There will be no October baseball in NYC. The Giants are off to their worst start since 1987, and the Jets are having their usual stumbles. But the two NYC-area soccer teams continue their respective runs towards the post-season. The Red Bulls took a well-earned point home from Seattle to stay atop MLS Sunday, while the Cosmos completed a huge comeback to extend their lead in the NASL fall season.
A constant Seattle downpour greeted the Red Bulls, who took on the Seattle Sounders last night (the game was conveniently scheduled for 9 p.m. ET, because it's not like anything else was going on at that time). A crowd of 39,083 fans at CenturyLink Field anticipated the Sounders easily bumping off a Red Bulls side that was missing Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave due to lingering injury concerns that keep them off artificial playing surfaces.
As easy as it would have been for the Red Bulls to sit back and try to absorb Seattle's attack on the road, they didn't—New York largely looked the better side despite being on the road. Seattle would get on the board first when Markus Holgersson was called for a handball in the box just before halftime. It was the ninth penalty NY has conceded this season, and while Luis Robles dove the correct way on the kick, Brad Evans's shot was just out of reach.
The Red Bulls came out of the locker room ready to chase the game in the second half, while Seattle seemed to have switched off. The Red Bulls defense held their shape, shutting down Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson's attacking attempts throughout the half. On the other end of the field, New York had chances but failed to convert many of them, with two shots going off the woodwork and Fabian Espindola's bicycle kick attempt instead hitting a Seattle player in the ribs.
New York would get their equalizer in the 76th minute. A bit of pinball at the top of Seattle's box allowed Jonny Steele to lay the ball off to Tim Cahill, who put a beautiful one-time shot past Michael Gspurning at the far post, stunning the Seattle crowd. Cahill's ninth goal of the season was enough to give the Red Bulls the draw, and move them four points clear of Kansas City atop the Eastern Conference. They still lead Seattle in the Supporters' Shield race by a single point.
Despite spending most of the night getting rained on, RBNY coach Mike Petke was beaming after the match. “I’m extremely proud of my guys. Not only to get a result here, but to play very good and to put pressure all over a phenomenal team like Seattle. And to have many scoring opportunities—and they had some as well. To come in and not be intimidated by this crowd and with the recent form of Seattle and in a very stressful environment - I’m very proud of them.”
A win or a draw Saturday at home against New England will allow Petke's side to clinch the first of five Eastern Conference playoff spots and keep their campaign alive into November.
At Hofstra, the "Cardiac Cosmos" completed yet another second half miracle of their own, scoring three unanswered goals to edge the Tampa Bay Rowdies 4-3.
Heading into the locker room down 3-1 against their old rivals, things looked pretty bleak. But a stunning run in the second half saw the Cosmos turn the game around, starting with a Paulo Mendes goal in the 63rd minute to pull the margin back to one. The Cosmos leveled the match in the 80th minute on a nice run from Diomar Diaz, who earned his team-leading fourth goal of the season. Two minutes later, Marcos Senna would perfectly place a free kick to complete the comeback.
With five games left in the NASL fall season, the Cosmos find themselves four points clear atop the table. They travel to 4th place Minnesota United FC next weekend to try and climb even higher in their "reboot" season and started increasing their odds of heading to Atlanta for the 2013 Soccer Bowl.