Minnesota United 0 – 0 New York Cosmos
– Two disallowed goals in the second half were the biggest talking points in a hard fought back and forth game.
– In the first half, Minnesota seemed to control the run of play but the Cosmos made much better use of their time on the ball putting up several greats shots.
– The second half was a much more evenly matched affair with both teams making frequent breaks against one another. While New York came close, Minnesota actually put the ball into the net twice but play was called back by the referee.
– Sammy N’Djock (MNU) and Jimmy Maurer (NYC) – Both keepers were the heroes of the night and the highlight reel is one massive save after another. Both players’ agents would be wise to ask Minnesota for the game tape.
– Ibson (MNU) – The Brazilian did pretty much everything in this game: Deep runs starting in midfield, fancy footwork, at least one great cross to Christian Ramirez and a decent shot on goal in the 2nd half.
– Walter Restrepo (NYC) – Playing on the right wing, Restrepo had a great chance to score in the 19th minute when Mkosana sent along a great pass. Unfortunately the shot went high. But Restrepo’s runs on the right (and Bover’s on the left to a lesser extent) frequently got the ball into the box.
– Christian Ramirez (MNU) – Minnesota’s lead goalscorer progressively heated up as the game progressed and went from being one step behind crosses in the first half to putting in a (disallowed) goal in the second. On another night (and with a weaker keeper to face) he might have had a hat trick.
– Lucky Mkosana (NYC) – New York’s man up front wasn’t as prolific as United’s but he had a fair number of chances of his own starting in the 2nd minute of the game when a quick flick needed a last second save from N’Djock.
– Alejandro Vela (MNU) – Minnesota fans were scratching their heads after seeing the team sign another attacking mid late in the season. But the 11 minutes he spent on the pitch will have changed minds. Vela made a strong shot in the 84th minute (kept out by Maurer’s heroics) and then followed with a few strong runs on the ball to beat defenders who seemed to have his number. The Mexican national even egged on the crowd at one point; Look for him to become a fan favorite.
– JC Banks (MNU) – Banks seemed to work hard but his runs hardly ever seemed to put him in a position where he threatened to score. On the other hand his replacement Yago made a good run on the ball seconds after coming on.
– The goals that weren’t – Head ref Daniel Fitzgerald made two huge calls that kept the scoreline at 0-0. In the 69th, Daniel Mendes was called back for hand ball after Kevin Venegas put in an expert cross off a free kick. The ball had gone off Mendes’ face onto the ground before he kicked it in. Later in the 73rd Christian Ramirez was called back for offside after putting the ball in. A close look shows that the left leg of the final defender had kept him onside. Both calls should have been goals in a perfect world.
– The Cosmos midfield – Admittedly Raul and Flores are more attacking players but that still doesn’t explain just how easy it was for the Loons to command the middle of the pitch and get at the Cosmos’ box. With Restrepo and Bover also playing attacking roles on the wing, it fell to old man Marcos Senna to repeatedly try (and fail) to put the cork back into the bottle.
You Won’t See On The Highlights
– The ref was mostly decent – Generally Fitzgerald seemed to be doing a great job of maintaining order and discipline. He made a few tough but fair foul calls and wasn’t quick on the cards early in the game. Late on he preferred to hand out yellows than pull players from the game (see the elbow Tiago Calvano put onto Gaston Cellerino late on) which kept the match from becoming a dull affair. Unfortunately the two times Fitzgerald did screw up came on the biggest calls of the game. Guess which part of his performance got more play on Twitter…
– When the two best teams in the league meet, it’s nice to see such an open game. But that’s probably not the way coaches Gio Savarese and Manny Lagos see it. Both will need to study their teams’ defensive shape in preparation for the playoffs. Neither will want to see so much left to their keepers again with a title on the line.