Cosmos Come Back to Tie Jacksonville 4-4

Three second-half goals give New York a point in final road game
Published Oct 23, 2017

The New York Cosmos rallied back from a 3-1 halftime deficit to earn a point in a thrilling 4-4 draw at Jacksonville Armada FC on Sunday afternoon at Hodges Stadium.

With the point, the Cosmos still control their own destiny ahead of their match against Puerto Rico FC next Saturday, October 28 at MCU Park in Brooklyn.

New York currently sits fourth in the NASL Combined Standings with 42 points, while Jacksonville is fifth with 40 points, heading into the final week of the Regular Season.

“The team showed character in the second half. The guys came convinced that we were going to get back into the game,” said Cosmos Head Coach and Sporting Director Giovanni Savarese. “Not only we got back into the game, but we were able to score four goals.”

A physical first half saw both teams waste little time in getting on the board.

Four minutes in, Zach Steinberger got the home side ahead with a low strike from the middle the box off an assist from Derek Gebhard.

Three minutes later, with a perfect through ball from Emmanuel Ledesma, David Ochieng made a run, found space in the box and scored past the diving keeper to level the score at 1-1. The goal was Ochieng’s first with the Cosmos.

However, the tie wouldn’t last long as free kicks propelled Jacksonville ahead.

In the 22nd minute, Kaylen Ryden’s header off a free kick hit the post, but Drew Beckie was there to head in the rebound and give the Armada the lead.

Off a similar free kick minutes later, Jack Blake served it in for Ryden, who got a foot on the ball to sneak it past Cosmos goalkeeper, Jimmy Maurer, to make it 3-1 Jacksonville at halftime.

“I’m not pleased with some of the things we did in the first half,” Savarese said. “There’s no reason for us to have given those goals away so easily.”

In the second half, the Cosmos came out attacking, and they were rewarded. In the 58th minute, Emmanuel Ledesma and Andrés Flores combined to find Eugene Starikov open in the box, and the Ukrainian scored his second goal in as many games to get New York within a goal.

Less than 10 minutes later, the Cosmos drew level. Flores played a through ball to Lucky Mkosana, and the substitute scored eight minutes after entering the game to even the score at 3-3. The goal was Mkosana’s first of the season.

The Cosmos took the lead in the 77th minute, as Jimmy Mulligan’s long strike eluded Jacksonville keeper, Caleb Patterson-Sewell, to give New York a 4-3 lead. The goal was Mulligan’s first as a professional.   

But the Cosmos’ lead wouldn’t last long as less than two minutes later, Charles Eloundou blasted a high shot past Maurer to even the score at 4-4.

Needing a win to improve their postseason chances, Jacksonville pressed for a fifth goal late. With a free kick in stoppage time, Blake hit the wall of Cosmos defenders. Seconds later, Armada captain, Aaron Pitchkolan’s blast from outside the box was stopped by a diving Maurer.

On the ensuing corner, Jacksonville brought their keeper up for the attack to look for the winner. However, the Cosmos emerged with the ball. With a three on one rush against an empty net, the referee blew the final whistle, bringing an end to the match before the Cosmos could score a potential playoff-clinching goal, leaving New York players and coaching staff frustrated at the end.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. A breakaway to score a goal and the referee actually took the goal away,” Savarese said of the final sequence. “It’s a goal that could have defined an entire season. I can’t believe that he called it away. It was insane.”

The eight combined goals are the most in a Cosmos game this season. New York won the possession battle by holding the ball for 61.3 percent of the game, but both teams finished equal with six shots.

The Cosmos will end the Regular Season with a 7:00 pm matchup against Puerto Rico FC on Saturday, October 28 at MCU Park. As part of Captain Carlos Mendes’ final home game, the first 2,500 fans to enter the game will receive a commemorative captain’s armband. To purchase tickets, click here.