Ansi Agolli and Junior Burgos scored in the second half to lift the New York Cosmos to a 3-1 victory over FC Baltimore Christos in the Northeast Region Final of the National Premier Soccer League playoffs at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Sunday night.
The top-seeded Cosmos, who were awarded the Northeast Region trophy after the game, will host an NPSL National Semifinal match against ASC San Diego at Mitchel on Saturday, July 27, at 7 p.m.
Agolli connected for the game-winning goal for the second consecutive match after tallying the lone goal in the 1-0 North Atlantic Conference Final win over the Brooklyn Italians. The Albanian national team captain produced his heroics, firing home a shot from atop the left side of the box past goalkeeper Casey Beyers.
Burgos added an insurance goal in the 82nd minute, drilling in a shot from the left side for a 3-1 margin.
Baltimore was forced to play the final half-hour at a man down after defender Joseph Glos was assessed a red card in the 60th minute. Both teams had players ejected as Cosmos forward Aaron Dennis, a second-half substitute, and Baltimore’s Khalid Balogun were given their marching orders for fighting in the 90th minute.
The Cosmos enjoyed a distinct possession and shot advantage in the opening half of the game, but the teams went into the locker room at halftime tied at 1-1.
Five minutes into the match, the Cosmos struck. Junior Burgos found space some 20 yards out and fired a shot that goalkeeper Beyers stopped and Isaac Acuna pounced on the loose ball from the rebound and slipped the ball home at the near post to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage.
FC Baltimore equalized on a counterattack in the 45th minute as Nicholas Gumbs found himself 1-v-1 with a Cosmos defender before beating goalkeeper Paul Blanchette from nine yards for a 1-1 deadlock. The score snapped the Cosmos’ shutout streak at 678 minutes as the visitors tallied the first goal since the 3-1 win at Boston City FC on June 15.
Beyers had a busy first half, making four saves. He caught Burgos’ 24-yard free kick in the 41st minute and then denied Ricardo Bocanegra in stoppage time.