Fort Lauderdale Strikers and the visiting New York Cosmos played to a 1-1 draw in front of 3,257 spectators at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday evening.
“For sure I think this could really help us out for the future,” said Strikers coach Günter Kronsteiner, whose club earns their first point of the 2014 NASL Fall Season. “We can really only congratulate everyone who was on the field, they were really hardworking.
It took just seven minutes for the game’s opening goal. Hans Denissen controlled a cross at the top of the box with his chest and lifted a ball over the defense for forward Jemal Johnson. The former Strikers forward beat James Marcelin in an aerial duel to head the ball past Kamil Contofalsky in goal.
Just two minutes later the Cosmos nearly doubled their lead. Johnson picked out Mads Stokkelien inside the box who cut inside on defender Justin Chavez before firing just wide of the far post.
The Strikers earned a penalty in the 23rd minute of the match after Fafà Picault’s cross struck the arm of Cosmos defender Ayoze. The Brazilian forward Jenison Brito stepped up to the ensuing penalty kick. He lashed the ball past the helpless Jimmy Maurer to score his first goal for the Strikers.
The Strikers’ chances of a comeback were dealt a blow shortly before halftime. Vieira was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Danny Szetela in the 39th minute and the Strikers were forced to play the remainder of the match a man down.
Despite playing shorthanded, the Strikers held their own defensively in the second half. The team also looked lively up top with the athleticism and skill of Brito and Picault impressing and creating chances.
In search of the win, the Cosmos made attack-minded substitutions in the second half. Coach Kronsteiner responded by sending on Colin Murphy, and later, as the Strikers looked more like scoring, Aly Alberto Hassan.
The Cosmos had a good chance to steal the win through Sebastián Guenzatti in the 76th minute. The winger broke through the defense but Contofalsky came off his line and did enough to force Guenzatti into shooting over the goal.
The Strikers looked better and better as the match progressed and Manny Gonzalez had an opportunity at the other end just two minutes later. The midfielder had a dipping freekick from the edge of the area which was tipped over the net by Maurer.
Right back Darnell King broke through the Cosmos defense in the 80th minute on a mazy run and was unlucky to see his effort go just wide of the far post.
It was almost heartbreak for the Strikers in stoppage time. Stefan Dimitrov, who spent part of the 2013 season on loan in Fort Lauderdale, struck the underside of the bar.
“I think that we created the chances we had the opportunities, we just have to be a little bit calmer to finish them up and then we could have controlled the game,” said Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese. “We should have put the ball away in those chances that we had."