Much has been said about how deep the Cosmos roster is this season.
Saturday night they let their actions speak much louder than any words.
Using seven reserve players, the Cosmos recorded a 2-1 victory over 10-man Ottawa Fury FC in their North American Soccer League fall opener at Shuart Stadium.
Two players who combined for 227 minutes during the 10-game spring season turned out to be the goal-scoring heroes before 3,518 spectators.
Forward Lucky Mkosana, who was fouled to set up midfielder Adam Moffat’s penalty kick, added a brilliant goal as the Cosmos (7-4-0, 21 points) put Wednesday’s disappointment of their Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup elimination behind them.
“I believe in every player that we have,” coach Giovanni Savarese said. “They are all starters to me . . . I was glad to see so many guys get so many minutes.”
The Cosmos, who played virtually the entire match with a man advantage because of an Ottawa red card, made seven changes from their starting eleven of their Cup loss to New England. That included goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, who took the blame. Savarese stressed that Maurer’s benching had nothing to do with Wednesday.
His replacement, Brian Holt, was solid in his second game of the season, although Ottawa’s Paulo Junior scored off a rebound of a save a minute into second-half stoppage time to make it interesting.
“He played very well,” Savarese said of Holt. “He not only made good decisions, he especially was very brave. He did a fantastic job.”
The Cosmos scored first after an unusual sequence of events beginning in the fourth minute.
While running down a long ball sent into the box, Mkosana was fouled by goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, who had his studs up on the play. After an assistant referee pointed out the foul, referee Geoff Gamble red carded Peiser and awarded the Cosmos a penalty kick.
“We were very fortunate the linesman saw what we saw from the bench,” Savarese said.
The Fury (2-6-3, 9) was forced to pull forward Dennis Chin and put reserve keeper Marcel DeBellis in the net.
DeBellis guessed correctly on the penalty, but he could not stop Moffat, who drilled his third goal of the season into the lower left side in the ninth minute.
Mkosana, playing confidently all night, finished off a nice play a minute into first-half stoppage time. Defender David Ochieng, in his first start of the season, lofted a long ball down the right side as Mkosana split two defenders. The ball bounced once and the striker volleyed the ball home from close range for his first goal.
“He asked for the chance to step on the field,” Savarese said. “He looked good in practice. He did very well today.”