If North American Soccer League teams want to get a good idea of how to beat the Cosmos at Shuart Stadium, they'll need to watch tape of the San Antonio Scorpions' two wins there this year.
Saturday night's game was a perfect example. The Scorpions bottled up the Cosmos, played with intensity and made the most of their scoring chances en route to a 3-1 win in the fall season opener for both teams in front of 3,806 spectators.
Midfielder Rafael Castillo scored twice in the opening half and Sainey Touray added an insurance goal in the second half. In the opening 69 minutes, the Cosmos allowed as many goals (three) as they had in their nine spring season games.
"We got to look at ourselves in the mirror and realize that we can't just step on the field because we have a good team and we've had success and teams are going to bow down to us," said right back Hunter Freeman, who scored the Cosmos' lone goal off a 28-yard free kick in the 57th minute. "It's the opposite. Teams are going to be up for us. We're going to get every team's best shot."
In a spring season match April 26, San Antonio used similar tactics in a 1-0 win, a result that snapped the Cosmos' 14-game unbeaten streak and their 25-match unbeaten streak at Hofstra.
Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said this game was more the way the Cosmos played than the Scorpions' performance.
"Our team wasn't aggressive enough," he said. "They wanted it more. Our team was a little bit flat . . . We're a team that is always competitive. Today was [not the] case for the first time."
Castillo did all of the damage for the Scorpions in the opening half.
After goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer knocked down Castillo in the penalty area, the midfielder fired the ensuing penalty kick to the lower right corner. Maurer guessed correctly, getting a piece of the ball. It hit the right post and went into the net in the 41st minute.
"I made a mistake," Maurer said of the penalty. "I should have done better before the call. I gave the ref a chance to make a call. So that's on me."
Three minutes into first-half stoppage time, Castillo powered a 28-yard free kick that hit the underside of the crossbar and then the right post for a 2-0 halftime advantage.
After Hunter's goal, Touray restored the Scorpions' two-goal lead in the 69th minute when he chipped Maurer from 12 yards.
"To give up a goal like that, that is a back-breaker," Maurer said.
"It's just deflating," Freeman said.