The San Antonio Scorpions had to postpone their match against the New York Cosmos to Sunday due to inclement weather caused by Hurricane Patricia. It turned out to be a beautiful day to play the beautiful game. The game did not end the way the home fans wanted and leaves the club facing many questions going into this offseason with 1 game left.
The Cosmos swept the season series against the Scorpions with a 2-1 win over the 2014 NASL champs. The first 20 minutes of the game were pretty uneventful, both sides learning to deal with the winds. The Scorpions however, would play the remainder of the first half on the offensive. Multiple opportunities presented themselves, but fizzled out by the Cosmos defense. The breakthrough came via Billy Forbes who was able to slot the ball home past New York keeper, Jimmy Maurer, in the 43'. It was Billy's 5th goal of the year and 10th as a Scorpion which ties him with current teammate, Omar Cummings, for 5th on the Scorpions' all-time goals scoring list.
The 2nd half belonged to the Cosmos as Marcos Senna tied the game in the 62' with a well taken penalty that had Scorpion keeper Daniel Fernandes second guess himself and was sent the wrong way. The visitors kept the pressure on and were able to take the lead via a great free-kick given just outside the 18 yard box. Ayoze slotted home the goal in the upper 90 past Fernandes. The Scorpions didn't give up though and had their best chance to tie the game in the 80' when goalscorer Billy Forbes shot off a great volley that forced Jimmy Maurer into a spectacular save.
The Scorpions are now 3-0-5 all-time against the New York Cosmos in the regular season since their reincarnation and 1-0-0 in post-season play.
San Antonio wraps up its 2015 campaign next Saturday when they face Minnesota United in Blaine. The highest the Scorpions can climb up the combined standings is a tie for 7th place with a win - they currently sit in last place.
San Antonio finishes up their 2015 home record at 4-5-6, a far cry from their 2014 home record of 8-3-3 + 2-0-0 in The Championship.
Soccer On -ASC
All-time regular season series: Tied 3-0-3
2015 head-to-head series: NYC leads 1-0-0
San Antonio is coming off a hard fought draw against the surging Atlanta Silverbacks in Georgia. After falling behind 3-1, the visitors never gave up and earned a road point. NASL Golden Boot leader, Omar Cummings, netted himself a brace in the Jungle and has a 3 goal lead over the next two players in the goals scored category. While it seems as though the offense is finally clicking, the defense has yet to improve, in fact, it has allowed more goals in the same number of games as it did in the spring.
The Scorpions seemingly have addressed their defensive deficiencies after signing GK Daniel Fernandes & Khari Stephenson on loan, and acquiring Milton Palacios last week. Stephenson was the only new signing that saw any play time against the Silverbacks. Whether or not these additions make a difference is yet to be seen as they haven't played though.
The road to a top 4 finish isn't getting any easier for the Alamo City boys, either. Their next opponent won the spring season championship, thrashed the Scorpions in their spring meeting 3-0, and have only lost one game this season. The New York Cosmos have secured their berth in the post season Championship but have been overtaken in the combined standings by the Ottawa Fury for the Woosnam Cup. It will be an uphill battle for the Scorpions the rest of the fall. If they can manage a win in New York, they will be only a win or two from that coveted top 4 standing. With the way this season has turned out, the fact that a post season berth is still possible is amazing.
Q & A with Nick & Luis, co-hosts of Cosmos Country Podcast.
ASC: It seems as though the "Raúl effect" hasn't really materialized in getting more spectators in the stands. If so, why not? What seems to be missing in order to get people to come out to games?
Nick: It was a big story at first but since then it has worn off. In terms of getting supporters out, that is not because Raúl is no longer a star, that has more to do with the location of Hofstra. The Real Madrid fans all came out to the first game and if the stadium was more accessible to Public Transportation, they most likely would come out to more games.
Luis: Also, the perception of NASL being a minor league has definitely hurt its numbers. Raúl is a name that is recognized, but some of the stars being brought over to NYCFC have more pull. As suspect as the whole Lampard situation was, he is a recent star of EPL and a name like Pirlo is hard to compete with.
ASC: After running the table in the spring, how is the coaching staff keeping the players focused, since they already have a place in The Championship?
Nick: I think the focus is going to be a challenge to keep but throwing in younger players into the mix helps keep players fresh. For example, seeing Haji Wright get a start as well as Ruben Bover from Cosmos B. This is exciting not only the crowd but the whole organization to see younger stars from their B team get into the A team.
Luis: The younger stars are absolutely getting much attention and excitement. But other guys who struggled to find minutes in the spring are also getting their chance to shine. Recently Adam Moffat has seen much more time than players like Danny Szetela and players like Sebastian Guenzatti and Andres Flores who found it hard to break into the Starting XI are seeing more time as players like Walter Restrepo and Leo Fernandes see more rest.
ASC: What's the latest news on a stadium? Is Brooklyn in serious consideration, instead of Belmont?
Nick: The Borough President of Brooklyn is very serious about wanting a soccer team in NYC. I think it would be a fantastic option. Belmont is still pending an answer from the state. Just an answer. It has been 3 years since the Cosmos submitted their response to the RFP and no one has given an answer. The Cosmos are opening up their options to other locations at this point.
Luis: Nick nailed it.
ASC: Is it the money, the brand recognition, both or something else that has brought players like Haji Wright and Alexis Velela to New York?
Nick: I think it's a little Brand Recognition and money but I think the key factor is the freedom of signing with NASL. Signing with MLS is not the best option for many younger stars and the NASL model frees them up to not only sign with whom they want but then go overseas with no ties.
Luis: I think between the freedom of the NASL with signings (like Nick explained) and the establishment of a potent B team focused on development and granting a pathway to the first team, there are a number of reasons they would be drawn here.
