[NASL: Week 9]The New York Cosmos overcame a 3-1 deficit at halftime to beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 4-3, in front of a home crowd of 6,518 and open a four-point gap at the top of the NASL standings. Second-half goals by Paulo Mendes, Diomar Diaz and former Spanish internationalMarcos Senna -- on 23-yard free kick -- earned the Cosmos a third straight win while handing Tampa Bay its first loss of the NASL fall season.
Mendes was on the receiving end of Rowdies defenderJordan Gafa’s misplaced clearance and placed it past Tampa Bay keeper Diego Restrepo from close range in the 60th minute. Diaz pulled the Cosmos even with his fourth goal in the last three games in the 80th minute, and two minutes later, Senna put a free kick over the Rowdies five-man wall and inside the near post.
Goals from Luke Mulholland, Georgi Hristov, his 12th of the year, and Lucky Mkosana had given the Rowdies a 3-1 interval lead, with Peri Marosevic on target for the Cosmos.
"Today was a huge win for us, a very important win," said Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese. "I have to say that I believed that the team would be able to come back in the second half and win. They were able to do it because we have a great group of guys. They have the will to score goals and the desire to be a winning team. Everybody in the team has that desire. They believe in themselves and when they want to win a game they are able to produce the type of goals they scored tonight."
Wins by the Carolina RailHawks, Minnesota United FC and Atlanta Silverbacks left two points separating the top five teams in the NASL heading in the Sunday showdown between the first-place New York Cosmos and unbeaten Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The Carolina RailHawks extended their unbeaten home record at WakeMed Soccer Park in competitive action in 2013 to 14 games with a 2-0 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who lost for the second consecutive week and fell to sixth place. Second-half goals from midfielder Breiner Ortizand forward Brian Ackley snapped Carolina's four-game winless streak in front of 4,215 spectators.
Striker Pablo Camposscored his ninth goal of the 2013 campaign as Minnesota United FC edged his former club, the San Antonio Scorpions, 1-0, to keep it in the fall title race. "This is our first win at home this fall season," said United FC coach Manny Lagos. "It was a nice gutsy performance and we figured out how to get a win at home. I was really proud of the guys in the second half."
The Atlanta Silverbacks, already qualified for NASL Soccer Bowl 2013 having won the spring title, played for 53 minutes with only 10 men after league assists leader Danny Barrera was sent off, but they earned a 1-0 win over FC Edmonton on Pedro Mendes' 15th-minute kick in front of a packed house of 5,000 at Silverbacks Park.
NASL FALL WEEK 9, Results:
Sunday, Sept. 29
New York 4 Tampa Bay 3
Saturday, Sept. 28
Minnesota 1 San Antonio 0
Carolina 2 Fort Lauderdale 0
Atlanta 1 FC Edmonton 0
(Click here to watch NASL streams.)
NASL FALL, Standings:
PTS TEAM W-L-T +/-
18 New York 5-1-3 9/7
14 Tampa Bay 3-0-5 18/12
14 Carolina 4-3-2 13/9
14 Minnesota 4-3-2 11/9
11 Ft. Lauderdale 3-4-2 7/11
13 Atlanta 3-2-4 0/9
8 FC Edmonton 1-3-5 7/9
4 San Antonio 1-7-1 11/19