Raúl's Winner Sends Cosmos to Championship Final

New York will host the NASL title game next Sunday at Shuart Stadium.
Cosmos News Service | Nov 7, 2015

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (November 7, 2015) -- New York Cosmos stars and Spanish legends Raúl and Marcos Senna have earned the right to play for a championship sendoff.

The Cosmos defeated the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-1 on Saturday at MCU Park to reach the North American Soccer League Championship Final next Sunday, which New York will host at Hofstra University's James M. Shuart Stadium.

Set to retire together at season's end, the two former Spanish internationals left their marks on the match. A powerful free kick from Senna set up Gaston Cellerino's equalizing goal in the 37th minute, and Raúl struck for the game-winner in the 61st minute.

"We have done enough during the year to deserve to be in the final," Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. "I think it was a good game today. We knew that Fort Lauderdale was going to be a tough team to play against. They had a lot of energy and have some quality players."

The Cosmos will host the winner of Sunday's semifinal between Ottawa Fury FC and Minnesota United FC.

Danny Szetela teamed with Senna in the Cosmos midfield, holding off the Strikers in the second half after Raúl performed his magic.

"It felt like the first year we played together," Szetela said. "Obviously, it could have been his last game. He was out there, running around like he's 20 years younger. The chemistry was there. Hopefully, I get to play in the final with him."

They played together at the 2013 Soccer Bowl, as Senna scored the game-winner off a free kick in a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks at Silverbacks Park.

The Strikers took Saturday's game to the Cosmos early on, and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute on Brazilian midfielder PC's goal that beat Jimmy Maurer to the far left post.

The Cosmos knotted things up before the half, as Cellerino tapped in a rebound off Senna's free kick past goalkeeper David Meves. That set up the second-half heroics from Raúl.

"He's always been that player that puts some genius into game," Savarese said.

It was Raúl's third goal in his last four appearances.

"He's reaching a point right now that he is feeling very comfortable physically," Savarese said. "I think at the beginning he was trying to get in top shape, and I think he is finishing very strong physically."

Maurer, who made a vital save on PC to keep the game within striking distance in the 32nd minute, felt both players made impacts in the waning minutes.

"You could tell that they were going to do whatever it took," he said. "In the 85th minute those two were sprinting around the field pressuring Fort Lauderdale to win the ball back."

The Cosmos will have a shot at their seventh Soccer Bowl Trophy next Sunday at Shuart Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. ET.

"Now that we're through, we have to work this week," said Savarese. "And once we know who is going to be in the final, we'll prepare for that as well."


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