NPSL Members Cup Review

A look back at our particpation in the Members Cup
Jan 3, 2020

The New York Cosmos had a rare opportunity competing in two leagues this past year.

They reached the National Premier Soccer League championship game before losing to Miami FC, 3-1.

They then finished in second place in the NPSL Members Cup.

Presenting highlights of the Members Cup season:

Important road draw

Darwin Espinal connected for a second-half goal as the 10-man Cosmos overcame a one-goal deficit to register a 1-1 draw with host Detroit City FC on Sept. 21. The team dropped full points on the road after going 15-0-0 over the past two years. Detroit (3-0-1, 10) failed to win for the first time this season. The Cosmos were forced to play the final 19 minutes plus injury time a man down after striker Isaac Acuna was red carded in the 73rd minute.

Less than two minutes into the second half, Detroit City struck first as Stephen Carroll converted a corner kick past goalkeeper Santiago Castano. The Cosmos equalized in the 57th minute after Acuna was fouled outside the penalty area as Detroit brought every player in the box to defend. Espinal, who had come close on a few set pieces in the first half, powered his attempt over a six-man wall into the upper right corner out of the reach of goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher.

Junior's achievement

The team closed out its season in style on Oct. 20, recording a 7-0 victory over Napa Valley 1839 FC in Napa, Calif. Midfielder Junior Burgos led the Cosmos assault with a first-half hat-trick. New York, which entered the match with 15 goals, lit up the scoreboard for a season-high seven goals. The visitors scored early and often, building up a 5-0 halftime advantage. Goals by David Diosa and Aly Hassan gave the Cosmos a 2-0 lead by the 16th minute before Burgos took center stage. The El Salvadoran international struck in the 32nd, 38th and 41st minutes for the Cosmos' only hat-trick of the Members Cup season. Kevin Venegas and Aaron Dennis added goals. Goalkeeper Paul Blanchette recorded the clean sheet.

Acuna's brace

Striker Isaac Acuna scored on either side of halftime as the Cosmos maintained their hold on first place by recording a 2-0 home triumph over Michigan Stars FC on Sept. 14. Left fullback Ansi Agolli and Acuna combined on both scores. In the 23rd minute, Agolli switched the ball to his right foot and drilled the ball toward the goal. Acuna got to it just before the goalkeeper could and knocked it into the net. Acuna added an insurance tally. Castano earned the clean sheet.

Dennis' double

There were fireworks on and off the field in the Cosmos' 3-1 home victory over Chattanooga FC on Sept. 21. Striker Aaron Dennis connected for a first-half brace and Bledi Bardic added an insurance goal. The visitors drew first blood in the 12th minute when Joao Costa ran down the left side and fired a shot from outside the penalty area past Castano. In a surreal scene, only 18 seconds prior to the goal, fireworks were started at adjacent Hofstra University and lasted slightly more than seven minutes.

The Cosmos equalized on a pretty play in the 28th minute. Darwin Espinal launched a through ball to a speeding Shavon John-Brown on the right flank. John-Brown, making his Cosmos debut, managed to coax goalkeeper Phillip D'Amico out of the net before crossing the ball to Dennis. The Elmont, N.Y. native slid the ball into the unattended goal. Dennis struck for his second goal in the 40th minute in what was essentially a mirror image of his first score. Darwin started the scoring sequence as he led Agolli down the left side. Agolli raced into the area and crossed to Dennis, who slipped the ball home for a 2-1 lead. After Bardic replaced Dennis in the 70th minute, the veteran striker snapped a long personal scoreless streak by putting home a Pedro Galvao feed from the left side in the 80th minute.

The first win

Only a week after playing in the NPSL final, the Cosmos had to get themselves prepared mentally for another season. Their Members Cup debut in the rain at Chattanooga FC on Aug. 10 wasn't perfect, but it got them in a winning mood again with a 1-0 victory. Second-half Burgos scored on an 84th-minute free kick as Castano, making his first appearance since a 2-0 win over the New York Athletic Club on June 2, recorded the shutout.

Getting by

Acuna scored in the 58th minute to lead the 10-man Cosmos to a 1-0 home win over Napa Valley 1839 FC on Sept. 7. The hosts played the final 29 minutes a man down after center back Emmanuele Sembroni was red carded in the 61st minute. Keeper Jesse Corke, playing in his first match of the campaign, recorded the shutout.

Road warriors

The Cosmos overcame an early one-goal deficit to record a 2-1 victory over the host Milwaukee Torrent in the rain on Oct. 5 to avenge their 2-2 draw home draw earlier in the season. Shavon John-Brown equalized with his first goal as a Cosmos and Matt Lewis headed home the game-winner in the 47th minute. New York (6-0-2, 20 points) remained in first place over Detroit City FC (5-0-1, 16), which registered a 1-0 away win at Chattanooga FC Saturday night to keep the race tight.

Keeping it clean on the road

Castano earned his second shutout of the season as Espinal and forward Aly Hassan scored for the Cosmos in a 2-0 win over host Michigan Stars FC on Aug. 31. Espinal recorded his first goal of the Members Cup campaign, firing home Bledi Bardic's right-wing feed from the penalty spot to give the Cosmos a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute. The visitors dominated possession for huge stretches of the second half and their persistence was rewarded in the 59th minute behind a brilliant Hassan strike from the top edge of the penalty area for a two-goal advantage. It was the second game in a row that Hassan scored.

Devastating home draw

The home opener was spoiled by the Milwaukee Torrent, which scored two late goals to record a 2-2 draw in a physical game on Aug. 17. Aly Hassan snapped a scoreless tie in the 49th minute with his first goal of the Members Cup season. Burgos gave the hosts some breathing room in the 66th minute, latching onto a poor clearance by the Milwaukee defense and firing home a 25-yard blast that was deflected by a Torrent defender past goalkeeper Kevin Tenjo for a two-goal margin. The Torrent pulled one back in the 88th minute on a play started by Tenjo, who booted a long goal kick that bounced once on the right side of the attacking zone. Jordan Gorman raced onto the ball and chipped Castano from atop the box. Two minutes into stoppage time, Milwaukee stunned the Cosmos by knotting things up at 2-2 as Anthony Coalizi headed home a play started by a throw-in.

Just about the end of the road

New York conceded a pair of first-half goals to Detroit City FC and dropped a 2-1 home decision on Oct. 14, which all but ended its pursuit of the Members Cup crown. The Cosmos (6-1-2, 20 points), who had their 22-game regular-season unbeaten streak snapped, fell out of first place. Detroit City FC, which extended its unbeaten streak to 22 games, tallied in the eighth minute on a Cyrus Saydee goal. The visitors doubled their lead on the half hour. Captain Danny Szetela was awarded a yellow card after fouling Borges 35 yards out. Danny Deakin sent a free kick toward the goal that Yazeed Matthews scored from 10 yards. Lewis sliced the lead in half, heading in a corner kick in the 82nd minute, the third goal conceded by Detroit City that season.

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