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Game Preview: One More Sleep Till Brooklyn

Cosmos host Miami FC at MCU Park, with music from Farruko

Well, it’s finally here - the New York Cosmos kick off their 2017 home opener against Miami FC at Coney Island’s MCU Park tomorrow, April 1st. It’s the first time that the New York Originals will be playing their regular home matches within the five boroughs since Pele and Chinaglia led the line at Yankees Stadium in 1976. And although there is now a certain other soccer team now in residence at that particular venue, after starting the calendar year not only homeless but without a secured future, Cosmos fans will be delighted that the team even has a stadium at all.

MCU Park, home of the New York Mets’ minor league affiliate the Brooklyn Cyclones, is not an unfamiliar venue to the team, with the Cosmos having appeared there twice in 2015, including the Championship Semifinal win over Fort Lauderdale. In fact, on paper it is a favourable matchup for the Cosmos, as they have a 100% record both at MCU Park and over Miami FC, winning all three match-ups against the sophomore team. Added to that, Miami have yet to even tally a goal against the reigning NASL champs.

But with all the off-season shake-ups, previous form is probably largely irrelevant at this stage. What we do know is that both teams are entering their second game of the young NASL season with one point from their road openers. The Cosmos were frustrated in Puerto Rico, while a scrappy Kwadwo Poku goal earned a draw for Miami in North Carolina.

Though we may have been a little guilty of overhyping Eugene Starikov in preseason, I’m sure I am not alone in hoping to see some more from the Ukrainian-American this week. Andrea Mancini’s start in Puerto Rico was hardly inspiring, and with Kalif Alhassan also pushing for a creative midfield role, the Italian may quickly slip down the pecking order. The defence appeared solid in that last outing and less susceptible at set-pieces, so we might expect Gio to stick to the same back four. Dejan Jakovic is the wildcard there, with the word being that he is still working toward match fitness. Personally, I’m curious to know what has become of Javi Marquez. The Catalonian looked impressive in the Dominican Republic, but has been entirely absent since. If fit, it would be great to get his creativity and set-piece prowess back in the midfield.

Of course this being Brooklyn, Cosmos fans will likely have some slightly more artisanal treats for in-game sustenance this season. The Coney Island Brewing Company is adjacent to the stadium and their beers feature in the park (Based on extensive personal research I’m told that the Mermaid Pilsner is an excellent choice) meanwhile there are gluten free buns to be had for hot dogs and Italian sausages, and the promenade behind home plate is home to a selection of bespoke Brooklyn food trucks.

And, the team will welcome Puerto Rican star of the ‘Reggaeton’ movement, Farruko, to perform before the game and during half time. Personally, I can’t claim to be a fan of, or know much about his music. But if he brings fans through the turnstyles and gets the crowd going, then we can’t ask for any more.

Finally, the first 2000 fans through the gates will receive a free Cosmos flag. A prospect that clearly got Jimmy Maurer very excited:

Though it’s likely to be a chilly, overcast evening at Coney Island tomorrow, here’s hoping that Cosmos Country brings a warm, welcoming and winning atmosphere to start the season in Brooklyn.

The game will be broadcast nationally on beIN sports and free-to-air locally on PIX 11.