Even without the great Marcos Senna and Raul, these Cosmos proved they still can be one formidable side.
Their season-opening 3-0 win over Ottawa Fury FC was a perfect example as the reigning North American Soccer League champions did not miss a beat without the two retired Spanish legends.
“The team had a lot of good moments,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said.
Perhaps none more than those provided by Venezuelan international midfielder Juan Arango, who struck twice within a two-minute span in a rematch of last year’s Soccer Bowl final before a chilly crowd of 5,094 Sunday night at Shuart Stadium.
“Any player dreams of having a great debut, a great day,” Arango said through an interpreter. “Even better when you can score two goals and it’s a dream. It’s a dream debut for us.”
The crafty 35-year-old hardly looked his age, moving around well and keeping the defense on its toes. “Arango had a very good game in being smart in finding spaces, being able to get those balls in the right area to be able to score,” Savarese said. “He was huge for us.”
So were some other players.
Costa Rican Jairo Arrieta pulled goalkeeper Romuald Pieser out of the goal before crossing the ball from the right in the 36th minute, allowing Arango to slot the ball into an empty net. Two minutes later, Sebastian Guenzatti fired a shot that Pieser spilled as Arango put home an easy rebound.
Second-half sub Adam Moffat, who missed most of the latter part of last season with a lower leg injury and was sidelined from preseason with a sprained ankle, made up for lost time. He tallied the goal of the game, chipping Pieser from 40 yards in the 71st minute.
When he spotted the keeper out of the net. Moffat admitted he “panicked a little bit.”
“When it comes to you like that, so many things come through your mind,” he said. “Do you take a touch or do you hit it hard? I composed myself a little bit.”
Jimmy Maurer (four saves), who made a spectacular kick-stop on Paulo Junior’s close-range attempt in the 53rd minute, warned about getting too overconfident.
“It’s very early in the season,” he said. “These points don’t mean anything if we go downhill from here. We’ve got a lot of games left. Our goal is to win the spring season. We’ve got to cut out mistakes.”