For the first time in 29 years, the New York Cosmos returned to the pitch on Aug. 3, and in thrilling fashion, captured a 2-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in front of a sellout crowd at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium.
Alessandro Noselli’s goal in stoppage time broke a 1-1 tie to send 11,929 fans home happy, and earned the Cosmos their first win of the season. Noselli deflected a ball out of mid-air with his right foot and found a window in between Strikers’ goalkeeper Richard Sanchez’s legs.
“[It was] definitely a dramatic win, a difficult one,” said Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese, “but definitely a good one at the end of the day.” The Cosmos moved to 1-0-0 after the victory while the Strikers fell to 0-1-0 in the North American Soccer League standings.
Noselli’s goal capped off a night in which the Cosmos honored some of their former stars, including Pelé, Carlos Alberto and the late Giorgio Chinaglia. The Cosmos won four Soccer Bowl championships from 1977 to 1982 and played in front of some of the largest soccer crowds in U.S. soccer history. “We’re thrilled with the return of the Cosmos,” Alberto said. “And if not this year, very soon we’re going to have the same kind of team that we had before.”
The Cosmos first goal came in the 44th minute when forward Peri Maroševi corralled a loose ball off a corner kick and fired a shot with his left foot into an open net. Sanchez dove as the ball crossed in front of him but Maroševi beat him to it to give the Cosmos a 1-0 lead.
The Strikers knotted things at 1-1 on a Walter Restrepo goal in the 73rd minute. The Fort Lauderdale forward headed a contested ball from about 15 feet out as Cosmos goalkeeper Kyle Reynish unsuccessfully left the net to disrupt him.
“We’ll continue to work and continue to improve and we know that this league is a challenging league,” said Cosmos captain and Mineola native Carlos Mendes. “There’s a lot of good teams and we need to prepare.”
Mendes added that the enthusiastic crowd played a part in the win. ”You could feel the energy,” he said of the stadium. "I think as players that definitely I guess gives you that extra push. It was an incredible crowd.”
Former Cosmos goalkeeper Shep Messing, who joined the club in 1973, was happy with what he saw from the new-age team. “I wish we had a crowd like this my first game for the Cosmos,” he said. “But it will be one step at a time to reach, hopefully, the heights that we had before.”
Saverese said the win was a step in the right direction, as the Cosmos will head to Tampa Bay for a Saturday night match against the Rowdies. The team will return to Hofstra on Aug. 24 to square off against the San Antonio Scorpions.