Finally, it felt like home.
The Cosmos picked up their first victory at Coney Island’s MCU Park, mounting a big-time comeback to defeat Puerto Rico FC 4–3 on May 14. The squad clawed back from an early two-goal deficit to grab a key three points and jump into second place in the league standings.
“We came out flat, but we turned it around so quick,” said defender Ryan Richter. “Even before [the red card] we started to change the pressure and the game was turning for us. To come back the way we did and get that win at home, it was huge.”
Puerto Rico took an early lead on goals from Giuseppe Gentile and Emery Welshman and nearly built a three-goal cushion in the 31st minute, with one of the squad’s shots coming up just short of the net.
The game changed, however, when Puerto Rico midfielder Yuma was whistled for a red card and dismissed after his challenge on Juan Guerra in the 36th minute. The call put Puerto Rico down a man for the remainder of the match and, suddenly, the Cosmos had new life.
“I think the red card completely changed the game. Not only that it was a red card, but the player that received it,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese. “He’s a guy that is able to organize a lot from the field. We start moving the ball better, we start getting confidence and then once we get confidence, things start turning to our side.”
The Cosmos got on the board in the 42nd minute on Andrés Flores’ first goal of the season. It was enough to turn the tide, and the Cosmos front line continued to bring pressure for the rest of regulation.
“We started pressing them higher, we started being more direct with our passes and not letting them out of their half,” Richter said. “After they got the red card, they couldn’t breathe after that. That’s the style we want to play and the style we’re obviously capable of.”
Guerra netted the equalizer in first-half stoppage time, connecting on a header that sailed past the hands of Puerto Rico keeper Trevor Spangenberg. Richter added his own goal — also his first of the season — in the 50th minute, giving the Cosmos a lead they would never surrender.
“That was awesome,” Richter said of Guerra’s score. “It was my first goal for the club and to be part of a huge win for us, it was pretty special.”
The two clubs each added another goal before the final whistle, but the Cosmos held on, thanks in large part to Jimmy Mauer’s performance in net. The veteran keeper made a key save in the 81st minute to preserve the victory.
“Listen, he’s one of the best goalies in the U.S.,” Richter said of Mauer. “There’s not many people who would doubt that who’ve seen him play. I’ve played with a lot of good goalies, but he’s up there. He’s one of the best.”
The Cosmos squad was pleased with the win, but isn’t interested in digging out of any more early-game holes. Finally with a home-turf win, the defending champs are looking to build on that.
“The reality is we don’t practice on this field,” Savarese said. “But little-by-little, the more games we start playing, the more we’re going to get used to it and I think today we showed we’re growing every game more and more.”
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