“We had the game in our hands to be able to be the spring champions,” said Giovanni Savarese, Cosmos Head Coach. “Even though we created chances, we didn’t look convincing. We didn’t connect the passes going forward that we wanted to.”
In the 35th minute, Jose Angulo earned the Strikers a corner kick with a strong attack into the penalty area that was put aside by Cosmos goalkeeper, Jimmy Maurer. The ensuing set piece was delivered in, headed from the front post to the back by Dalton, and sent into the goal with an Angulo header.
The Colombian born striker’s brace was his second of the season for Fort Lauderdale (4-3-2), while Dalton’s assist was his first of the season.
The Strikers followed up their first half goal with a tally in the 74th minute to make it 2-0.
The Cosmos were able to pull within 2-1 with a goal from Juan Arango two minutes into stoppage time, but it would not be enough.
Arango earned his team-leading fourth goal of the season on a free kick from 22 yards away. Confusion and screening in front of Strikers goalkeeper, Diego Restrepo, made it a one-goal game to add some drama to the finale.
After the Arango goal brought New York back to life and within 2-1, the Cosmos had one final opportunity to equalize in the third minute of stoppage time.
Rubén Bover gained possession deep inside Strikers’ territory and ripped a shot headed for the top of the net. However, the shot had too much pace and whizzed just over the bar for a goal kick.
“The second half was much better,” Savarese said of his team’s effort. “We created many chances. We attacked and had the better of the play.”
New York finishes the Spring Season with 18 points (6-0-4) and a +7 goal differential that is currently good enough for first place. Indy Eleven, Minnesota United FC, Carolina RailHawks, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and the Strikers are all in position to attempt to overtake the Cosmos for first place. The two latter team are the least likely to pass New York due to goal differential. A first place finish in the Spring Season clinches a playoff berth.
“It’s not up to us now,” said Savarese. “It was up to us today and our main goal was to win the Spring Season, but now it depends on the results in order to be able to clinch it.”