The New York Cosmos scored three goals in a span of 13 minutes early in the second half to beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 3-0, at Al Lang Stadium Saturday night.
The Cosmos, who won their second straight game in the North American Soccer League Spring Season, had scored just two goals in their previous four matches.
After a scoreless first half, the Cosmos (4-2-0), which pulled within a point of co-leaders Fort Lauderdale and Minnesota pending the result of their match Saturday, scored a pair of goals in three minutes to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
In the 48th minute, Mads Stokkelien got his head on a cross by Marcos Senna and then beat Tampa Bay goalkeeper Ryan Thompson with a low shot to put New York in front.
Three minutes later, Ayoze put a low free kick from 20 yards through the outside of the wall and to Thompson’s right to double the Cosmos advantage.
In the 61st minute, Paulo Mendes stalked Jay Needham and stripped the Tampa Bay defender from behind before putting a low shot past Thompson to give the Cosmos a commanding 3-0 lead.
Cosmos fullback Hunter Freeman was particularly active in the attacking third in the opening 20 minutes, putting a shot on frame six minutes into the match and forcing Tampa Bay goalkeeper Matt Pickens to dive to his right on a 30-yard blast that was just wide of the far post in the 20th minute.
Pickens sustained a quad/thigh injury on the ensuing goal kick and was replaced by Thompson moments later.
The Cosmos return to Shuart Stadium to take on Indy Eleven on May 24 at 7 p.m.