Monday, April 24, 2017

Jacksonville Armada 1 at New York Cosmos 1 (NASL) - April 22, 2017

As I've detailed previously, the NASL is no longer the sole second-tier league in the US soccer pyramid, with the USL having joined them. To make matters worse, several NASL teams have moved to the USL, which now has 30 clubs compared to just 8 in the NASL. One of those teams that has remained is the New York Cosmos, who have won three championships in their four-year history. The Cosmos, named after the original NASL team that featured Pelé back in the late 1970s, played on Long Island for their first three seasons, but have now moved to MCU Park, next to Coney Island, for this year. MCU Park is also home to the NY-Penn League's Brooklyn Cyclones, so like NYCFC, the Cosmos are playing soccer in a baseball stadium.

In order to add this venue to my count (now at 719), I headed out to Coney Island on a wet Saturday evening to see the Cosmos hosting the Jacksonville Armada. The parachute jump was lit up for the occasion.

I got a ticket out front from someone with an extra and made my way to the first base side, where an awning protects you from the rain. I stood here for most of the game.

The view is below. As you might expect, a soccer field does not fit very well in a baseball stadium and so there are no seats that are close to midfield.

The Cosmos were purchased by Mediacom owner Rocco Commisso, and I happened to be standing near him before the game. Several fans stopped by to thank him for saving the team, which was in danger of folding. I hope the team does well in their new home, and there was an announced crowd of 3,600 which isn't bad, considering the Red Bulls USL team drew about 700 when I went.

Jacksonville came in with two 1-0 victories and a 0-0 draw in their first 3 matches, while New York had 1 win and 2 losses to their name. The Cosmos ended the Armada shutout streak in the 22nd minute when former La Liga player Javi Marquez slotted home from the top of the 6-yard box. The Armada tied things in the 76th minute when J.C. Banks, a first-round pick by Toronto FC back in 2011 (he never signed with the team), scored a beauty from just inside the penalty area. That was it for goals as the teams each grabbed a point in the 1-1 draw.


Having seen Orlando City B at NY Red Bulls II the week previous, and then Orlando City at NYCFC on the Sunday following this game, I completed the Florida trifecta, seeing a different visiting team from that state in each of the pro leagues.

It will be interesting to see if the two leagues eventually merge, or possibly even adopt a promotion/relegation scenario with one league calling itself the third tier. The MLS will never allow for relegation, but at a lower level, it would be quite interesting.

Next Up

The Jays are off to a bad start,  but I'm hoping for things to turn around next week as I continue my Toronto on the Road quest. This week, they visit St. Louis, another underachieving team, for a three-game set. I'll also revisit Jackson, Mississippi to complete the Southern League after a rainout last year, along with a return to Memphis for some PCL action. Check back for updates as I begin the summer sports travel season!



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