Cosmos Finish 2020 Season with Draw to Baltimore Christos

Published Oct 10, 2020
Using one of their youngest lineups in years, the New York Cosmos completed their 2020 season with a 2-2 draw against FC Baltimore Christos in the NISA Independent Cup at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Saturday afternoon.
Darwin Espinal and Isaac Acuna scored for the Cosmos, who completed their National Independent Soccer Association commitments by using many reserve players and trialists.
Jacob Bender and Jamie Merriam tallied for FC Baltimore Christos, who equalized on an 81st-minute penalty kick by the latter player.
Both teams finished with 10 men as the Cosmos defender Pedro Galvao and Christos midfielder Khalid Balogun were red carded deep into second-half stoppage time.
The match was a make-up game from the Independent Cup that was postponed due to severe weather in Leesburg, Va. on Aug. 10.
While the contest was billed as a closed-door match, several fans watched from outside the Cosmos grass training field at the complex. The club's supporters’ group, The 5 Points, also attended, adding atmosphere with its members singing.
Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said he wanted to look at as many players to assess next season’s roster.
Midfielder Leo Guarino, a 17-year-old East Rockaway High School standout, and defender CJ Weinstein made their Cosmos debuts.
The four regulars in the Starting XI included defenders Konrad Plewa and Galvao, midfielder Vincenzo Candela and Acuña. Other Cosmos players on the field at kickoff were goalkeeper Stewart Ceus, defender Armando Guarnera and midfielders Giuseppe Barone and John Denis. Regulars Mattia Cella and Espinal came on as halftime substitutes.
Wolfgang Prentice, a Cal State Northridge midfielder and on trial with the club, also was in the starting lineup. Defender Daniel Field (Rollins College), another trialist, came on as a second-half substitute.
The Cosmos enjoyed the majority of the possession in the opening half but could not solve the Baltimore Christos defense in the early going.
The visitors did, against the run of play in the 12th minute. David Harris penetrated deep in the right-wing corner and sent a cross to Jacob Bender at the far post as the midfielder headed it past Ceus.
Prentice, who received a yellow card in the 11th minute, made his presence felt in a much more positive way in the 42nd minute. He lofted a cross from the left-wing to Acuña. Between two defenders, Acuña headed it home past goalkeeper Brad Benzing for his second goal this year and a 1-1 tie.
Espinal, a halftime sub, tallied in the 66th minute, putting home his own rebound off a FC Baltimore Christos defender past Benzing from close range.
Three minutes later, Acuna had an opportunity to give the Cosmos some breathing room but Benzing saved his 20-yard attempt off a counterattack.
FC Baltimore equalized in the 81st minute after a foul in the box. Merriam converted the penalty kick against halftime sub Gianfranco Barone, drilling his attempt into the upper left corner.
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