The championship match with Minnesota in 1995 was tied at Mitchel Athletic Complex, regulation time winding down in Uniondale. Then Giovanni Savarese untied it with six seconds left to give the Long Island Rough Riders first prize in the United States Interregional Soccer League.
“I remember that play,” said Tony Meola, the Hall of Famer who was the goalkeeper for the Rough Riders and teamed with Savarese the following three seasons in MLS with the MetroStars. “But that’s just memories now. We’re trying to make new ones.”
These longtime friends were at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium Sunday night. This time, they were trying to beat each other — Savarese as the third-year coach of the defending NASL champion Cosmos vs. Meola, the Jersey guy who grew up rooting for the original Cosmos, in his regular-season debut as the coach of the Jacksonville Armada.
Savarese and the Cosmos emerged with the happier memory — a 2-0 win.
“It’s always tough when you have to play against a good friend and an ex-teammate,” Savarese said. “ . . . I’m sure he’s going to do very well during the season.”
The Cosmos, who have claimed two of the three championships since their restart, are off to a 2-0 start in the 10-game spring season after adding 10 new players.
“It’s definitely a positive sign, these first two matches,” Savarese said. “But we need to grow still as a team.”
Newcomer Jairo Arrieta scored the first goal from the right side of the box in the 29th minute. Keeper Miguel Gallardo got a piece of the shot but not a big enough piece.
“We have dangerous players,” midfielder Adam Moffat said.
Moffat added his second goal in two games, scoring in the 55th minute. The Armada had a 10-0 edge in corner kicks, but Jimmy Maurer only had to make one save. Savarese’s team earned its second straight shutout.
“I’m proud of him for all of his success,” Meola said. “ . . . I thought we were pretty good for the first 30 minutes until the first goal. Like the Cosmos do, you make a mistake and they make you pay.”