Saunders Assist Leads Cosmos to Victory
Playing before a record crowd of six fans – one of whom simply wandered in, mistaking the stadium for a Bingo parlor – the Cosmos racked up its second consecutive victory over the Net.commers, who came to town eager to avenge their home loss to the Cosmos one year ago (see Light Reading 10 (11?) Net.com 8 (9?)).
Though that contest was hardly free from dispute (including the questionable final score), the closely fought rematch provided even more fodder for controversy.
The winning goal came in sudden-death overtime on a penalty kick from the mysterious Rolando (or was it Ronaldo?) – a last-minute addition to Light Reading's roster who was discovered loitering in the parking lot. The penalty came after three Net.com defenders mauled Roberto in the middle of the box, but the call was disputed by Net.com, which claimed the ball was no longer playable when Reinaldo was fouled.
Bert Whyte's acolytes also accused Rodolfo of being a "ringer." Randolfo scored not only the sudden-death penalty shot, but also the Cosmos's two regulation goals. Rodrigo was unavailable at press time to answer these allegations.
Both Net.com goals were scored by Paul MacMillan, while forward Gary "The Giant Scotsman" Mills – who shredded Light Reading for seven goals last May in California – was shut down by a smothering Cosmos defense, led by Tom Vanderbilt and Peter Hall.
"Their threatening forward Gary really wasn't a factor. It looked like he decided to wear his floppy banana boots today," said Stephen Saunders, CEO of Light Reading and allegedly a "forward" for the Cosmos.
At one point, the Cosmos defense sent Mills tumbling on his head, the second such incident in as many matches. "Aihhh bloodddy American knooocked mee riiiiight oohver and the refff was fockin blind!" brogued Mills, who was met with a blank, uncomprehending stare from the referee.
"Yes, I'm afraid Gary left his scoring boots at the Oakland airport," said Net.com manager Stephen Gleave. "But we should have played (and drank) harder."
The first goal of the game came on a Net.com penalty kick, awarded after a "phantom" handball was called on Cosmos manager Scott Raynovich. In the pub afterwards, Net.com forward Barrie Desmond admitted "Yes, it hit him in the ribs – but the ref looked to be easily swayed, so I raised my hand."
Net.com controlled the tempo in the first half, led by Gleave in the midfield. But Gleave was sidelined with a hamstring pull in the second half, and as the game wore on, his team appeared beaten down by the heat, the unfamiliar field, the jet lag, and perhaps the drinking. Though newcomer MacMillan delivered, expensive European import Barrie Desmond, seen smoking a pack of filterless Camels and sipping a Harp Ale prior to game time, failed to produce.
Defenders Scott Samele and Omar Wakili – who was involved in the controversial overtime penalty – were unable to contain Cosmos ringer Reginaldo, who baffled them with quick, flashy turns and an unpredictable release. Neither was goalkeep John Li up to the challenge, despite some good saves.
Light Reading's Saunders produced the final score in regulation with a manic burst into the corner, followed by a cross that was booted neatly into the net by – who else? – Ricardo.
Shortly thereafter, the Cosmos had an opportunity to put the game away, but Raynovich flubbed a breakaway with only ten minutes left in regulation, leaving the game to be decided in overtime.
Elsewhere on the Light Reading team, Tony Claudino, usually their top scorer, was uncharacteristically silent, plagued with asthma in the unusually hot and dusty May evening. Goalkeeper "JC" provided his typical drama, alternating between cat-like reflexes and utter paralysis.
In the end, it was Raimundo's unstoppable attack that left Net.com llorando. After flying 3,000 miles for this match, Gleave found the loss on a disputed penalty in overtime hard to swallow. Then, adding insult to injury, his team was pelted with eggs upon exiting the Marriott hotel. Those were even harder to swallow, since they were moving so fast.
— Larry, Monkey, Light Reading