Substitute Charlie Ledula and Bledi Bardic scored second-half goals as the New York Cosmos recorded a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Hartford City FC in a National Premier Soccer League game at Central Connecticut State University Soccer Stadium on Sunday.
The win raised the Cosmos record to 5-0-0 as they ended their two-game New England weekend swing with a pair of victories. They had defeated the Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds on Friday night, 7-1.
Ledula, a former standout at LIU C.W. Post, replaced David Diosa at the start of the second half. Only four minutes after coming on and a minute after Junior Burgos drilled a shot off the crossbar, the Englishman made a major impact on a brilliant individual effort to score his team-best fifth goal. He broke into the penalty area, raced to his right and unleashed a 12-yard shot into the lower left side past goalkeeper Hami Kara for a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute.
Burgos, whose specialty is set pieces, set up the second goal on a free kick in the 74th minute to give the Cosmos some breathing room. He sent a bouncing ball from the left side through a maze of players that Bardic flicked home from close range.
The Cosmos dominated the opening scoreless first half, but Kara made several vital saves in the opening 45 minutes, two on hard shots by Bardic and one apiece on Bocanegra and Burgos. Cosmos captain Danny Szetela twice narrowly missed the right side of the net.
Mark Grant came close to equalizing when he worked his way through the Cosmos defense and found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Paul Blanchette, but he sent his shot barely to the left of the net. Blanchette registered his second clean sheet of the season for the Cosmos, who have yet to surrender a goal in the run of play.
The Cosmos return home to face FC St. Pauli (Germany) in an international friendly at Rocco B. Commisso Stadium in New York City on Thursday, May 23, at 7:30 p.m.
Their next NPSL home match will be against Hartford City at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Saturday, June 1 at 8 p.m.