The New York Cosmos clinched the 2015 NASL’s Spring Title and finished the first half of the 2015 season without a loss after earning a 3-3 draw against the Jacksonville Armada FC.
“This is the first accomplishment for the guys this year,” Cosmos Coach Giovanni Savarese said after the match. “I’m very proud of them, they’ve worked hard all year. It hasn’t been easy, every game was a battle, but I’m very proud that the guys have been able to accomplish the first task.”
The Cosmos got off to a strong start and took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute on an own goal that went in off Jacksonville goalie Miguel Gallardo. Raúl started the play with a shot from 35 feet out that hit the crossbar and then bounced in off of the stunned Armada FC keeper.
Hagop Chirishian made it 2-0 in the 26th minute on a pretty goal that was set up by an accurate cross by Danny Szetela. Szetela faked through a pair of Jacksonville defenders before making the pass that Chirishian touched twice. First he put the ball behind the goalie, then bounced it into the open goal.
“The month of May, it was just a bad month,” Chirishian explained. “I was out with injury the whole month, and then I got a start in Cuba which I got a goal in, so it boosted my confidence. Then getting a start here was amazing, and to get a goal in to win the spring championship, it was the thing we all dream of.”
The Cosmos played a very strong first half, outshooting Jacksonville 6-2 and they took that 2-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. The crowd of 7,353 was excited as the Cosmos were 45 minutes away from clinching the NASL Spring Season Title.
But Armada FC changed the tempo of play in the second half and quickly got back in the match.
“In the second half, we didn’t make some good decisions,” Savarese admitted. “They came to pressure us high and they tried to steal more balls from our defensive line and we made too many risky passes that allowed us to give up the ball.”
Jacksonville got on the board in the 59th minute. Pascal Millien scored off a give-and-go play with Jemal Johnson and the Cosmos lead was cut to 2-1.
Millien scored again in the 73rd minute after winning control of the ball from Szetela and the game was all even at 2-2.
Lucky Mkosana managed to give the home team back the lead in the 86th minute. David Diosa made a play coming down the left side and made a pinpoint cross which Mkosana was able to direct into the goal. The Cosmos led 3-2 and seemed to have the match in hand.
“It’s been one of the best weeks [of my career]. Coming from Cuba, the emotions there, and then bringing that to this weekend,” Mkosana said. “I feel like we did well as a team, and we need to continue doing that. It’s not just individuals, it comes down to everybody,”
But Jacksonville found a way to tie the match in the 89th minute when Millien’s corner kick was volleyed home by Joseph Toby and the match ended in a 3-3 draw.
Still, the Cosmos only needed a draw to clinch the NASL spring title and to finish the first half of the schedule without losing a game (5 wins and 5 draws).
After the match, the fans cheered as the home team was presented with the trophy for winning the spring title as “We Are the Champions” played throughout Shuart Stadium.
“To win it in front of the fans was special,” Captain Carlos Mendes said. “I think we have some of the best fans in the league, the support matters and obviously we do well at home. For us to win the championship here, it’s special, so we want to thank the fans of course.”
The Cosmos celebrated, but they have only a few days to enjoy this victory before their next match which will be played Wednesday at Shuart Stadium against the NYCFC of the MLS. This match is the next challenge in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the Cosmos and has been dubbed “The East River Darby.”
“These matches are what you need in a city in order to get the sport to grow,” Savarese said. “For us, this match is going to be huge.”
For more information about the New York Cosmos and for tickets to the upcoming matches fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:
For post-match interviews and photo gallery fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: