If the Cosmos fail to win the North American Soccer League fall season or the combined standings title, they might want to look back at Sunday’s 1-1 tie with Rayo OKC at Shuart Stadium.
The Oklahoma-based team was ripe for the picking, after its coach Alen Marcina resigned earlier this week because of an ownership squabble. The visitors did well for themselves, the defending NASL champions not as much in front of 2,871 spectators.
The third-place Cosmos (10-6-2, 32 points, 4-2-2, 14) trail first-place Indy Eleven (9-2-7, 34, 5-2-1, 16) in both tables. Had they won, the Cosmos would have tied Indy atop both standings.
“We’re really disappointed, but at the end of the day, we’re still undefeated at home,” said goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, referring to the Cosmos’ 13-game home unbeaten streak (12-0-1) dating back to last season. “Definitely there were points left out there today.”
Coach Giovanni Savarese warned his team about how dangerous Rayo (6-5-7, 25, 3-1-4, 13) could be, especially given its chaotic week.
“I made it clear that this was the most difficult game we were going to face so far because you never know how they’re going to play,” he said. “But we had a feeling that it was going to be a very difficult match.”
It was, although the hosts made it more difficult on themselves with a sluggish start as Rayo struck in the fourth minute on Georgios Samaras’ conversion of a Billy Forbes’ left-wing feed.
At halftime, Savarese told his team that he wasn’t happy with the opening half.
“He said what we were all thinking, the first half was pretty much a disaster,” Maurer said. “We came out so slowly. At the professional level you come out like that and you’re going to get punished and we did.”
Slowly, but surely the hosts recovered and equalized on Adam Moffat’s 39th-minute penalty kick after Lucky Mkosana was fouled in the box. Goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes guessed correctly, but Moffat drilled his fifth goal of the year into the lower left corner.
“I hit it hard enough to go in,” Moffat said. “It was a pity we couldn’t get that second.”
That’s because the Cosmos either shot at Fernandes or were wide of their target despite dominating the second half.
“We weren’t as ruthless as we typically are,” Moffat said.