Soccer

Make soccer great again: NCFC, NY Cosmos draw 2-2

Posted August 26

Jul 22, 2017; Cary, NC, USA; North Carolina FC hosted the New York Cosmos in a NASL fall season match at Sahlen's Stadium at Wake Med Soccer Park. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-NCFC

— This year, the New York Cosmos moved their home ground to MCU Park on Coney Island. The minor league baseball stadium sits on the former site of Steeplechase Park, the country's original and longest running amusement that operated on Coney Island from 1862 to 1964, when the property was purchased by Fred Trump, father of President Donald Trump.

Fred Trump closed Steeplechase Park and sought to rezone the property for residential apartments. While litigating for approval of zoning variances, he staged a “demolition party” for the derelict amusement park, which included four fashion models — all wearing hardhats, two in bikinis — perched atop a bulldozer scoop while an axe-wielding Trump invited guests to hurl bricks at the park’s fading facade. Trump eventually razed the park’s pavilion, but he lost his court battle to rezone the property. He sold the land to the City of New York in 1969, and MCU Park opened June 2001.

After reforming and joining the neo-North American Soccer League in 2013, the iconic New York soccer club was hardly tired of winning, earning three league championships over four years in its ongoing effort to Make the Cosmos Great Again. Still, that wasn’t enough to stop the Cosmos from nearly dissolving last off-season. The club now has a new owner and is climbing its way back to the league table. The Cosmos came to Cary Saturday evening and put on an exciting match with North Carolina FC that featured four second-half goals and two lead changes. The net result was a 2-2 draw, compliments of NCFC goals by Nazmi Albadawi and Renan Gorne.

“I thought we deserved to win it” said NCFC manager Colin Clarke. “I thought we created more chances throughout the game. I thought we defended very well, obviously up until the goals. We had good shape, and we were good on the counterattack and good in possession. We did a lot of good stuff tonight."

After a scoreless first half, North Carolina FC grabbed the initial lead in the first minute following intermission. A give-and-go in the area with Dre Fortune gave Albadawi a blast that he buried past Cosmos keeper Jimmy Maurer. It’s only Albadawi’s second goal this season, and not coincidentally coincides with a return to the number 10 position with which he’s more accustomed and effective.

“I think because of Dre being in there that allowed [Albadawi] to get higher,” Clarke said, “and we’ve worked on getting him into higher positions, rather than coming back for the ball.”

It didn’t take the Cosmos long to find the equalizer in the 59th minute. Midfielder Andres Flores dropped the ball back to Ayoze Pérez, who took a couple of touches before reciprocating with a deft weighted chip pass back Flores for an easy finish. New York then found their go-ahead goal in the 71st minute. North Carolina center back Connor Tobin intercepted an attempted through ball just outside the area, but he held possession long enough for Cosmos forward Eugene Starikov to pick himself off the turf, pick Tobin’s pocket from behind, then turn and fire for the 2-1 advantage.

“Eugene came into the game very well,” said Cosmos manager Gio Savarese. “He pressured, he gave us mobility, he won a lot of good balls, and he got a lot of the rebounds we weren’t getting before.”

As the clock struck 90 minutes, NCFC found their own equalizer. A whirling Albadawi penetrated the area before uncorking a shot that a diving Maurer swatted into space occupied solely by Gorne. The 21-year-old Brazilian loanee calmly redirected the ball across the goal line for the 2-2 draw.

After the match, Gorne expressed his pleasure at returning to America to play soccer for the first time since he was fourteen years old with a youth club in Atlanta. Saturday is Gorne’s first goal for North Carolina FC, scored with his family visiting in the grandstands.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Gorne said. “When North Carolina showed some interest in having me here, I did not think twice. I decided to come because it would be a great experience for me to improve as a professional player and personally. I will try my best to get victories and hopefully be in the playoffs to get the title.”

Despite his team’s aggressive second-half performance, Savarese credited North Carolina and thought a draw was the fair result.

“The first half, [North Carolina was] more ambitious than we were,” Savarese said. “They attacked the spaces with more determination. They moved the ball better than us in the first half, and we were too timid and concerned about leaving spaces. The second half was different—we pressured higher, we had better mobility, and we moved the ball much better. But nevertheless, those key moments where we have to be more mature to close out the game, we were not able to do so. Credit to North Carolina, that they believed throughout the entire match they could get back into the game.”

Despite Saturday’s draw, North Carolina FC (7-6-9, 27 pts.) slides to fifth place in the overall NASL table thanks to a Jacksonville Armada win at Indy Eleven.. North Carolina remains home next Saturday, September 2 for a Labor Day weekend tilt against seventh-place FC Edmonton.

“This league, with the results tonight, is getting just tighter and tighter,” Clarke said. “We’re disappointed in ourselves that we haven’t won in front of our fans, who are crying out for that, and so are we. We know it’s going to be a long, hard slog until the end of the season, but if we play like we did tonight for the rest of the season, we’ll be there.”

BOX SCORE

LINEUPS

NCFC: Sylvestre, Tobin, Ibeagha, Black, Miller, Marcelin, Fortune (Molano, 80’), Shipalane (Fondy, 89’), Albadawi, Laing (Orlando, 80’), Gorne
NYC: Maurer, Richter, Mendes, Ayoze, Barnes, Mulligan, Guerra, Flores, Marquez (Szetela, 90’), Ledesma (Moyal, 82’), Vranjican (Starikov, 60’)

GOAL
NCFC: Albadawi, 46’ (Fortune); Gorne, 90’
NYC: Flores, 59’ (Ayoze); Starikov, 71’

CAUTIONS
NCFC: Albadawi, 45’; Molano, 86’
NYC: Vranjican, 19’; Szetela, 90’; Richter, 90’

EJECTIONS
NCFC: ---
NYC: ---

ATTENDANCE: 4,205

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