Most of the nation celebrated a day off from work on July 4, but the Cosmos clocked in to MCU Park for a holiday matchup against Indy Eleven. And in front of a crowd looking for something to celebrate before fireworks were set to light up the city’s sky, New York delivered its fans a dramatic finish in a 1–1 draw.
The Cosmos trailed for much of the game, but midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma knocked in a penalty kick in the 86th minute to tie the contest and make it a slightly more positive holiday for those on the field and the more than 6,000 fans in attendance.
Despite the finish, Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese couldn’t help but feel that his team could have done more to secure a win and three points.
“I think we could have utilized more spaces to create danger,” Savarese said. “Even though we were able to fight back and get a tie, we could have done more to win the game.”
Savarese’s concerns are significant for a New York team that is currently in the thick of a race atop the North American Soccer League standings. With 21 points on the season, the Cosmos now sit just one point behind Jacksonville Armada FC for third place, and five points behind the San Francisco Deltas for second with just two games remaining in the Spring Season.
New York fell behind early, surrendering a 33rd-minute goal when Indy’s Ben Speas fired a shot right through Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer’s legs to put the visitors ahead 1–0. It was the third time in four games — and third straight home game — that New York went into the half trailing.
In the second half, Maurer kept his team within striking distance, recording three saves and earning honors as Emirates Man of the Match.
On quite a few occasions, it looked as though New York had found its equalizer, as forward Eugene Starikov, coming off the bench as a substitute, brought some instant energy for the Cosmos offensively.
Starikov was involved in numerous near-goals, first starting with a header that narrowly missed, then setting up Ledesma for a chance in the 59th minute, then forcing Indy goalkeeper Jon Busch to make a difficult save in the 83rd minute.
Despite their best efforts, it looked as if the Cosmos would come up short, until Ledesma made his way into the box and drew a foul on a challenge from Indy’s Colin Falvey. Ledesma had no problem slotting away the penalty kick for his fourth goal of the season, finally giving New York its late equalizer.
The Cosmos have another matchup against Indy Eleven on July 8, this time on the road.