Cosmos Top Atlético Pantoja in International Exhibition Match

New York prevails in second preseason match in the Dominican Republic
Mar 3, 2017

The New York Cosmos continued their 2017 preseason tour by defeating 2015 Dominican National Champion, Atlético Pantoja, 2-0 at Estadio Olimpico Félix Sanchez Friday night.

“We played a good match tonight against a tough opponent. We are satisfied because we had the opportunity to see a good number of players get playing time,” said Cosmos Head Coach and Sporting Director, Giovanni Savarese. “We have one more match this week before we return to New York, so we will continue to prepare to be in the best shape possible.”

Both teams started the match with intensity and fought for early control through possession. Salvadoran international, Andrés Flores, had the Cosmos off on the front foot in the sixth minute, as he applied pressure on Pantoja’s defensive line, but was unable to connect with Amauri to score the first goal of the evening.  

Javi Márquez made his preseason debut, and would immediately set the Cosmos attack into motion in the 21st minute by finding Carlos Mendes in the middle of the box, but New York’s captain was ruled offside after a successful buildup. Five minutes later, the Catalonian combined with Ayoze, who also made his 2017 debut, to generate offensive soccer over Miguel Báez’s goal.

As Márquez took ownership of the Cosmos’s offensive midfield, it was Danny Szetela who quietly put the labor in to recover the ball for the Cosmos and enable the Spaniard to trigger the Cosmos’ attack. Although Pantoja pushed their midfield line forward towards the end of the first half, they were not successful reaching Jimmy Maurer’s goal with imminent danger.

The second half began with attack-minded substitutions from Cosmos Head Coach, Giovanni Savarese. Amauri, and midfielders, Walter Restrepo and Szetela were replaced by Eugene Starikov, Marco Marchionni and Juan Guerra, respectively.

It was Pantoja, however, the team that started to generate danger at the beginning of the second half. Walnes Innocent tested Maurer in the 48th minute, but the goalie parried the ball out effectively. Pantoja’s striker, Armando Maita, forced Maurer into action in the 71st minute with a point-blank shot, but he managed to keep the score at zero.

The Cosmos would eventually break through first, though, beginning in the 77th minute. Juan Guerra played a through ball to Eugene Starikov on the right-hand side of the box and the midfielder finished low to the far post of Báez to score the first goal of the match.

Even though Pantoja fought for the equalizer, New York would double the difference in the 94th minute after Emmanuel Ledesma, who replaced Ali Hassan, mimicked Guerra’s pass for the first goal by playing a through ball to Starikov. The Ukrainian-American outwitted Báez and two defenders who tried to protect Pantoja’s goal and served the ball to Irvin Herrera, who scored his first preseason goal by protecting the ball with his body and then turning right to finish with a classy touch.

In the end the scoreboard read 2-0 in New York’s favor. The Cosmos will stay in Santo Domingo until next Sunday, to face the Dominican National Soccer Team at Estadio Olimpico Félix Sanchez. New York will kick off the 2017 NASL Season March 25, when they travel to Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium to take on Puerto Rico FC. The Cosmos' 2017 home opener will take place at MCU Park in Broooklyn on Saturday, April 1 at 7:00 pm against Miami FC. Season tickets are on-sale now.

 

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