You couldn’t have written a better ending than a Marcos Senna golazo in the 50th minute as the New York Cosmos defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0 in the 2013 NASL Soccer Bowl.
It was certainly fitting, considering the Cosmos tradition of employing international superstars. No, Senna is not Pelé or even Beckenbauer, but it can be argued that the former Spanish international and Villarreal CF legend is the top player in America outside of MLS.
“It’s an exciting day for sure, the New York Cosmos are back,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese. “I’m very proud of the players because they accomplished great things. Tonight, winning a championship and bringing a championship back to New York is a proud moment for us.”
The Silverbacks were a constant threat in the first half, having a strong home crowd to give their side loads of support. The Cosmos supporters also traveled in number, coming down to Atlanta on several coaches. The away supporters employed smoke, flares, drums, streamers, and even fireworks to show they cared about their beloved Cosmos, providing them with a clear mental boost.
The first half was physical, at times chippy, but there was nothing on the scoreboard at the half. The Cosmos had the better 2nd half, starting with the quick goal from Senna that was set up by the continued brilliance of Ayoze.
The crowd never let up even though the home fans had to know going a goal down to the Cosmos was not a good thing. The Silverbacks continued to battle against a very good New York team.
Overall it was a night of great goalkeeping and one great goal. Atlanta keeper Joe Nasco was simply electric, making one great save after another. He kept his team in the match until the final whistle.
His counterpart, 2013 NASL Golden Glove winner Kyle Reynish, got the job done when called upon, but he was far less active thanks to a staunch defense led by former Crew and Red Bull defender Carlos Mendes.
“We didn’t really know each other, and then coming together and winning a championship, that’s what it’s all about,” said Mendes. “For us, this is what you play for. Hopefully we’ll write a new future now and continue to win championships.”
The game proved to be a showcase for the league as a whole and was truly a marketing dream come true. The league office had to be drooling over having a Cosmos team in the final and the match did set a new attendance record for the NASL Soccer Bowl since the NASL returned in 2011. Keep in mind the Cosmos could very well be even more dominant next season when they actually play a full season.
The storyline was great for writers and fans alike. One of the world’s most renowned brands taking on the Atlanta Silverbacks, a team full of interesting back stories. Silverbacks Technical Director Eric Wynalda often talked of players discovered parking cars at a hotel, driving limousines, or playing shoeless at a local park. Simply put, the Silverbacks had a mountain to climb, playing the giant role of the underdog.
Yes, many talked about a David and Goliath theme for the game, but that tends to be overplayed and gets old really quick. Especially, when Goliath is a very likeable and friendly character like the players of the Cosmos.
The happiest moment of the match was the raising of the trophy for the Cosmos, a team that almost disappeared from soccer entirely. One man, former owner Peppe Pinton, kept the team and the dream alive, waiting for a day and a game like this.
“I have accomplished what I set forth to do a quarter century ago, to put the Cosmos back on the playing field,” Pinton concluded. “The only sadness is that Giorgio (Chinaglia) is not here to witness it.”
The legendary Lazio striker would have been very proud to see this indeed. It was a special game on a special night, an occasion that was so many years in the making.