ROWDIES AND COSMOS DRAW 2-2 AFTER LATE FRIMPONG EQUALIZER
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies and New York Cosmos played to an entertaining 2-2 draw at James M. Shuart Stadium on Saturday night. Rowdies midfielder Evans Frimpong scored a brace, including a 90th minute equalizer that made it 2-2.
Tampa Bay midfielder Evans Frimpong gave the Rowdies a lead in the 25th minute, but it was very short-lived. Two minutes later, Hagop Chirishian capitalized on a Rowdies defensive mistake to pull the Cosmos level.
Midfielder Darel Russell delivered a free kick from far out in the right channel, but the diminutive Frimpong outleaped New York goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer to head it into the net and give the Rowdies a 1-0 lead. It was Frimpong’s first goal of the season.
"I was delighted with the start of the game in terms of taking the sting out of the game and making it difficult for the Cosmos, frustrating them slightly," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "We had the bonus of Evans getting in and scoring a big header to put us 1-nil up."
Chirishian was the beneficiary of a failed pass in the Rowdies’ defensive ranks in the 27th minute, racing onto the ball and running to the endline before finding space to shoot between Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens and his near post to score for New York.
"We shot ourselves in the foot to a degree," Hill said. "We had a chance to clear, we didn't clear and it ended up in the back of our net. Credit to the guys for regrouping and ensuring we wouldn't score again for the remainder of the half."
The Cosmos could have easily taken a lead in the 43rd minute, but forward Danny Mwanga missed a tap-in from close range.
The second half got off to a quick start as midfielder Marcos Senna gave the Cosmos the lead off a perfectly executed free kick. Goalkeeper Matt Pickens dove left in search of getting a touch on the shot but there was nothing he could do.
"When Marcos Senna is on the pitch, you always know that he's capable of doing what he's done tonight and what he did to us last year (with a similar goal,)" Hill said.
Minutes later, the Rowdies would have a chance of their own with a Shriver header but goalkeeper Maurer was quick to get to the ball and avoid the equalizer. It was the Cosmos who nearly doubled their lead in the 62nd minute, when Stokkelien redirected a cross from the right flank. His touch went off the far post and traveled across the goalline until Rowdies defender Jordan Gafa cleared it out of the box.
The match became very physical as the play continued but it would be the Rowdies who created several chances in the final minutes of play. Second-half substitute Lucky Mkosana had two chances in the span of one minute, starting with a shot just inside the 18-yard box that was saved by Maurer. On the ensuing corner kick, the Zimbabwe native had yet another shot, this time it went over the bar and out for a goal kick.
"We had a gameplan to gradually introduce new, more offensive players as the game went on to see if we could get a goal back," Hill said. "Once again, through the efforts of all the guys sticking at it and believing we may be able to force an equalizer, we had good situations."
Seconds after the fourth official signaled four minutes of added time, Frimpong found his second goal of the match, capitalizing on a Maurer error. The Cosmos goalkeeper was able to clear the initial cross but the ball immediately was sent back into the heart of the box. Maurer misplayed the bouncing ball and Frimpong was their to prounce on the rebound and equalize it for the visiting team.
Rowdies: Evans Frimpong - 25th minute (assisted by Darel Russell)
New York: Hagop Chirishian - 27th minute (assisted by Sebastian Guenzatti)
New York: Marcos Senna - 49th minute
Rowdies: Evans Frimpong - 90th minute
Cosmos: Maurer; Mulligan, Freeman, Gorskie, Ayoze; Senna, Nane (Murphy 85'); Guenzatti, Denissen, Chirishian (Diaz 67'); Mwanga (Stokkelien 46')
Rowdies: Pickens; Gafa, Sanfilippo (c), Clinton, Wallace; Frimpong, Russell, Savage (Townsend 83'), Wagner (Mkosana 77'); Shriver, Olguin (Hertzog 69')