Leading the NASL table two weeks into the spring season, Miami FC figured it had the perfect setting to please its fans Saturday night.
Miami opened its 2017 home schedule at Riccardo Silva Stadium intent on defeating the defending league champion New York Cosmos a second consecutive week.
Yet, despite an advantage in scoring opportunities, Miami was no match for New York goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. The Cosmos, meanwhile, capitalized on Daniel Szetela’s goal early in the second half and Ayoze’s penalty kick for a 2-0 victory before a crowd of 9,515.
After withstanding Miami’s multiple scoring opportunities in the first half and opening minutes of the second half, the Cosmos broke through with Szetela’s goal in the 58th minute. Ryan Richter’s long pass from the right wing found Szetela deep in the penalty area, where he headed in a shot past Miami goalkeeper Daniel Vega.
The goal was the Cosmos’ first of the season. Miami shut out New York 3-0 in their first match April 1.
The Cosmos (1-1- 1, 4 points) secured the win on Ayoze’s penalty kick conversion in second half stoppage time. Miami defender Hunter Freeman fouled New York’s Walter Restrepo inside the large area, resulting in Ayoze’s blast that landed under the crossbar.
“Obviously, they’re not happy,” Miami head coach Alessandro Nesta said of his players after the match. “They built a lot of opportunities and are playing very good at the beginning of the season.
“We have to continue to believe that we are one of the best teams in this league.”
Miami outshot New York 22-4, including 8-4 on goal. But Maurer’s eight saves and two bounces off the post helped the Cosmos.
“This was the game. We had our chances to win,” Nesta said.
Five minutes before Szetela’s goal, Miami twice had opportunities on consecutive attempts. Maurer deflected Robert Kcira’s shot from 22 yards. Miami’s Poku retrieved the deflection and his shot caromed off the right post.
Maurer also denied Miami (1-1- 1, 4) on consecutive shots in the 19th minute. Maurer deflected Vincenzo Rennella’s attempt from the right wing. Calvin Rezende retrieved the carom and Maurer stopped his 12-yard shot.
Miami had another scoring threat in the 39th minute when Stefano Pinho’s shot outside the 6-yard box bounced off the right post.
Miami will play its second of a three-game homestand Saturday against Carolina.