Boston City FC found themselves overwhelmed in a 4-0 home loss to an experienced New York Cosmos side brimming with talent that made a clear signal of intent to compete not only for the National Premier Soccer League title but to also make a serious U.S. Open Cup charge.
To be fair to the Lions, they will likely not face such a daunting opponent throughout the regular season. The Cosmos bossed the midfield through two-time MLS Cup winner with the LA Galaxy Rafael Garcia and former U.S. international Danny Szetela. Two-goal Darwin Espinal is a former striker with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and fellow forward Wojciech Wojcik is also a veteran of professional soccer in the USL and NASL.
“Their chemistry is one hundred percent and they were passing and moving it around,” said Boston City defender Marcelo Cunha. “You can tell they have experience and that they’ve had four scrimmages already. It’s our first game and I think that if we put it together, we have a strong team.”
There were bright signs for Boston City as right back Ralph Angrand worked tirelessly to break up a wave of Cosmos attacks and new Dutch keeper Wouter Dronkers prevented the score line from getting out of hand.
“He’s a great keeper and made some great saves that kept us in the game,” added Cunha. “I don’t think any of the goals were his fault.”
In the opening NPSL match for both sides, the Cosmos asserted their dominance within the opening 20 minutes, dictating play and racing to a 2-0 lead, aided by the hosts struggling down the defensive left side early on.
Alejandro Penzini tapped home a simple finish from Joe Sanchez’s low cross following a short corner after only seven minutes to make it 1-0. With 19 minutes played, not long after Isaac Addai had tracked back to deny a clear shooting chance, Aspinal found himself unchallenged in front of goal to head in a high cross from Blejdi Bardic for a 2-0 lead that reflected the Cosmos dominance.
Dronkers spread himself three minutes later to save well from Sanchez on the end of another cross from the Cosmos right that caused problems, before the Lions fought back and created three close chances.
Forward Rigoberto Jimenez robbed keeper Macklin Robinson of possession on the edge of the 18-yard box in the 25th minute and curled a finish towards an open goal that bounced agonizingly off the outside of the post. But for the woodwork, the hosts might have settled and had the basis for a comeback, with Michael Rincon having switched from left back a more familiar right-sided attacking role.
A hopeful penalty claim as Jimenez and Robinson arrived at the same time for a ball through from Rincon was waved away. Then six minutes before the break, Rincon played Rigoberto through again and his first-time finish was deflected just beyond the target for a corner.
The Cosmos rode the storm and after Dronkers had got down low to his left to push away a shot from the probing Bardic, Boston City cruelly fell behind two minutes before halftime. Dronkers was unsighted as skipper Szetela fired home from among a crowd of players to effectively settle the game.
A tactical switch to open the second half saw Haitian forward Coby Handy replace Homero Morais on the left side, and Daniel Monteiro come on for midfielder Avner Alves to play in a central defensive position, which moved Cunha into an advanced midfield role.
But it was the Cosmos who should have added to their lead on the hour mark when Wojcik skied a chance over the bar with the goal again exposed. Ten minutes later Angrand forced Wojcik wide and his finish cannoned back of the post and was cleared behind for a corner. From the set piece, Espinal grabbed his second and New York’s fourth goal.
Captain Gabriel De Souza’s timely tackle denied the Cosmos a fifth goal and Dronkers’ best save of the night, eight minutes from time, left sub Zaire Bartley wondering how he had failed to score.