First Park.
TV/Streaming: ONE World Sports, oneworldsports.com, go90 app.
Referee: Luis Guardia
Last Meeting: Cosmos W, 3-0
Cosmos’ attack vs. Jacksonville’s defense
The scoring drought for the Cosmos’ forwards continued last week. Jairo Arrieta found scoring chances difficult to come by in Ottawa. Arrieta, Lucky Mkosona and Yasmani Duk have now failed to net a goal in the last eight matches. Duk is back from international duty after missing the last two matches and could be in line for a start or significant minutes up top to shake things up. Shifting Mkosana back up top from the wing after a few ineffective appearances might also be in store.
While Jacksonville is tied for second most goals allowed in the fall (26), the team has had a quality run in their last four outings, including three straight clean sheets. Much of that success is due to the team shutting down scoring chances for the opposition. This ability has greatly aided keeperMiguel Gallardo, who has shown a tendency to make critical errors when put under pressure.
Slight Advantage: Cosmos
Jacksonville’s attack vs. Cosmos’ defense
The attack continues to be the major hindrance to Jacksonville converting draws into wins. The team has been blanked in 14 of their 22 matches this year and only has five more goals than Puerto Rico, who sat out the Spring Season. Jacksonville is not devoid of attacking talent, though. While they haven’t been prolific finishers, speedy attackers Charles Eloundou and Alhassane Keita pose a credible threat on the counter.
Getting exposed on the counter attack could be an issue for the Cosmos if Carlos Mendes is ruled out of the match after his injury last week. Without Mendes, the team would likely call on the much younger David Ochieng and Jimmy Ockford. Ryan Richter slotted in at center back after Mendes’ exit in Ottawa, but the Cosmos will try to avoid playing him out of position as he continues to adjust to his new teammates.
Last week was an ugly shift for the typically stellar Cosmos midfield as the unit had trouble possessing the ball or developing a rhythm in the face of high pressure from Ottawa. They might not have the same problem this week given Jacksonville rarely implements the same kind of high line. With regular starter Sebastian Guenzatti done for the year with a ruptured ACL, the Cosmos will have at least one change in midfield. Andres Flores is the most likely candidate to get the starting nod, and the Salvadoran international is the type of player most coaches would love to have on their bench.
Nicklas Maripuu and Lucas Scaglia provide steady cover for Jacksonville’s back line as defensive midfielders, but the team would like to start seeing more production out of central playmaker Pekka Lagerbloom.
It seems unfair to compare a coach who has won two league titles in three years to one who just had the interim tag taken off last week. Gio Savarese needs only one point in the standings to establish a new single-season record for the modern era NASL, although it seems as if that point might be hard to come by with how his squad performed last week on the road. Mark Lowry has already forged a strong bond with his players after a few months in charge, but he has yet to find a way to solve the attacking woes that undid his predecessor. Lowry’s priority for the rest of the year is making sure Jacksonville does not finish dead last in the combined standings once again.
Christian Ramirez’s untimely ankle injury could be to Juan Arango’s benefit. The Venezuelan already leads the Cosmos by a wide margin with 12 goals, but an offensive explosion in the last three matches of the Fall Season could seem him make up the difference on Ramirez (16) in the Golden Boot race.