By Jerry Del Priore
It’s fair to say that most athletes want to finish their careers on top. Soccer legends Raúl and Marcos Senna, who will both retire after this season, are no different.
After defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-1, at Brooklyn’s MCU Park Saturday in the North American Soccer League (NASL) Semifinals, the Spanish legends will get one more chance to go out with a bang.
Next Sunday, October 15th at 5:00 p.m, the New York Cosmos (10-6-4) will host the winner of tomorrow’s semifinal match between the Ottawa Fury FC and Minnesota United FC in the NASL Championship at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium.
Asked if the team thought about the second half being the last forty five minutes in the duo’s storied careers, Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said, “Never. Because we have no time to think about those things. We have to correct, we have to make sure we fix some things that we felt in the first half we could have done better. At no point did we think that.”
The Strikers (8-6-6) opened up the scoring after midfielder PC received the pass at the corner of the penalty area and finished low and left, shooting the ball by goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer for a 1-0 lead at 15:23 mark.
Maurer kept the game close for the Cosmos when he made a nice, diving save at 31:01 mark of the first half.
New York stayed within striking distance, and waited for its opportunity. It came when Fort Lauderdale netminder David Meves saved midfielder Marcos Antonio Senna da Silvia’s free kick but the deflection dropped to attacker Gaston Cellerino, who banged it home for the equalizer at 36:26 point of the contest.
New York came out aggressive in the second half, putting the pressure on the Strikers’ defensive, but came up empty.
The Cosmos wouldn’t be denied, however. Midfielder Daniel Szetela found attacker Raúl open in the middle of the box, where he proceeded to direct it into the lower left corner of the net for the 2-1 advantage at the 61st minute of the game. The game-winning tally was Raúl’s ninth goal of the season, a team-best.
With the Cosmos applying the offensive heat on the Strikers, Meves responded by making a picturesque, sparkling save to his right at the 81st minute mark of the match to keep it a one score tilt.
But New York kept the offensive pressure on the rest of the way while the defense clamped down for the victory.