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Raul, Senna turn back the clock to lead Cosmos to NASL final

Cosmos vs Striker 11-7-150525

BROOKLYN – Facing the prospect of ending their illustrious careers on the field of MCU Park, Raul and Marcos Senna turned back the clock to send the New York Cosmos to the NASL’s final game.

Raul netted the game-winning goal while Senna set-up the game’s equalizer, leading the Cosmos to 2-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers Saturday at Brooklyn’s MCU Park. With the win, the Cosmos advance to the NASL’s finale, where they will take on either Ottawa Fury FC or Minnesota United.

Set to retire at the end of the season, the pair of Spanish legends were able to prolong their career one more game. Senna was quick to point to the play of Raul, who motored through the Strikers defense to provide the winner. Meanwhile, Senna’s own contribution played a crucial part in the equalizer, as Gaston Cellerino pounced on a rebound from a Senna free kick.

“Raul was fantastic,” Senna said. “Once again he was able to help us with his quality and experience, and that matters a lot. Truthfully, the team did a good job, too, and I thank all my teammates for the concentration and desire from start to finish.”

“Moments of magic like Raul’s touch for that second goal, it was ridiculous,” said goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. “We get to see it everyday in training, but you can tell that they were going to do whatever it took to win today.”

Giovanni Savarese insisted it was just more of the same from the two stars. Throughout the entire season, Savarese says, both Senna and Raul have put in maximum effort. That effort has finally paid off as the two have become healthy heading into the postseason.

Maurer and Savarese, meanwhile, pointed to the duo’s hustle late in the game, as the 38-year-old forward and 39-year-old midfielder continued to chase down and harass all the way until the final whistle.

“Marcos, it could have been his last game,” said midfielder Danny Szetala, who assisted Raul on the game-winner. “He was out there and running around like he was 20 years younger. I might have to tell him to stay another year. It felt good out there. The chemistry was there and I’m excited to play in the final with him.

“(Raul), too. I might have to talk him into not retiring either. These guys today, it could be their last game and they’re playing like they’re 20 years old. Raul had a great game.”

Szetala went on to state how important both Raul and Senna have been to his game, crediting them with helping him develop a bit of composure and confidence.

That confidence will be a major factor heading into next Sunday’s finale, one the Cosmos know will be as important as any game they’ve played for a variety of reasons.

The Cosmos insist that, at the end of the day, Sunday’s finale is about a lot more than sending Raul and Senna into the sunset with a trophy in hand. With the chance to claim a title, the finale will still be about the club and achieving something that the entire team can share in together.

Still, the thought of seeing the Spanish legends retire on a high remains a motivating factor as the two put on their respective uniforms for the final time.

“I have mixed feelings,” Senna said. “One is because I’m very happy to have helped to reach another final with the Cosmos and the other is sadness because I only have one more chance to play with my teammates.

“For me, it’s a privilege to be able to play until 39-years old and to finish alongside a legend in Raul is another privilege. I’m going to leave very satisfied.”

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