Raul still has some magic left.
The former Spanish international striker demonstrated his class and spared the Cosmos a scoreless tie and a rather disappointing result against the expansion Jacksonville Armada on Saturday night.
The 38-year-old Raul struck for the lone goal of the match in the Cosmos' 1-0 victory before 5,089 rain-soaked fans at Shuart Stadium.
The hosts played the final 38 minutes with a man advantage after defender Lucas Trejo was red-carded for a high kick on Cosmos striker Lucky Mkosana in the 52nd minute. "It was a nice goal," Raul said. "Most important it was a victory or the team. Today was a difficult game."
The Cosmos (11-2-9, 42 points) extended their home unbeaten streak to 17 games (13-0-4) over two seasons and increased their lead in the overall NASL standings to six points over the Ottawa Fury (9-4-9, 36). The overall points leader will earn home-field advantage in the November playoffs.
"I have to be honest. I felt we were going to find a way to win the game," coach Giovanni Savarese said. "We had to be calm and that special moment came from Raul.
"Today he put something extra."
The rain certainly did not help matters for either side as scoring opportunities were scarce.
The Cosmos looked out of synch at times as crosses and passes were a little too early or a little late.
"The ball was so fast today," Raul said. "It was difficult for me . . . The ball was impossible to control."
Raul, however, controlled it when he had to in the 74th minute. Midfielder Walter Restrepo, a menace on the right flank all night, sent a cross to Raul, who trapped the ball and drilled a 12-yard shot past goalkeeper David Sierra for his sixth goal of the season.
"The assist was very amazing," said Raul, who admitted he had some trouble seeing the goal. "I faked [them] twice. I found the space."
Savarese was happy about that. "Raul has brought a lot more than what he showed today," he said. "He has been 100 percent into the club since he arrived . . . Today, he put something extra."