RECAP: Miami FC Falls to Cosmos in NASL Championship Semifinal on Penalties

Nov 5, 2017

MIAMI (November 5, 2017) - The Miami FC took on the New York Cosmos on Sunday evening in the NASL Championship Semifinals, falling to their northern rivals 6-5 in a penalty shootout after 120 minutes of scoreless play. 

The Orange and Blue got their offense started early, spraying the ball around the field comfortably. Right back Hunter Freeman created the first true scoring chance of the match in the 11th minute, sprinting down the right wing and unleashing an on-point cross that was met in the box by forward Vincenzo Rennella but headed just wide of the goal.

Three minutes later, Rennella was on the other end of a created chance, setting up Stéfano Pinho with a one-time cross. Pinho was open about eight yards from the goal and struck a volley nearly perfectly, but the ball flew inches high of the crossbar.

Miami had the lion's share of offensive scoring opportunities in the first half, dominating possession by 17.4 percentage points and creating five scoring chances to go along with five shots inside the box.

The match went into halftime tightly locked at 0-0. 

Miami began the second half with some flair with Jaime Chávez showing off his skills with a rabona through ball that ended up in Rennella's path close to the goal. Rennella's shot trickled centimeters wide of the goal post and went out for a goal kick.

Freeman got loose down the right flank for the second time in the match in the 73rd minute, uncorking another stellar cross and finding Pinho alone on the left side of the box. Pinho brought the ball down and took a powerful shot that was miraculously kept out by Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer.

Despite several chances once again in the half for Miami, its final touch was slightly lacking and the match would go 90 minutes without a socre on either side.

As both teams began to tire out from constant pressure throughout the match, the match became a contested affair in extra time. 

The Cosmos got the first crack at goal in the 98th minute on a Eugene Starikov left-footed missile that clanked off the right post and bounced to safety for Miami. The Orange and Blue followed that chance up with one of its own, when Pinho lofted a through ball over the defense and into left back Blake Smith's path. Smith cut the ball back to his right foot in the box, but his shot was luckily saved by Maurer.

After 120 minutes, no team could convert any of their shots and the match went into the penalty shootout tied at 0-0.

Going into the final penalty shot in the fifth round, Miami goalkeeper Daniel Vega came up with a massive save by correctly staying in the middle of the goal to catch an ambitious panenka penalty by Juan Guerra. 

Unfortunately, Miami missed its seventh penalty of the shootout and Cosmos striker Euguene Starikov buried his to catapult New York into the NASL Championship Final.

The Miami FC's historic, record-breaking season has come to an end, but the 2018 season is just a few short months away!

Quick Hits

Starting Xl
GK - Vega
DEF - Freeman, Bernstein, Trafford, Smith
MID – Lahoud (c), Ryan (119' - Michel), Mares (81' - Martínez)
FWD – Pinho, Chávez, Rennella (71' - Poku)

Goals
Penalty Shootout
Ayoze (NYC) | 1-0
Poku (MIA) | 1-1
Szetela (NYC) | 2-1
Martínez (MIA) | 2-2
Calvillo (NYC) | 3-2
Chávez (MIA) | 3-3
Vranjicán (NYC) | 4-3
Pinho (MIA) | 4-4
Freeman (MIA) | 4-5
Mkosana (NYC) | 5-5
Starikov (NYC) 6-5

Bookings
24' - Calvillo (NYC) | Yellow Card
56' - Mares (MIA) | Yellow Card
65' - Ledesma (NYC) | Yellow Card
67' - Mendes (NYC) | Yellow Card
102' - Szetela (NYC) | Yellow card

Stats
Possession: 54.1%
Shots: 12
Passes: 630
Pass Accuracy: 87.9%
Clearances: 26
Tackles: 13