Playing the final match of their North American Soccer League (NASL) regular season series, the New York Cosmos and Rayo OKC battled to a 1-1 draw Sunday afternoon at Shuart Stadium.
“We didn’t get the win and the full three points, but this is an important point accumulated in the Fall Season,” said Giovanni Savarese, Cosmos Head Coach. “Every point counts. Of course we want to win games at home, but getting a point is certainly better than nothing.”
New York created the first chance of the match mere seconds after kickoff. Lucky Mkosana positioned himself at the far post to meet Ayoze’s dipping cross from the left sideline, but the Zimbabwean forward’s sliding effort rolled right of the target.
Greek international Georgios Samaras opened the scoring three minutes later for the visitors, when his outstretched right leg connected with Billy Forbes’ cross into the six-yard box.
The Cosmos attack was undeterred by the early deficit. Mkosana continued to pressure the Rayo OKC back line. His glancing header at the near post in the seventh minute forced a reaction save from goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes, who got low enough to deflect the ball out of play.
“After the first goal we adjusted,” said Savarese. “Little by little we started fighting and finding the spaces.”
Persistence paid off for Mkosana in the 38th minute. He juked into the left edge of the penalty area and drew a foul on Kosuke Kimura, setting up midfielder Adam Moffat with an opportunity to equalize from the spot. Moffat’s penalty kick breezed by Fernandes into the lower right corner of the net, leveling the score at 1-1.
“It was a 1-on-1 situation, so I felt like I had to take him on,” Mkosana said of the play that set up Moffat’s score. “I took my chance and it worked out.”
Both sides had opportunities to break the tie in the second half. In the 65th minute, Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer parried away a rising, left-footed blast from Forbes inside the box.
Jairo Arrieta brought fresh legs to the Cosmos’ forward line as a second-half substitute. In the 89th minute, the Costa Rican international combined with Andrés Flores in a run from center circle to the top of the box. Arrieta’s powerful shot from 19 yards was saved.
“We got better as the game went on,” Maurer said. “Towards the end of the first half and for much of the second half we controlled the game. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do what we needed to get the three points.”
With the result, the Cosmos (4-2-2 Fall, 10-2-6 Overall) sit on 14 points for the Fall Season and 32 points total, placing them third in both the Fall Season and Combined Season Standings.