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Cosmos' Marcos Senna, Leo Fernandes score for capacity crowd

New York Cosmos midfielder Leo Fernandes #22, right,

New York Cosmos midfielder Leo Fernandes #22, right, celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Rowdies with teammates during the second half of the Cosmos' home opener at Hofstra's James M. Shuart Stadium on Saturday, April 18, 2015. Photo Credit: Brad Penner

A capacity crowd packed James Shuart Stadium most likely to watch Spanish scoring legend Raul in his home Cosmos debut Saturday night.

Raul didn't score, but the 12,550 who set a modern Cosmos record attendance at Hofstra certainly did not go home disappointed.

Marcos Senna converted a first-half penalty kick and North Babylon native Leo Fernandes tallied his second goal of the season to power the Cosmos to a 2-0 North American Soccer League win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

With former Cosmos great Pele watching from a private suite with some of his former teammates, the Cosmos remained unbeaten (2-0-1) as goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer recorded his second shutout. The Rowdies fell to 1-1-1.

"It was definitely one of the greatest days of the new era," Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said. "We had a lot of energy. It wasn't only about the amount of people. It was the energy inside the place."

It did not take the Cosmos long to draw first blood after Rowdies midfielder Darnell King was called for a hand ball while going up for the ball with Cosmos striker Mads Stokkelien.

Senna took the ensuing penalty kick. He stopped for a split second before he rifled the ball past goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky into the lower-right corner for a 1-0 advantage in the 11th minute.

Tampa Bay's Tamika Mkandawire almost put his team into a two-goal hole in the 34th minute while battling Raul for the ball in the penalty area. He headed the ball back toward his goal, forcing Contofalsky to parry it over the net.

Danny Szetela fired a shot from the right side of the penalty area but Contofalsky made a two-handed save in the 38th minute.

Only a minute later, Maurer finally saw some action, stopping Robert Hernandez from close range. The ball trickled past Maurer, but he pounced on it before a Rowdies player could do some damage.

Brian Shriver danced around the right flank, beating several Cosmos defenders in traffic in the 43rd minute, before sending a dangerous shot just wide left of its mark.

Just before halftime, Senna drilled a 22-yard effort wide of the net a minute into stoppage time.

Three minutes into the second half, Fernandes left his mark with his second goal of the season. Walter Restrepo fed the former Stony Brook University standout as Fernandes slotted the ball home from 9 yards for a 2-0 lead.

On loan from the Philadelphia Union (Major League Soccer), Fernandes has been one of the team's revelations this season, scoring in the 1-0 season-opening victory at Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago and playing well in general.

"I would have to say it is not so surprising," Savarese said of Fernandes' strong play. "He is an excellent player. He's a player who's developing . . . He has so much talent. He is showing it every single [game]. He plays with fun and he's eager to learn and to become better."

Notes & quotes: Raul said a hamstring has been bothering him. "To be honest, Thursday, I thought it was impossible to play today," he said . . . Former Cosmos great Franz Beckenbauer was supposed to attend the home opener, but had to fly back to his native Germany for an emergency with his club, Bayern Munich.


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