After passing first-seeded Miami FC, the New York Cosmos have earned their spot in The Championship final for the third consecutive year.
How They Got Here
The San Francisco Deltas were able to clinch the second seed in the leagues playoffs after an impressive first season in the league. The Californian side finished second in both the Spring and Fall seasons, behind Miami FC in each. In their semi-final game, the Deltas hosted North Carolina FC at Kezar Stadium. San Francisco scored the game’s lone goal in the 40th minute courtesy of Tyler Gibson. A throw-in that was cleared away dribbled outside of the box, only to be met by the foot of Tyler Gibson who fired into the top right of the goal. The Deltas held onto their lead for the remainder of the game and earned their spot in The Championship Final.
The visitors on Sunday, the New York Cosmos, earned their spot by upsetting the first-seeded Miami FC. First, they earned their playoff spot on the final match-week, beating Puerto Rico FC and clinching the fourth and final seed. In their semi-final game, away to Miami FC, the boys in green played 120 scoreless minutes with the Floridian side, forcing a penalty shootout. After going back and fourth, the Cosmos came out on top, getting past the hosts 6-5.
Head to Head This Season
New York and San Francisco have faced each other four times this NASL campaign, two in the fall season and two in the spring. The first meeting between the two clubs took place in San Francisco at the end of April. An outstanding chipped goal lifted the Cosmos to a 1-0 victory in California.
Just under a month later, the Deltas visited MCU Park for the first time. Neither side was able to get past the other, splitting the points with a scoreless draw.
It wasn’t until early August when they faced for the third time, back in San Francisco. Although the Cosmos were able to find the back of the net courtesy of Pablo Vranjicán, the hosts responded with two goals of their own prior to halftime. Thanks to Patrick Hopkins and Tommy Heinemann, the Deltas were able to earn their first victory over the reigning NASL champions.
Back in New York for the fourth game, both teams settled for a point once again. The hosts took a two goal lead courtesy of Juan Guerra and Pablo Vranjicán. Second-Half substitute, Devon Sandavol, scored twice prior to the game’s final whistle, helping his ten man team walk away with a draw.
“I’ve had some success against them in the past so, it helps but we’re also working hard and getting everything as a team to be ready as possible for this game”
“Top to bottom, San Francisco is a tough team. It’s going to take a huge effort again to try and get a result and win another championship.”
“The Deltas are a very difficult team. The coach is smart, they have very fast players, and their defense is really good too. It’s not going to be easy.”
“They’re going to sit back, but they have fast guys in the attack that can get forward if we lose the ball. They’re also going to work hard for 90 minutes plus, and they’re a gritty team that likes to fight the whole game.”
With the season coming to a close the NASL awards have begun being given out. These two sides were recipients of these accolades, including Deltas head coach, Marc Dos Santos. The skipper was awarded NASL Coach of the Year for 2017 after an impressive campaign with the new team. Dos Santos lead the expansion side to a second place finish in the combined standings in their first season, and has a chance to win it all on Sunday. The head coach credited his team for his achievement saying, “this group has been focused not just at the end of the year, but since day one. The way we’ve prepared helps us achieve that. We’ve been focused from the get-go and it has set us up for the playoffs.”
Each side also had a representative in the NASL Best XI for the 2017 season. Emmanuel Ledesma was included for the Cosmos after his impressive debut campaign for his side. In his 19 appearances for the boys in green, Ledesma lead the team in goals with ten, contributing six assists as well.
Deltas defender, Reiner Ferreira, was also rewarded for his great season. The Brazilian started 31 of the Deltas 34 regular season games where he leaded the league in interceptions, tallying 84. Ferreira has played consistently well for San Francisco, earning four Team of the Week honors along the way.
After fifteen years in the game of professional soccer, Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes is set to hang his boots up following Sundays game. The defender has spent his last five years with the Cosmos, leading the side to three NASL titles. Mendes has been rewarded by the league for his exceptional performances, being included in the Best XI for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons. In his final game, Mendes seeks to lift his fourth NASL Soccer Bowl but will have to get past the Deltas to do so.
Where to Watch
Th Championship final will be nationally televised on BeIN Sports. Kick-off will be at 8pm eastern time and will be prefaced by a half-hour preview special.