After clinching the fourth and final spot in the NASL Championship, the New York Cosmos hit the road to take on first seeded, Miami FC.
How They Got Here
Hosts, Miami FC were the first side to earn a spot in the Championship, doing so when they lifted the Spring Season title. The Floridian side showed no mercy in the season’s first half, totaling 36 points in 16 games, 10 points more than the Deltas who finished 2nd. The Spring champions also secured the first seed and home field advantage for the entirety of The Championship as they took home the Fall Season title as well. Although it was a tighter race, Miami finished 5 points ahead of the Deltas, tallying 33 in the final 16 games.
In complete opposite fashion, the New York Cosmos booked their playoff spot in their final match of the season. After finishing third in the Spring season the boys in green needed at least a fourth placed finish in the combined standings to earn post-season soccer. Needing a win at home to Puerto Rico FC, the Cosmos did just that, putting five past the Caribbean side thanks to an Emmanuel Ledesma hat-trick and goals from Carlos Mendes and Lucky Mkosana.
Head to Head This Season
Miami and New York faced in back to back weeks early in the Spring Season, each side hosting a game each. The first, which took place at MCU Park, saw the visitors earn three points with ease. Dylan Mares, Stéfano Pinho and a Ryan Richter own goal all scored in the second half, earned Miami a convincing win in the big apple.
A week later down in Florida saw things go the Cosmos’ way. A Danny Szetela goal in the 58th minute paired with a stoppage time penalty from Ayoze saw the boys in green earn their first win of the 2017 campaign.
Late June is when these two clubs battled for the third time, once again down in Miami. Things were looking bright for the visitors, taking a 6th minute lead courtesy of Emmanuel Ledesma, however the hosts responded twice, winning the game 2-1.
The opening game of the Fall Season saw the Cosmos host Miami for the second time in 2017. Unlike the first game in Brooklyn, the boys in green had their way. An Eric Calvillo brace along with a third from Kobi Moyal helped the Cosmos get past the Spring season champions, who scored only once.
The fifth and most exciting game between the two sides took place at Riccardo Silva Stadium in early September. Bljedi Bardic opened the games scoring with his first goal for the Cosmos in the 10th minute. Miami forward, Jamie Chávez replied with two goals, one in the 44th minute and the other in the 63rd. The visitors fought back and equalized courtesy of Pablo Vranjicán, only to see Chávez complete his hat-trick in the 90th minute. Just when it looked like the boys in green were down and out, midfielder Javi Márquez found the back of the net in the second minute of stoppage time, earning his side a point.
The New York Cosmos enter Sunday’s game coming off an impressive seven point run in their last three matches. A pair of victories over Puerto Rico FC along with a draw in Jacksonville saw the Brooklyn boys score thirteen goals in just three games.
Just like their upcoming opponents, Miami FC have also tallied seven points in their last three games. The Fall Season champions settled for a point when they traveled to take on the San Francisco Deltas, but bounced back with two straight victories over FC Edmonton, 2-0 and 2-1 respectively.
Who to Watch
Miami FC have been by far the best team offensively in the NASL, finishing the campaign with a staggering goal difference of 33. This feat couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of forward, Stéfano Pinho. The Brazilian leads the NASL in goals for the season, putting seventeen past opposing goalkeepers.
Forward, Jamie Chávez is also someone who has shown their offensive abilities this campaign. The 30 year-old leads the league in assists, contributing nine on the year. In addition, Chávez has found the back of the net ten times this season, three of them scored against the New York Cosmos.
Midfielder, Kwadwo Poku, is also a realistic threat to the Cosmos on Sunday as the Ghanaian comes into this game with some form. The former NYCFC man scored twice in Miami’s 2-1 win on the final match-day win over FC Edmonton. Poku has tallied seven goals on the year, one of which was against the boys in green.
New York Cosmos
Hat-trick hero, Emmanuel Ledesma, is one who is likely to contribute for the Cosmos this weekend. The 29 year-old is coming off of his best game for the reigning NASL champions on Saturday, putting three goals past Puerto Rico FC. Ledesma is the fourth highest goalscorer in the league, finding the back of the net on ten occasions.
After finding two assists against PRFC on Saturday, Andres Flores has the ability to change the result of this semi-final game. Flores earned a spot in the NASL team of the week following his performance, the third time he’s been included this campaign. The El Salvadorian has contributed eight assists this season, the second highest player in that category.
Left-back, Ayoze, is also a crucial piece to the performance of the boys in green. Not only has the Spaniard contributed defensively, helping keep eight clean sheets, but he has also been useful going forward. In his 27 appearances this season, Ayoze has assisted five goals and scored five of his own.
“There’s a lot of teams that play very good, that have very good players. It all comes out from the work we put in everyday, in every training. Trying to win another championship would be awesome for us.”
“Catching the right form, getting into the playoffs, once you’ve been there before you know what the expectation is.”
“If you’ve won it before, you wanna keep winning it and showing people that we’re the best team”
How to Watch
BeIN Sports is the exclusive home for the NASL Championship this season, so both semi-final matches as well as the championship game will be on that network. Both, Miami FC vs the New York Cosmos and the San Francisco Deltas vs North Carolina FC will be on all of beIN’s platforms, beIN SPORTS (TV) beIN SPORTS en Español (TV) and beIN SPORTS CONNECT (Digital). Kick-off is at 5pm on Sunday November 5th, at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, Florida.