If you blinked, you missed it.
A few moments of spectacular offense were all the New York Cosmos needed to score a 4–2 win over Puerto Rico FC on June 16 at MCU Park.
New York trailed 2–1 early and struggled to find offense for much of the game, but a pair of second-half goals, in just five minutes, from midfielders Emmanuel Ledesma and Walter Restrepo gave the squad a spectacular come-from-behind victory.
Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese wouldn’t reveal the specifics of his halftime speech, but was quick to credit the team with rising to the occasion down the stretch.
“I can’t say every single thing, because then there would be all lines bleeped,” he joked. “The reality is that we needed to be a little more aggressive…and I think the second half was much better.”
The Cosmos had their first real chance in of the game in the 13th minute — and they capitalized. Cosmos defender Ayoze was able to curl a free kick around a wall of Puerto Rico defenders, past goalie Austin Pack, and into the net to give New York a one-goal lead.
It was the second straight match in which the Cosmos scored a goal within the first 15 minutes, but once again, New York couldn’t hold on.
Puerto Rico’s Jair Puerto tied the game in the 17th minute. He had a hand in the next goal as well; after his beautiful centering pass found the foot of Yuma, who simply had to extend his foot to out in order to score his first goal of the year, and give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Puerto Rico had a few chances to extend its lead late in the first half, but could not capitalize in what was a lackluster opening 45 minutes for New York, during which the Cosmos took just two shots on goal.
“I think we started good, we scored a goal. And then I think they got confidence, they scored one goal, they scored two goals and then we lost our [mindset],” Ledesma said.
The Cosmos changed their mindset in the second period, coming out with more energy in the opening minutes. Pack was forced out of the box several times early on in the half and had to make a stellar save on a rocket of a shot from Ayoze.
New York didn’t have anything to show for its efforts as the clock wound down, but in just a matter of moments, the entire complexion of the match changed.
Ledesma got it started in the 69th minute with a beautiful strike from just outside the corner of the 18-yard box to tie the game. Then, just four minutes later, Restrepo slotted away a centering pass from Irvin Herrera to give New York a 3–2 lead.
“I kicked it, and I tried to hit a target. And then when I saw the ball go to the corner…I can’t believe it,” Ledesma said of scoring the game-tying goal in his first game back from an ankle injury.
Just like that, the Cosmos generated the rally they so desperately needed. Pablo Vranjican added a stoppage time goal to extend the lead to 4–2 and put the game away and allowing the squad a bit of home-field confidence.
“We won. We got the three points. We haven’t won that many games at home, so for us it was very important to get those three points,” Savarese said. “The guys were really passionate about winning today and those three points are huge.”
Next up for the Cosmos will be a road matchup at Miami FC on June 24.