Home Opener Sees Cosmos Cruise to 2-0 Win Over Rowdies in Front of Record Crowd

Marcos Senna slotted home a penalty in the 11th minute and Leo Fernandes added another score in the 48th minute for the Cosmos, who stretched their unbeaten run to three games.
Apr 18, 2015

By Cosmos News Service

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – In Raúl’s home debut, the New York Cosmos picked up a 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies in front of a Cosmos modern day era record crowd of 12,550.

“It is definitely one of the greatest days of the new era,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “We had a lot of energy. It wasn’t only the amount of people, but there was a lot of energy inside the place. The team performance as well helped. It was a great night to see so many fans.”

Cosmos midfielder Marcos Senna and winger Leo Fernandes scored in each half for the Cosmos, who stretched their unbeaten streak to three consecutive games to start the North American Soccer League Spring Season.

Senna was sent to the spot after Rowdies midfielder Darnell King handled a cross by Walter Restrepo at the back post. Senna forced Rowdies goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky the wrong way before calmly slotting in his first goal of the season in the 11th minute.

Fernandes struck in the 48th minute for his second goal in a Cosmos uniform. Senna played the ball to Restrepo, who cut the ball across to an open Fernandes, and the Long Island native put the Cosmos (2-0-1) in front 2-0 from 12 yards out.

On loan from the Philadelphia Union, Fernandes has been one of the Cosmos' biggest contributors thus far.

“I have to say there’s no surprise about that,” Savarese said. “He’s an excellent player, a player who is developing, has great qualities. We just have to continue helping him to reach even a bigger point because there’s room still for improvement. He has so much talent and he’s showing it every single game. He plays with fun and he’s eager to learn and get better.”

While Cosmos legend Pelé provided a pregame buzz as part of an on-field ceremony with former teammates, many in the sellout crowd came out to see Spanish superstar Raúl, who played 90 minutes for the first time in a Cosmos uniform before being subbed out for Lucky Mkosana deep in second-half stoppage time.

“Today I felt very good,” Raúl said. “The last two, three weeks I [was limited] training with the team because I have a small problem with my hamstring. I hope next week to improve my performance for the team.”

Senna was dangerous throughout en route to winning the Emirates Cosmos Man of the Match award. He caused problems with a cross in the 34th minute that nearly resulted in an own goal off the head of defender Tamika Mkandawire, but Contofalsky made a tremendous save to parry the ball away for a corner.

Senna had a chance to tack on a second goal, but his free kick from 22 yards out in the first minute of first-half stoppage time bounced wide of the near post.

The Rowdies (1-1-1) had a pair of quality chances to equalize late in the first half as midfielder Robert Hernandez was played in by striker Georgi Hristov, but Jimmy Maurer, who claimed his 15th career NASL shutout, made the save on the shot from the edge of the six-yard box in the 39th minute.

Hernandez was then played over the top, cut outside and then in on Carlos Mendes, but rolled his shot just wide of the far post in the 43rd minute.

Tampa Bay almost pulled a goal back in the 71st minute when forward Darwin Espinal made a run to the end line and cut back to Hristov, but his shot was blocked in front of goal.

Next weekend the Cosmos head to Atlanta to take on the Silverbacks. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on April 25.

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