A goal from midfielder Paulo Mendes gave the league-leading New York Cosmos 1-0 victory over the host Minnesota United FC in front of 3,629 spectators on a rainy and cold Saturday evening at NSC Stadium in Blaine, Minn.
The Cosmos, who were making their first visit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes in almost 30 years, extended their unbeaten streak to seven games and have seven-point lead in the NASL Fall Season Standings (21 points) over four teams that are currently tied in second place – Tampa Bay Rowdies, Carolina RailHawks, United and Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
“It was definitely a big win because we played against a very good team,” said Cosmos coach, Giovanni Savarese. “They created many difficulties for us especially in the second half. Our team was very compact and we were able to pull out a very important win.”
The Cosmos forward Sebastian Guenzatti fired a chance from the left corner of the 18-yard box in the ninth minute that skidded wide of the outstretched goalkeeper Matt VanOekel.
In the 24th minute defender Carlos Mendes latched onto a free kick from midfielder Marcos Senna free kick at the far post, but the his header was off the mark.
Minnesota, nearly jumped in front in the 37th minute, but midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan headed the ball over the bar from eight yards out following a corner kick.
Cosmos' Guenzatti managed a dipping volley in injury time that dangerously cleared the crossbar by inches, leaving each side level at 0-0.
The Cosmos got on the board in the second half when the Brazilian Mendes scored off an assist from Bulgarian forward Stefan Dimitrov in the 53rd minute.
Minnesota looked to strike back quickly and level the match in the 55th minute as United forward Mike Ambersley drifted a perfectly weighted ball in the Cosmos area that found the head of Brazilian striker Pablo Campos, but his effort faded just over the crossbar.
Ambersley looked to take matters into his own hands in the 57th minute as he ambled his way into the Cosmos box alone, with just the keeper to beat, but goalkeeper Kyle Reynish was up to the task and off his line quickly, devouring the ball at Ambersley's cleats.
United VanOekel made an exceptional reflex save in the 65th minute after a Cosmos corner found the head of goal scorer Mendes who flicked the cross on net, but VanOekel reacted quickly and punched the effort wide.
Italian forward Simone Bracalello almost leveled the match for Minnesota as he fired a low grounded shot across the mouth of goal in the 89th minute, but it skidded just wide left of the Cosmos post.
Just three minutes later Campos nearly notched his 10th goal of the season but his acrobatic flick sailed harmlessly over the bar.
“In the second half we played really well and the goal was in the run of play," said United head coach Manny Lagos, "I thought we fought a good battle and created chances and my hats off to the Cosmos as they defended well. It was a tough loss as it was a big game for us."
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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|