A goal from midfielder Sebástian Guenzatti gave the visiting New York Cosmos a 1-0 win over Ottawa Fury FC in front of an NASL modern era attendance record of 14,593 at TD Place on Sunday afternoon.
A goal from midfielder Sebástian Guenzatti gave the visiting New York Cosmos to a 1-0 win over Ottawa Fury FC in front of an NASL modern era attendance record of 14,593 at TD Place on Sunday afternoon.
The previous attendance record was 13,151 by San Antonio Scorpions - who packed Heroes Stadium in their home opener in 2012. This is also the most spectators in an NASL match in the Canadian province of Ontario since 1984.
New York threatened throughout the opening half on the left flank, where former Blackburn winger Jemal Johnson started the first offensive flurry of the match in the 10th minute. Sprinting past Ottawa defender Drew Beckie to a through ball on the left flank, Johnson centered the ball into the Ottawa penalty area, where it pinged around before a Cosmos shot was blocked crucially by Fury FC defender Mason Trafford.
Just two minutes later, Beckie would be subbed off with what appeared to be a lower-body injury. His replacement, Carl Haworth, took over further up the field as a right winger, with versatile Philippe Davies, who started the match on the wing, shifted back into Beckie's slot in the back four.
The crowd was jolted to life in the 17th minute when Ottawa winger Oliver headed the ball cheekily over a Cosmos defender before regaining possession and blasting a volleyed effort high over the Cosmos net.
After withstanding multiple Cosmos attacks, the hosts threatened again in the 29th minute, when Maykon's free kick from distance floated untouched through a mass of bodies in front of Cosmos 'keeper Jimmy Maurer, forcing the New York 'keeper into an important and unexpected reactionary save.
Four minutes later, it was Fury FC frontman Tom Heinemann testing Maurer. Receiving a pass from Tony Donatelli, Heinemann 'nutmegged' his defender, picked the ball up on the other side, then finessed a shot that seemed destined for the far corner - until Maurer dove to his left to make an important stop.
The save from Maurer proved to be influential, as Sebastian Guenzatti would put the visitors up just three minutes later. Capitalizing on an abysmal Ottawa defensive clearance, Guenzatti picked up the loose ball and slotted home with a cool finish.
While the first half saw glimpses of exciting and controversial action, both head coaches believed their sides had improved performances ahead of them in the second half.
Fury FC head coach Marc Dos Santos made just one change at half-time, lifting winger Oliver in favor of hulking striker Vini Dantas, and it paid dividends, with Dantas creating two excellent opportunities within six minutes of the restart. His centering effort in the 49th minute was scissor-kicked by Tony Donatelli towards an empty Cosmos net, but New York defender Hunter Freeman made an impressive block. Two minutes later, Dantas enjoyed an opportunity of his own, rolling a shot from point-blank range wide.
On the Cosmos end of things, they created just one legitimate chance in the second half, when Sebastian Guenzatti placed a superb ball into the box for an unmarked Hans Denissen. The Dutchman's one-timed effort deflected off the top of the Ottawa crossbar, and he'll rue that miss for some time.
The match settled into a midfield-centric lull for the better part of thirty minutes, with neither team creating much in the way of offensive chances - just as the Cosmos, comfortable defending their 1-0 lead, wanted.
Fury FC finally began to truly press in the final ten minutes, with two Carl Haworth half-chances missing the target. Ottawa's best chance to tie the match came in the 83rd minute, when captain Richie Ryan sent a low, hard ball into the Cosmos box. Big striker Tom Heinemann put some impressive power into his ensuing volley, but it missed the Cosmos net.
Sebastian Guenzatti, the Cosmos goalscorer, picked up a booking in the 87th minute for time-wasting, much to the chagrin of the thousands of booing Ottawa faithful who jeered him off the pitch.
Despite multiple corners and set pieces in injury time, Ottawa couldn't level the score, and the Cosmos went home with a very professionally-earned three points - they scored, they managed the game well, and when it came down to it, they defended with their teeth to the final whistle.
Fury FC head coach Marc Dos Santos was not displeased with his side's effort, saying, "It's tough to create so many chances against New York - they only conceded three goals the whole spring season. Normally, teams don't create that much, and today we created. If you're going to lose, lose like that - lose with many scoring opportunities, lose with creativity and flair."
Cosmos head coach Gio Savarese was thoroughly satisfied with the afternoon's affair, saying, "We were controlling the game early and we were able to get good mobility, create some chances and we were able to find the goal. I am very proud of our guys; they were able to fight for every ball as Ottawa was giving us a lot of pressure. We are content to get three points here and we'll go one game at a time."
Photo by Steve Kingsman