The New York Cosmos earned their first home win of the 2014 NASL fall season as they blanked the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 2-0 at Shuart Stadium Saturday night. Danny Mwanga and Marcos Senna scored in the first half to provide the Cosmos with a 2-0 lead. The home team was able to control the game in the second half and preserve the win.
“Our team was able to understand tactically what we needed to do and we matched up well,” Coach Giovanni Savarese said. “The second half wasn’t pretty but we were able to do what we needed to do.”
New York got off to a quick start, taking the lead in the 17th minute. Mwanga got the home team on the board when he put home a goal from eight yards out. The play came off a free kick by Hunter Freeman which was headed by Carlos Mendes to Mwaga who was able to get the ball just over the goal line. The officials correctly ruled the ball had gone across the line and the Cosmos had a 1-0 lead.
“It was a great team effort,” Mwanga said. “Carlos hit the ball back and I was able to hit it like a volley with my left foot. I think the goalie kind of struggled to see it. I was fortunate he didn’t reach it and it went in.”
The goal was a first for Danny as a member of the Cosmos. “It was good to get the first one out of the way,” Mwanga said after the game. “It’s good to build my confidence going forward.”
New York increased their lead to 2-0 in the 30th minute on a penalty kick by Marcos Senna. He used a stutter-step fake that forced Strikers goalie Kamil Contofalsky to commit and then put the ball into the open net.
The Cosmos nearly made it 3-0 in the final seconds of the half as Freeman made a pretty cross to Mwanga who nearly scored on a header just before the official blew the final whistle to end the half.
“When you get the first goal and you get the second goal, it makes the game so much easier. Now you can maintain the game, be smart and not take as many risks,” explained Freeman. “We didn’t play that great in the second half but we had a good effort and were smart and limited them to not very many chances.”
In the second half, the Cosmos made sure they would not relinquish their two-goal lead like they did in their previous game against Indianapolis.
The Strikers had a few quality chances in the second half, but goalie Jimmy Maurer was equal to the task and the Cosmos managed to maintain control of the ball and the tempo of the match for large stretches of the final 45 minutes.
“It’s always good to win at home,” Freeman added. “When you’ve struggled a bit like we have, it’s even better. But we have to stay grounded. We were smart, but we still could have played a lot better.”
The win keeps the Cosmos in the thick of the playoff hunt in the NASL with just eight games left on the schedule. New York will return to action next Saturday when they host the Atlanta Silverbacks at 7:00 pm at Shuart Stadium.
Ayoze left the game at the half after suffering a groin injury early in the game. He was replaced by Jemal Johnson at the start of the second half.
Attendance was 3,626 at a rainy Shuart Stadium.
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