The visiting New York Cosmos were held to a 2-2 draw by Indy Eleven at Michael A. Carroll Stadium on Saturday night, Aug. 30. It was just the second meeting ever between the two clubs.
The Cosmos, who were coming off a hard-fought draw against league leaders Minnesota United last weekend, got on the scoresheet early when David Diosa found himself completely unmarked to head home an Andrés Flores cross in the 6th minute. Diosa became the 12th different New York player to find the back of the net this season.
Despite going down a goal early and conceding much of the possession and chances in the opening 20 minutes, Indy didn’t just sit back and defend. It was just the opposite in fact, as the hosts continued to grow into the match and started to create their own opportunities around the 25 minute mark.
Cosmos goalie Kyle Zobeck, who was making his first start of the year filling in for the suspended Jimmy Maurer, was called into action twice in the later stages of the first half. The second was a fantastic save at full stretch to deny Indy midfielder Kléberson’s first-time blast from the edge of the area in the 36th minute. Indy continued to press in an effort to find an equalizer before the half, but the team's aggressiveness left them exposed at the back. And after playing a neat one-two with Danny Mwanga, Mads Stokkelien found himself in a near wide-open position to calmly side-foot home a goal and double New York’s advantage in the 42nd minute. It was the Norwegian’s fifth goal of the campaign.
But the hosts came out of the dressing room a different side in the second half. Eleven forward Mike Ambersley created the first real chance of the half, with his effort flying just wide of Zobeck’s goal. But Indy continued to push, and the team would soon give the home crowd something to cheer about at Carroll Stadium. It was Ambersley again posing the threat, and this time he was in the right place at the right time to tap home Victor Pineda’s low cross in the 61st minute.
The game continued to flow after Indy’s goal, with chances coming at both ends of the field. The Cosmos came close to restoring their two-goal advantage on 70 minutes, when Mads Stokkelien found a completely unmarked Danny Szetela on the edge of the area, but his shot whistled across the face of Kristian Nicht’s goal before safely going out of play. Cosmos substitute Connor Lade brought Nicht into action once more with his stinging effort in the 76th minute, but the German keeper was equal to the shot.
The Cosmos continued to have the majority of the chances from open play in the final 15 minutes, but head coach Giovanni Savarese must’ve felt uneasy when he saw five additional minutes go up on the board at the end of the 90. Those fears were confirmed in the 93rd minute, when Indy midfielder Jermaine Johnson latched onto fellow midfielder Blake Smith’s perfectly-weighted ball over the top, and chipped Kyle Zobeck to score an Indy equalizer and rescue a point for the home side.
“We’re really pleased with the result and the effort from our players,” said Indy Eleven coach, Juergen Sommer. “At halftime, we had a lot to talk about, and we came out with nothing to lose. We knew we needed to keep the crowd in it and play with energy, and once Ambersley scored, we really felt that we could get the equalizer.”
Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese also commented after the game: “We need to do a better job of maintaining the lead, but give credit to Indy because they made it difficult for us. We created some chances at the end and we could have capitalized and finished the game off, but we didn’t get the job done.”
The Cosmos will return home next Saturday, Sept. 6 to face the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at James M. Shuart Stadium, while Indy Eleven will head to Atlanta to take on the Silverbacks.