The New York Cosmos got the 205 NASL season started in the right way, defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in front of a record crowd in Florida. Despite the changes made to the Cosmos attacking unit, the formula for success remained largely the same as it has been for the past two seasons. Gio Savarese's side looked to control possession for large stretches of the match, were compact and organized defensively, and made the most of set piece opportunities.
The only goal of the match was scored from on of those set pieces, when Walter Restrepo found fellow Cosmos debutante Leo Fernandes on a corner, and the midfielder made no mistake, heading the ball just under the Strikers' bar and giving the boys in green the lead. From that point on, Savarese's side looked content to sit back and absorb pressure, while occasionally looking to spring the counter attack.
Here are a few thoughts from the opening night victory:
- I was very curious to see how the Cosmos would look with two strikers up top, as they've generally used a lone center forward in the past. Tonight, it looked like Raul was making it a point to involve himself in the buildup, while Mads Stokkelien was the spearhead up front.
- The Strikers' commentary team should probably ask about pronunciation before kickoff in the future, as they absolutely butchered Stokkelien's name tonight. If you watch the replay, Mads, do it with the sound off.
- Not surprisingly, there were moments when the Cosmos didn't look like a well oiled machine, and those moments often involved the trio of debutantes in New York's starting lineup.
- The shift to a two-striker system didn't seem to hurt the Cosmos in possession, as the club still looked in control for most of the match. As with the past two seasons, however, the boys in green need to convert that possession into more scoring chances.
- Here's hoping Raul came off before the hour mark for tactical or match fitness reasons, as opposed to an injury. I'm sure Savarese will be asked about that in his post-match conference.
- I loved the Fernandes/Adam Moffat swap late in the match as the Cosmos were trying to see out the win, as Moffat should allow the club to play a bit more deep and narrow than the Philadelphia Union man.
- Congratulations to former Cosmos attacker Jemal Johnson, who scored the first ever goal for the Jacksonville Armada less than a minute into their rout of FC Edmonton.