The New York Cosmos defeated Ottawa Fury FC 1-0 to close out their spring schedule with a 6-1-2 record. That put them in second place in the NASL, one point behind Minnesota United FC.
The Cosmos started on the attack early and scored the only goal of the game in the sixth minute. Mads Stokkelien made a precise crossing pass to Alessandro Noselli who scored on Ottawa goalie Devala Gorrick to put New York ahead 1-0. It was Noselli’s first goal of the season.
“Perfect ball, great, great pass,” Noselli said. “I don’t say nothing because it’s perfect.”
It was even more fitting for Noselli, an Italian, to get the winning goal on the day the Cosmos honored the late Georgio Chinaglia, a star on the original Cosmos in the ‘70s and ‘80s. His number nine was retired before the game in a ceremony attended by his children. Chinaglia now joins Pele as the only two Cosmos players to have their jersey numbers retired.
“It’s a great day, a perfect day for me because Giorgio Chinaglia was one of the best players in the Cosmos history,” Noselli said. “For me to score on the same day of the retirement of his jersey was a great thing.”
After that, the home team took control of the tempo for most of the rest of the match. The enthusiastic crowd of 6,495 enjoyed watching the Cosmos defense shut down the Ottawa attack. The visitors managed only two shots on goal in the entire contest, one in each half. Cosmos goalie Jimmy Maurer saved both of them to earn his sixth shutout of the spring season.
In nine games, the Cosmos allowed a total of only three goals, by far the top defense in the league. Maurer was quick to credit his teammates for the team’s defensive success. “It’s been a great run defensively for sure,” Maurer said. “There’s still a lot of things we can do better, but all the credit goes to the guys in front of me. The way we defend as a team, the back four especially, but through the midfield and even the forwards…These guys just work so hard for 90 minutes.”
Ottawa did put some pressure on the Cosmos net in the final few minutes of regulation time and in stoppage time, but Maurer came up with a big save that preserved the 1-0 victory.
“We’ve got to make it a little bit easier on ourselves,” defender Hunter Freeman said when asked about Ottawa’s late-game surge. “We’ve got to be a little bit smarter, realizing that they’re pressing and not always put it out of the back and just put it long and also we have some good chances on the other end. If we put those in, we can breathe a bit.”
While the Cosmos were pleased with the victory, their second-place finish left them hungry to do better in the fall.
“We were able to come one point behind the team that won the spring season,” Cosmos Head Coach Giovanni Savarese explained after the game. “We felt we did some good things during the season, but we’re not satisfied with where we are right now…We can always do something better.”
The Cosmos will return to action Saturday, June 14 when they host the New York Red Bulls in a fourth-round match of the U.S. Open Cup. This promises to be an important and intense matchup between the Metropolitan area’s two best teams to be held at Shuart Stadium.
Savarese is already jockeying for an edge. “I feel more of the pressure is on the Red Bulls because I don’t think we have anything to lose,” the coach said. “That makes it a lot better for us.”
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