Minnesota Drops Three Points To Cosmos
In one of the more difficult matchups through the first five games of the season, Minnesota United FC (4W-0D-1L, 12pts) dropped its first match of the 2014 North American Soccer League campaign 1-0 to the New York Cosmos (3W-0D-2L, 9pts).
"It hurts, we didn't play that well," said United Head Coach Manny Lagos. "We got a little better in the second half and maintained a little more possession, but we couldn't pull it out. I felt like we had been playing better soccer than we showed tonight."
A Marcos Senna goal in the 61st minute was all that New York needed to claim three points on a rainy Monday night in James Shuart Stadium on the Hofstra University campus.
Minnesota looked to take their first points from New York since the Cosmos joined the League in the Fall of 2013.
Straight away from the kickoff, the Cosmos took possession and put pressure on the United defense. The Cosmos won several corner kicks early and almost found pay dirt in the 13th minute when Cosmos’ defender Hunter Freeman caught a volley sweetly and put it to the lower far corner of the Minnesota net. Minnesota Goalkeeper Matt VanOekel reacted quickly and was able to get just enough of his hand on the ball to push it wide.
Minnesota continued to struggle with possession, but was strong in back – absorbing the unrelenting Cosmos attack. Midfielder Simone Bracalello did well to stop the ball from being played into the box on several occasions and matched the runs of Cosmos winger’s Johnson and Diomar Diaz as they streaked forward.
The Cosmos were forced into an early substitution in the 29th minute when Diaz pulled up with an injury after making an incisive run into the box. Though the Cosmos continued to keep the ball and put pressure on Minnesota, they were unable to put the ball into the back of the net and the first half ended with the sides level at 0-0.
The Cosmos started the second half much the same as the first and looked as though they would open scoring when Johnson played a dangerous ball across the box to a wide open Mads Stokkelien who pushed his header strong and wide.
The Cosmos continued to put pressure on the Minnesota defenders and found their opening off of a corner kick that was pushed long to Senna who controlled the ball outside of Minnesota's box and rifled a lower curling effort through defenders and into the lower left corner of VanOekel's net, giving the Cosmos the 1-0 edge.
Each team would exchange possession for the remainder of the contest, with Minnesota forward Christian Ramirez having United's best opportunity in the 84th minute, but strong defending from the Cosmos’ Carlos Mendes was enough to keep Ramirez from making great contact with the ball.
Ramirez looked like scoring again in the 88th minute, after a cross landed at his feet and he did well to settle near the penalty spot and turned quickly to put a shot on net. However, Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer was positioned well on his goal line and easily collected the shot. This was to be the last true chance for Minnesota as the final whistle would blow, giving United its first loss of the season. Despite the loss, Minnesota remains tied for first place in the NASL standings on points.
"We have to get our heads up going into this weekend," Lagos said, looking ahead to this weekend's match against the first place Fort Lauderdale Strikers. "They are a team that has scored a lot of goals recently and we hope to maintain our recent form at home."
Minnesota returns home to the National Sports Center Stadium this Saturday, May 17th. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CDT. For tickets, fans can call 763.4SOCCER or head to www.MNUnitedFC.com/tickets
Minnesota lineup: GK Matt VanOekel; D Justin Davis (Yellow Card, 63rd), Cristiano Dias, Tiago Calvano (Yellow Card, 39th), Brian Kallman; M Aaron Pitchkolan, Juliano Vicentini (SUB: Michael Reed, 45th; Yellow Card, 22nd), Miguel Ibarra, Simone Bracalello (SUB: Jamie Watson, 64th) , Daniel Mendes (SUB: Mackenzie Pridham, 77th); F Christian Ramirez
Minnesota unused subs: GK Mitch Hildebrandt, D Tyler Polak, M Floyd Franks, Greg Jordan
New York Cosmos lineup: GK Jimmy Maurer; D Hunter Freeman, Carlos Mendes, Roversio, Ayoze; M Joseph Nane, Diomar Diaz (SUB: David Diosa, 29th) Marcos Senna, Paulo Mendes (SUB: Allesandro Noselli, 57th); F Mads Stokkelien, Jemal Johnson (SUB: Daniel Szetela, 79th)
New York Cosmos unused subs: GK Kyle Zobeck; D Hunter Gorskie, Jimmy Ockford; M Daniel Szetela, Hagop Chirishian
NYC - Marcos Senna - 61st