New York Cosmos Win 2016 NASL Championship

After a scoreless 120 minutes of play, the New York Cosmos became the 2016 NASL Champions by defeating Indy Eleven 4-2 in penalty kicks. This is their third Soccer Bowl win in four years of the Modern NASL era and the eighth title in the franchise’s history.

“The guys always felt that they wanted to win a new championship,” Head Coach Giovanni Savarese said. “They didn’t want to defend the last one. I think that hungriness to win a new one showed, from the Fall Season all the way until now.”

It’s fitting that the match ended in a draw, as all six of the nine games between these two clubs ended in the same result. Both teams created a lot of chances, but failed to find the final touch to get a goal. For Indy’s side, goal keeper Jon Busch performed incredibly with four key saves throughout the night.

But the difference came in the penalties. Facing Jimmy Maurer and a raucous Cosmos supporter’s section behind the net, Nicki Patterson converted the first penalty for Indy Eleven. Jairo Arrieta scored the first shot for the Cosmos, hitting off one post and just barely sliding inside the opposite side. Eamon Zayed did not have as much luck, though. His shot followed the same trajectory, hit off one post, bounced to the other, and went out. Adam Moffat stepped up for the Cosmos and sent New York ahead 2-1.

In a strange turn of events, Indy then sent up goal keeper Jon Busch to take a shot, but he sent it over the cross bar. For New York, Ayoze slipped it past Busch and extended their lead. Indy brought out Nemanja Vukovic for the next shot and he kept their chances alive by shooting right past Jimmy Maurer.

Then it came down to Ryan Richter. The defender stepped up to the line and converted the shot, ending the game and winning the Championship Final for his team.

“It was an amazing opportunity,” Richter said. “I think every player dreams of scoring that penalty in the Championship Final.”

“The entire match, we were thinking that we wanted to close this year in the best possible way,” Savarese said. “I’m very proud of the players and the work they put in to win another championship.”

Now with the 2016 NASL season behind them, the New York Cosmos face some tough questions. The team’s time at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium has come to an end, but a new home location has not been confirmed, leaving a lot of fans uncertain about their future. Rumors have linked Head Coach Giovanni Savarese with a move to an MLS club, potentially taking over in Minnesota as that team moves from NASL to MLS. Even the league as a whole is in a precarious position. With Minnesota leaving for MLS, Ottawa and Tampa Bay moving to USL, and Rayo OKC looking like it will fold, the league is set to have just 9 teams next season. Rumors are indicating the USSF may be reconsidering NASL’s division 2 status, and not in the way the league wanted them to. With a bump down to the third tier, the already unstable league could continue to flounder, and where does that leave the Cosmos?

For now, though, New York can celebrate a big win and prepare for a long preseason ahead.

Photo Credit: Scott Interrante