The Fort Lauderdale Strikers squandered a three-goal lead and are still searching for their first victory over the New York Cosmos.
Sebastian Guenzatti’s goal in second half stoppage time helped the Cosmos salvage a 3-3 tie against the Strikers Saturday night at Lockhart Stadium. Guenzatti received Hunter Freeman’s centering pass and beat Strikers goalkeeper Josh Ford from 10 yards.
“It hurts because we’re up 3-2 – five minutes left of extra time – and we couldn’t finish off the game,” Strikers’ defender Frankie Sanfilippo said. “We wanted this win more than anything. It was going to be our first win against the Cosmos.”
Fort Lauderdale, which ended a string of three matches over a one-week span Saturday night, has two ties and six losses against New York since both teams began play in the new NASL two years ago.
“When you’re up 3-0 you have to fight until the end, this is so unfortunate,” Sanfilippo said. “I know it’s three games in seven days but we’re professionals and we’ve got to be better. The fans and this city deserve it.”
New York (2-3-1, 9 points) began its comeback on Leonardo Fernandes’ successful header off Freeman’s cross in the 62nd minute and Adam Moffat’s successful 30-yard strike four minutes later.
Before the Cosmos responded with their second half scoring blitz, Walter Ramirez’s second goal in the 58th minute gave the Strikers (1-4-2, 7 points) a seemingly-comfortable three-goal advantage.
Ramirez received a pass from Brazilian midfielder PC, tapped the ball toward the goal area and eluded the New York backline. Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer left the goal area to challenge but Ramirez beat him with an eight-yard strike from the left wing.
“We got careless and you can’t afford that against a team like the Cosmos,” Ramirez said. “For us, this is like a loss. Many players have their heads down right now but we’ve got to keep working hard.”
Fort Lauderdale took a 1-0 lead on Brazilian midfielder Gabriel’s successful penalty kick in the 23rd minute. Former Strikers midfielder Walter Restrepo fouled Ramirez inside the penalty area, resulting in Gabriel’s successful conversion that landed inside the left post.
A second Cosmos foul inside the large area in the 47th minute rewarded the Strikers with another penalty kick attempt following Cosmos defender Ayoze’s foul of PC. Ramirez’s attempt caromed off the left post, Maurer’s backside and rolled into the net.
The Strikers pressured the Cosmos backline during the first half but only capitalized on the penalty kick. Maurer deflected PC’s shot from 20 yards in the sixth minute and Hendry Thomas’ header bounced off the left post a minute later.
Thomas, a veteran of 50 matches with the Honduran national team, joined the Strikers Friday. Thomas’ club career has featured stops with Wigan of the English Premier League and Dallas and Colorado of Major League Soccer.