We had been there once before almost a week before at Hofstra University. Up by a goal. Fans in a frenzy. The NASL trophy in the building. 30 years of waiting…would have to continue. Unbelievable heartbreak set in.
Saturday night The New York Cosmos took to Toyota Field in San Antonio in front of 7700 screaming fans, almost all of which were cheering against them and almost all of them were thinking the same thing – Not In Our House!
From the opening kick, the Cosmos had their backs up against the wall early. It would take the Scorpions only three minutes to put the Cosmos down when their leading scorer Tomasz Zahorski found the net to put the Scorpions up 1-0. But not to worry right? Gio had his boys ready for this.
Minute after minute would pass in the first half. The Cosmos would have multiple chances in the first half especially when Paulo Mendes had a shot that blasted off of the cross bar. But once the whistle blew signaling half time, this Cosmos fan started to think about how it would feel to have to play Atlanta next week with everything on the line if the score held up? But then I remembered the following vision in my head:
The man pictured in that banner of course was Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese and I would bet the entire house that when the Cosmos went into the locker room at half time that coach Gio had some choice words but at the same time told his team to do just as the banner said “Believe”. These Cosmos have been up against adversity before and if they wanted to finish the deal and clinch their spot in Atlanta they would have to overcome a deficit yet again. Cosmos Country was believing at Legends Sports Bar at their viewing party, fans around the world did too. The second half would soon start.
If ever there was a member of the Cosmos that believed in this team as well it was Marcos Senna. Coming to the Cosmos after all those years in Europe, he would come here because he Believed in Gio and the Cosmos plan. So it was almost fitting that he would ring the “wake up” bell in the second half. On a nice cross from Sebastian Guenzatti, Senna struck and struck hard from about the top of the penalty box to net the equalizing goal in the 52nd minute.
After a Diomar Diaz yellow card following Senna’s goal, play would resume on the pitch and the Cosmos wasted no time. This time it would be Diaz that fed Stefan Dimitrov and Dimitrov would strike for his first goal of the season in the 55th minute. Again it was fitting as Dimitrov has served the longest amount of time on the Cosmos back to when they played against Manchester United in the Paul Scholes testimonial match. Dimitrov, who had led the Cosmos in assists with three on the season, has had many great looks at the net this season and finally was able to convert a goal.
With the Cosmos up 2-1 here is where things would get dicey.Along with Kyle Reynish, the only other player that has played 90 minutes every match this year was Marcos Senna. That would change tonight. The Cosmos admiral on the pitch would roll his ankle severely and would have to be replaced by Dane Murphy in the 69th minute. Murphy like Dimitrov, was another long time veteran of the Cosmos dating back to their academy days. Unfortunately for Murphy, unlike Dimitrov, his night would not end well. Murphy was booked for a red card on a play that did not warrant a red card in the 74th minute. This would leave the Cosmos with 10 men to play with for the remainder of the match. 16 long minutes stood in the way of the short handed Cosmos and the soccer bowl- no problem! The defense stepped up again for the Cosmos and finally after a few minutes of stoppage time the wait was over. The whistle blew and the final score read 2-1 Cosmos. The opponent would not come back to tie the match tonight. It no longer mattered what the Rowdies would do in their match. It was time to celebrate a spot in the soccer bowl. After 30 years, after a questionable reboot, those that believed were rewarded- the Cosmos are off to the Soccer Bowl as Fall 2013 NASL champions! BELIEVE THAT!