The New York Cosmos open the 2016 NASL Spring Season on Sunday night at Hofstra, against the same club they defeated in last season's title match. Ottawa Fury FC will likely look very, very different this evening when they take the pitch, but so will the defending champions, wo have turned over most of their attacking unit ahead of the new campaign.
Cosmos Head Coach Gio Savarese had the difficult task of replacing Raul, Marcos Senna, Gaston Cellerino, Leo Fernandes, and Walter this winter, and seems to have done a fine job of it. He'll trot out the following lineup this evening, which is quite a bit different from the ones we saw last November, but is at least as talented as the one which finished atop the combined table last season.
Staring XI: Jimmy Maurer; Hunter Freeman, Carlos Mendes, Jimmy Ockford, Ayzoe; Juan Arango, Ruben Bover, Michael Lahoud, Andres Flores, Sebastien Guenzatti; Jairo Arrieta
Bench: Brian Holt, David Ochieng, Niko Kranjcar, Adam Moffat, Yohandry Orozco, Gabriel Farfan, Lucky Mkosana
So no Yasmani Duk or Danny Szetela in the squad, and David Ochieng and Niko Kranjcar surprisingly start on the bench. Other that those, however, no real surprises.
Meanwhile, Ottawa Head Coach Paul Dalglish has lost the bulk of the fall season champions' core, and will use the following group this evening:
Starting XI: Romuald Peiser; Marcel de Jong, Rafael Alves, Fernando Sanfelice, Kyle Porter; Mozzi Gyorio, Julian de Guzman, Lance Rozeboom; Gerardo Bruna; Paulo Junior, Dennis Chin
Bench: Andrew McRae, Mauro Eustaquio, James Bailey, Jonny Steele, Idan Vered
On paper, New York appears to have a far more formidable group, and they actually used all seven spots on their bench, but as seen several times already on opening weekend, the matches aren't played on paper. Cross your fingers and hope for the best tonight, the top spot is there for the taking.