By RYAN TOLMICH
In a matchup billed a historic event, the New York Cosmos put on a performance to match the occasion.
Led by a Lucky Mkosana brace, the Cosmos defeated the Cuban national team, 4-1, Tuesday evening in Havana, becoming the first American professional sports team to play in the country in 16 years.
It took just nine minutes for Mkosana to find his first goal of the evening, as the Cosmos took full advantage of some miscommunication from the Cuban backline.
An errant pass from the back was intercepted by Leo Fernandes, who ended up leaving the game with an injury in the 26th minute. After a pass to Raul, the ball found its way to Mkosana at the top of the box, and the Cosmos forward rocketed a shot from just inside the 18-yard markers to give the Cosmos an early lead.
Mkosana’s second tally came just three minutes before halftime, jumping on a cross from Sebastian Guenzatti and smacking a right-footed volley.
Guenzatti himself found a finish in the 33rd minute on a goal that saw Raul once again serve as the focal point.
With the defense’s gazes fixed upon a leaping Raul, the Spanish forward headed a pass straight to Guenzatti, who tapped in for the Cosmos’ third of the day.
The fourth would come just three minutes later from the foot of Hagop Chirishian on a sequence that also featured Hunter Freeman and substitute David Diosa.
It was Freeman who played in the original cross that found Diosa at the backpost. Diosa headed the ball down right to Chirishian for what turned out to be an easy tap-in from close range.
The Cosmos’ lone blemish came in the 51st minute, as Cuba’s Andy Vaquero took advantage of a Cosmos giveaway in the box to give the home fans a consolation goal.
Following the victory, the Cosmos will now have a weekend of rest and could clinch the NASL Spring Season title as soon as Saturday with losses or draws from Minnesota United and the Tampa Bay Rowdies this weekend.