ASC: Thoughts on #NYCSoccerWarz? Are Cosmos fans embracing it?
Nick: Oh big time! The Cosmos fans are very vocal about their participation into the NYC Soccer Wars. To me, the Cup is a lot of fun when we play the two MLS sides. It brings about some great atmosphere. However, just win hardware!
Luis: The Cosmos fans definitely do. Between the banter, memes, tifos, and actual gameday environment, there is no question.
ASC: NYC's biggest rival in NASL?
Nick: Tampa - There is History between the clubs as well as a modern day fan rivalry. Also the teams have played some really fun games.
Luis: I will say Tampa for historical reasons, but in the modern era I don't think the fireworks are all there. Based on the chippiness of their last two encounters, I think we are seeing one developing with Ottawa.
Nick: I'm a homer 3-1 Cosmos
Luis: I think the Cosmos will take this. San Antonio has been bleeding goals lately and I'm inclined to think we might see a repeat of the 3-0 win from spring.
The Scorpions can't lean on their defense to help them win games; the only way they will win is if they can score - and score often! An away match against the Cosmos is always difficult, especially during the season that they are having! With only one loss this season, it is hard to predict that they would lose to the Scorpions on their home turf. I have to agree with Nick, a 3-1 loss seems a likely outcome for this weekend's match up.
The game is this Saturday, August 15th in New York. Kick-off is at 6:00pm CST. #NYCvSAS
A big thanks to Nick & Luis from Cosmos Country Podcast (@TICCPod) for taking the time to answer some questions for me!
Soccer On -ASC
The San Antonio Scorpions dropped a 3-0 decision to the league leading New York Cosmos on Saturday. The loss means that it is mathematically impossible for the Scorpions to claim the Spring title. The title chase only has four contenders left: the New York Cosmos, Minnesota United, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and the Jacksonville Armada.
San Antonio had a handful of chances to score in the game that went unclaimed. Even after the Cosmos were awarded a penalty kick in the 18' minute that Raúl slotted home, the visitors looked to equalize until the 81' minute when the home team doubled their lead. It didn't take long for it to become 3-0 and any thought of leaving New York with any points vanished.
Though this is a disappointing result, the Scorpions will host two out of their three remaining Spring games. Getting as many points out of these three games will be crucial in order to have a good starting point for the Fall season in the combined standings. With only three games left, the Scorpions can earn a maximum of 16 total points from the Spring season; that's IF they win out.
Up next is the Hill Country Derby, U.S. Open edition, on Wednesday against the Austin Aztex. San Antonio will be looking to avenge their 4-1 preseason drubbing to the USL side. In league play, San Antonio will return to Toyota Field to host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in a rematch of the 2014 Soccer Bowl.
I hope y'all had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Don't forget to thank those who are or who have served in the armed forces - we owe our freedom to them!
Soccer On -ASC
The Cosmos made the biggest player signing in modern NASL history when they inked Raúl for the start of the 2015 season. They also were able to sign former Scorpion, Walter Restrepo, as well as others that have played themselves to the top of the league. They are in prime position to win the Spring title, and with a win against San Antonio, they will eliminate the Scorpions from the Spring title mathematically. The Cosmos made a miraculous come back win last week at Carolina to keep their unbeaten start alive. They were down 0-2 to the Railhawks and scored two goals, both in stoppage time, to secure a point for their efforts.
San Antonio, on the other hand, is on a two game winning streak after losing three of its first four games and seem to be gelling together. They have the league's leading scorer in Omar Cummings but have the league's second worst goals against record having already given up 11 goals in six games. On Tuesday, San Antonio's defense took another hit when Sporting Kansas City recalled Saad Abdul-Salaam from his loan. Keeping New York's attack at bay will be crucial for a San Antonio victory in New York.
Last season & Outlook.
San Antonio leads the all-time series against the Cosmos, 4-0-2, including a victory in last years Championship semi-final. New York and San Antonio were very familiar with each other in 2014. The Scorpions swept the season series in 2014, including two wins in New York and two in San Antonio; the first win in San Antonio came by a stoppage-time goal from captain Adrian Cann to secure the Fall Season title. They would meet the following week in the Championship semi-final where the Scorpions were victorious after the game went into added time.
2015 has gone quite well for the Cosmos. They are on track to win the Spring, but even if they don't, they have set themselves up nicely for a good Fall in order for them to qualify for the playoffs. San Antonio is technically still alive in the Spring race, but if they lose to New York this week, they will be eliminated from Spring title contention. San Antonio needs to continue to improve, accumulate as many points as possible so that they can have a change to qualify for the post-season in the Fall.
Players to watch.
Raúl. It's pretty simple. While the team has plenty of quality players, none are on the level of Raúl. It's a big test for all of our players as many of them have seldom, if ever, played against such a soccer legend. Any nerves the Scorpions have need to be left in San Antonio.
For San Antonio, the players I'll be watching are Billy Forbes and Adrian Cann. Forbes has had two solid back-to-back games. His presence in the attacking third adds another dimension that can either free up Omar Cummings, or allow him to score on his own. On the back line, I'll look to Cann for his leadership in making sure that the Cosmos stay out of Daryl Sattler's net. The Cosmos have four players with two goals each this season, meaning their scoring chances will likely come from many places. This will be a big test for the Scorpions' defense.
San Antonio is 2-0-1 when playing the Cosmos in New York. The Scorpions are playing much better than at the start of the season, but still have questions to be answered on defense. I predict a 2-2 draw for the visitors. The Scorpions need to focus on getting as many points as possible for the remainder of the Spring. Stealing a point from the league leaders will be a decent result.
The game is this Saturday, May 23 in Hempstead, New York at 6pm CST. #NYCvSAS
Soccer On -ASC
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