The result wasn’t the same as when they won their first two home games in second half stoppage time, but the New York Cosmos arguably played their best match in a 1-1 draw against the Atlanta Silverbacks Saturday night at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
“Every game the team looks better,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said. “I think today was probably our best game so far. We completely dominated the ball, we created chances, they only had one opportunity, which was the goal. I see the team maturing very much.”
New York (2-1-3), which remains undefeated at home, outshot Atlanta 17-7 and had nine corner kicks to the Silverbacks three, but only Marcos Senna was able to solve Atlanta goalkeeper Joe Nasco, who made eight saves in a spectacular performance.
“He’s a really good goalkeeper, probably the best one we played so far,” Senna said. “He’s very courageous, he come out a lot strong. He kept them in the game.”
Senna, the NASL Player of the Week, put the Cosmos in front on a 44th-minute penalty kick, his second in as many games. The Spanish midfielder put a low shot to Nasco’s right.
Prior to the Senna’s goal, New York defender Carlos Mendes headed the ball off the crossbar. Stefan Dimitrov attempted to corral the rebound, but was taken down by Atlanta’s Pedro Mendes in the box.
After a brief delay, referee Daniel Radford pointed to the spot where Senna clinically finished.
Atlanta (1-1-4) equalized in the 49th minute when an unmarked Shane Moroney headed Pablo Cruz’s free kick to the right of New York goalkeeper Kyle Reynish.
“I feel that we dominated the game from beginning to the end and it’s a shame we couldn’t finish them off when we had them,” Senna said. “They had one shot and it went in. That kind of tells the story.”
The Cosmos had almost a constant barrage of shots in the final 20 minutes, but Nasco stood tall.
In the 76th minute, Hagop Chirishian, who was freed toward goal after the ball deflected off an Atlanta defender, was robbed by Nasco, who came off his line.
A minute later, Nasco dived to his left to parry away a long distance attempt by Hunter Freeman.
“It’s definitely frustrating when you dominate a game like that,” Freeman said. “Maybe with the exception of last week [at Edmonton] and when we played away at Carolina, I think every goalkeeper we played against has played the best game of their life.”
Atlanta was reduced to 10 men in the second minute of second half stoppage time when Pedro Mendes received his second yellow card.
But New York was unable to capitalize with any late-game magic as it had in its first two home games.
“There’s something working, we’re getting there, we’re gaining chances, we’re close to the goalkeeper,” Savarese said. “The goalkeeper today had a great game. Now we need to work a little more on putting the ball into the net because we created so many opportunities today and we could have definitely won the game.”
Savarese was forced to use his first substitution before the half-hour mark when Italian striker Alessandro Noselli pulled a muscle in his right leg. He was replaced by Kashiwase, a Japanese forward on loan from Shimizu S-Pulse, in the 21st minute.
“We have depth,” Savarese said. “We have used many players and everybody that steps on the field does a great job.”
Atlanta, which is tied with FC Edmonton with seven points from six matches, extended its winless streak to five matches. The Silverbacks returns to Atlanta Silverbacks Park to face the San Antonio Scorpions next Saturday, while the Cosmos, who are in fourth place with nine points, one behind Tampa Bay, Carolina and Fort Lauderdale, host Minnesota United.
“The team is growing and today showed a lot of composure, a lot of maturity and we played very, very well,” Savarese said.
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