By Dylan Butler
Second-half goals by Diomar Diaz and Marcos Senna lifted the New York Cosmos to a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a top-of-the-table clash at Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University Sunday afternoon.
The Cosmos, won captured their third straight win and improved to 4-0-1 at home, maintained sole possession of first place in handing Tampa Bay its first loss of the season.
Diaz pulled the Cosmos within a goal in the 80th minute with a Route One run, pushing the ball past goalkeeper Diego Resptreo for his team-leading fourth goal of the year.
Two minutes later, Senna put a 23-yard free kick over the Rowdies five-man wall and inside the near post for his third goal of the year, sending the crowd of 6,518 into hysterics.
The Rowdies jumped in front in the 20th minute when Luke Mulholland intercepted an attempted clearance from a Cosmos and fired it to the right of Reynish for his seventh goal of the season.
The Cosmos equalized three minutes later on Peri Marosevic’s second goal of the season. Marcos Senna sent a free kick to the top right of the 18-yard box where it was headed twice by Cosmos players before landing to Stefan Dimitrov, whose point-blank shot was saved by Restrepo.
The rebound squirted out and Marosevic pounded, putting the ball past the goal line before Restrepo could swat it away.
Georgi Hristov broke a 1-1 tie with his team-leading 12th goal, touching the ball past an onrushing Kyle Reynish in the 34th minute.
Evans Frimpong received a long ball from the back, chested it and played the ball to Hristov, picking up his second assist of the year.
Lucky Mkosana doubled the Rowdies lead in the first minute of first-half stoppage time, taking a ball from Devin Del Do and chipping it over Reynish from just outside the 18-yard box.
The Cosmos pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute on Paulo Mendes’ first goal of the season. The Brazilian midfielder picked off an attempted Tampa Bay clearance and put a low shot inside the far post from 16 yards out to cut New York’s deficit to 3-2.
The goal came after an extended period of pressure in the Rowdies defensive third, including a shot on frame by Dimitrov that Restrepo parried over the crossbar in the 58th minute.
The Cosmos threatened to equalize in the 72nd minute when Senna had the ball at his feet inside the box, but was unable to tee up a shot. Instead, second-half substitute Hagop Chirishian unleashed an attempt, but it went over the crossbar.
The Rowdies nearly put the game away in the 78th minute, but Del Do was robbed by Reynish from point-blank range.
That save proved huge because Diomar Diaz equalized two minutes later and Senna added the winner two minutes later.
Mulholland nearly tied the game in the 90th minute, but his free kick from 28 yards went just over the bar.
Tampa Bay had the game’s first quality chance in the seventh minute when Mulholland set up for a free kick. But his low attempt was saved by Reynish, who dived to his left.
Five minutes later, Paulo Mendes had a chance for the Cosmos, but his volley off the bounce from 16 yards was off target.
New York had a great chance to tie the game again in the 37th minute when Dimitrov latched onto a Hunter Freeman cross, but his open header from eight yards out was wide of the net.
Tampa Bay will next take on Florida rival Fort Lauderdale at Lockhart Stadium next Saturday, while the Cosmos head to Minnesota to take on the Minnesota United FC at NSC Stadium.
Before the game, legendary Cosmos goalkeeper Shep Messing was honored, presented with a soccer ball signed by every member of the current team.
Messing, who is also a renowned broadcaster, played six seasons in the North American Soccer League, making his Cosmos debut May 20, 1974.
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|New York Cosmos||14||9||4||1||10||31|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||5||5||4||3||20|
|Minnesota United FC||14||6||2||6||2||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
|San Antonio Scorpions||14||3||1||10||-9||10|
|San Antonio Scorpions||12||6||2||4||4||20|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|