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Searching for offense: Cosmos attack comes up short against Jacksonville

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They tried to get over the hump, but couldn’t.

The Cosmos racked up plenty of offense, but despite an aggressive attack to start the night, ended up playing Jacksonville Armada FC to a 1-1 draw at MCU Park on April 22.

The home squad controlled much of the first 20 minutes, setting the pace from the opening whistle, but were unable to translate opportunities into goals. And as it turned out, the situation didn’t improve.

“We’re on the right path,” Cosmos standout Andres Flores said. “We just need to improve those details and try to get better.”

Jacksonville grabbed a bit of momentum in the 21st minute, getting off two shots on goal in slightly more than a minute, barely missing the mark on both. But that aggression came back to haunt them, and led to New York’s only goal of the match.

The second miss made its way back to midfield and onto the foot of Flores at midfield. Flores found Walter Restrepo racing down to the top of Jacksonville’s box. Restrepo, in turn, quickly found Javi Marquez, who took his chances on a shot, even with an open teammate, Eugene Starikov, in the corner. It was worth the risk — Marquez’s goal was his first of the season and the first given up by Jacksonville this year.

“If I can shoot, I’ll shoot,” said Marquez on his decision, “I’m confident in my abilities.”

The Spanish midfielder joined the Cosmos after a career in La Liga, and his new coach feels his first goal with the team can be a major confidence-booster.

“He’s getting to know the league,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savaresse said. “I think that now, Javi is going to show he’s a quality player.”

Flores said he, too, has praise for his new teammate.

“That adds a lot to the team, his experience,” Flores said of Marquez. “The intensity [in] the way he plays. I think it’s a great add for us and of course I think he’s going to do great in the next game.”

The Cosmos held a 1–0 lead after the first half, and looked to continue the attack with a strong first five minutes of the second. But Jacksonville had an answer for every Cosmos push and, as the half started to move on, FC took control.

“There was something that changed towards the 50th minute,” Savaresse said. “They started taking advantage; they were finding us in trouble and they were able to score.”

Jacksonville began to aggressively hound the Cosmos again midway through the second half. Cosmos goalie Jimmy Mauer did his best — including a backwards, leaping save in the 66th minute — to keep the goose egg on the board, but Jacksonville continued to push, with J.C. Banks netting an unassisted goal in the 67th minute.

The Cosmos were unable to ever find that late-game attack, struggling to contend with Jacksonville even after FC coach Mark Lowry was ejected shortly after Banks’s goal.

New York had one final chance for the win in extra time, but an open shot went right into the arms of Jacksonville goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell, and the match ended in a draw, another frustrating finish for a Cosmos squad looking to find a bit of offensive rhythm.

“We created a lot of clear opportunities, but we couldn’t score,” Flores said. “That’s something we missed in the past games. We have to improve in little details, be more precise.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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