In a topsy-turvy match, The Miami FC overcame an early deficit then and withstood 35 minutes of playing down a man after a red card was issued to Kwadwo Poku to beat the New York Cosmos 2-1 and come even closer to the NASL spring championship.
It was a dream start for the Cosmos, who got a goal in the sixth minute thanks to intense team pressure and a clever finish by Emmanuel Ledesma. However, the goal seemed to serve as a wake-up call to Miami FC, who began to respond with pressure themselves.
In each matchup between the Cosmos and Miami FC, whichever team scored first went on to win. Miami FC had clear intention to change that fact.
The game was leveled in the 20th minute, when Stéfano Pinho — who had hit the post almost immediately after the Cosmos goal — cashed in on a marvelous finish, attempting a scissor-kick shot that appeared to be going to the left side of the goal frame, but deflected off Dejan Jaković and slipped right inside the right goalpost.
Pinho has now scored five goals in three games, including at least one in each of his last three.
The score would stay 1-1 heading into halftime.
Almost immediately after play resumed in the second half, Miami FC got on the scoreboard again. The NASL’s leading scorer, Vincenzo Rennella, headed home a pinpoint cross from Richie Ryan to give the hosts their first lead of the night. Rennella now has eight goals on the season, two more than his nearest competition, Justin Braun of Indy Eleven and Zach Steinberger of Jacksonville Armada.
The game appeared to turn in the 58th minute, when Poku was given straight red after running through a defender. He swung his arm while running, which the referee might have interpreted as a punch.
The game slowed down after the card, as Miami FC focused first and foremost on defense. The Cosmos had a few chances, particularly one well-directed header in the dying moments of the match that was saved by Mario Daniel Vega.
Miami FC now sit on 30 points. The Cosmos have been eliminated from any possibility of winning the NASL Spring title. The only teams that can now possibly catch Miami FC are Jacksonville Armada, who play on Sunday, and San Francisco Deltas, who Miami FC will play twice to close the spring season. However, a win at North Carolina FC in their next league match on July 4 will render those games moot and clinch the title.
Miami FC’s next match is a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fifth-Round matchup against Atlanta United of MLS. That match will take place at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Wednesday at 7:30 pm.
PHOTO CAPTION: Stéfano Pinho scores the first goal for The Miami FC. CREDIT MIAMI FC