By DAN KARELL
Even with a different starting eleven, the New York Cosmos continue to win.
In a prelude to next week’s North American Soccer League Soccer Bowl match in Atlanta, a weakened Cosmos side defeated the Silverbacks, 1-0, at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. Cosmos forward Henry Lopez scored his second goal of the season as his team finished the 2013 NASL Fall Season with an 11-game unbeaten run.
Cosmos assistant coach Carlos Llamosa gave his starters from the week prior in San Antonio the weekend off, while giving starting debuts to multiple players including newly signed defender Jimmy Nealis, goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, midfielder Edison Bilbao, and substitute debuts to David Diosa and Jemal Johnson.
During a first half where neither side could develop many chances on target, Lopez took advantage of maybe the only opportunity of the game. In the 34th minute, Joseph Nane spread the ball out wide to right back Korey Veeder. Veeder’s first touch controlled the pass and then he sent a curling cross into the box. Lopez did very well to take the ball down with his first touch and then on the second, volleyed home to give the Cosmos the lead.
The Cosmos attempted to add to their lead with positive substitutions in the second half, giving Johnson his first minutes of the season after he suffered a serious knee injury during preseason and bringing on regular starter Paulo Mendes late to look for an insurance goal. Alas, for either side, more goals weren’t on the menu as the game finished with a 1-0 scoreline to the Cosmos.
With the win, the Cosmos finish their first season back in professional soccer with a record of 9-4-1 and 31 points from 14 games. The Cosmos meet the Silverbacks next Saturday in the Soccer Bowl, which will decide the 2013 season champion.