NEW BRITAIN – Saturday was hot, but the New York Cosmos were a little bit hotter.
As the day reached a scorching 98 degrees, the heat was no factor for the New York-based club, which handed Hartford City FC a 2-1 loss in its first visit to the Central Connecticut area since 1976.
Danny Szetela’s go-ahead goal in the 67th minute at CCSU’s soccer field also helped the Cosmos B (9-0-0) secure the top seed in the National Premier Soccer League North Atlantic Conference Playoffs.
“We had a game plan coming in and it worked for the most part,” Hartford City head coach Christian Benjamin said. “We knew that they were going to be technical, we knew that they’re going to move the ball well and we knew that they were going to be dangerous when they had the ball. We went at them like they were any other team. This is the lowest margin victory [the Cosmos] have had yet. This was as much our game as it was their game. It could have gone either way.”
New York proved to be dangerous when they had the ball early as well and used that ability to take an early lead. In the 19th minute, Cosmos forward Darwin Espinal found the bottom corner of the net after a pass from forward Bljedi Bardic.
City (5-3-1) was finally to break through just before halftime when Kieran Simms scored the equalizer at the 43-minute mark. The much-needed goal gave the club not only the momentum, but the belief it could take down the undefeated Cosmos.
“We played well during the first half,” Hartford City midfielder Lamar Chancey said. “I feel like we easily could've won that game. When we tied the game, the score was 0-0, it was a game.”
But City was unable to take advantage of a majority of its opportunities throughout the afternoon and in the second half, became quiet offensively. The club finished with 10 shots on goal, but only Simms’ was able to find the back of the net.
“On any given day we could’ve gotten the point or even the win if the ball fell our way,” Hartford CIty midfielder Luke Albertini said. “The Cosmos are in first place for a reason. They’re a full-on pro team and to even be on the same field as them is a privilege. I think if we get to play them again we’ll give them another run.”
The next time Hartford City and the Cosmos will see each other will be in playoffs. And Benjamin and the rest of his players already can’t wait for a rematch.
“I look forward to the opportunity to play them again because we gave them those two goals that they scored,” Benjamin said. “Those were errors on our side and I know we can fix those during training and have the result go the other way.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org