Despite playing with only 10 men after the 59th minute, Miami FC edged the New York Cosmos 2-1 on Saturday night in front of 6,219 fans at FIU’s Riccardo Silva Stadium.
First-place Miami FC extended its unbeaten streak to 13 matches in all competitions, now has 30 points in NASL and eliminated the Cosmos (20 points) from NASL title contention. Miami FC closed in on the Spring season championship but didn’t clinch with second-place San Francisco (23 points) winning 1-0 at Edmonton late Saturday night.
Miami FC can clinch the title with a victory at North Carolina on July 4 or if San Francisco loses to Puerto Rico on July 2.
Six minutes into Saturday’s match, Emmanuel Ledesma took advantage of a mistake by Miami FC and gave the Cosmos a 1-0 lead with a shot inside the area that got by goalie Daniel Vega.
But Stefano Pinho tied it at 1-1 in the 20th minute. The ball hit a Cosmos defender and got past goalkeeper Jimmy Mauer.
Vincenzo Rennella put the home side on top in the 47th minute, taking advantage of a cross from Richie Ryan.
Miami FC finished with 10 men after the ejection of Kwadwo Poku, who received the direct red card from referee Timothy Ford for kicking Jimmy Mulligan in the 59th minute.
The match was physical from the beginning, with the rivalry between the squads and also the match’s high stakes. In the first half alone, the referee called 20 fouls.
The Cosmos needed to win to maintain their hopes for the Spring title.
Miami FC coach Alessandro Nesta played all of his starters, although many thought he was going to use some reserves considering:
▪ Miami FC entered Saturday with a seven-point lead in the standings on the Cosmos and San Francisco.
▪ On Wednesday, Miami FC will play the most important match of its short history when it faces Atlanta United FC of MLS at Riccardo Silva Stadium in the U.S. Open Cup’s Round of 16. Poku will be eligible to play because it’s not a NASL match, but he will have to sit out the team’s next league match at North Carolina on July 4.
After Poku was sent off, Miami defended everything and looked for the opportunity to counterattack. In the 65th minute, Rennella passed to Pinho, who leaked through the defense. But Pinho’s shot went wide.
Nesta took out Rennella and put in Gabriel Farfán in the 76th minute in a clear decision to defend the lead. Miami came up with an orderly defense and got what it wanted: a victory.