Lopez lifts Cosmos over San Antonio

Dylan Butler

Before Saturday, there was no doubt in Henry Lopez’s mind what was the biggest goal of his career.

On April 6, 2011, his second-half strike proved to be the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over the United States that booked Guatemala’s passage into the FIFA U-20 World Cup. 

Now Lopez has a 1A. 

The 21-year-old midfielder came off the bench to score the dramatic stoppage-time winner to lift the Cosmos to a 2-1 victory over the San Antonio Scorpions in front of 6,852 fans Saturday night at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. 

“I think those two goals are the best feelings in my career,” Lopez said. “The first one because we qualified for the first time in Guatemalan history to the World Cup. That was really amazing and today I’m very happy because this is my first professional goal with a big team like the Cosmos. Those two feelings are the best in my life.”

The victory was the second in the Cosmos second incarnation in the North American Soccer League and both home wins came in second-half stoppage time. In the club’s first match in nearly 30 years, Alessandro Noselli netted the winner in a 2-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Aug. 3.

“The game was different – they created chances, our goalkeeper was able to be big today in two or three situations and we also created more opportunities, found more spaces behind the other team,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said. “In some ways it was a different game … [but] the score was the same and the drama at the end was the same.”

Savarese brought Lopez on in the 71st minute, tasking him with trying to disrupt San Antonio’s Javier Saavedra down the right flank and to be dangerous in the attacking third. 

Lopez was a threat almost immediately, heading a Marcos Senna cross off the hands of San Antonio goalkeeper Pat Hannigan in the 78th minute and turning in the box to fire an open shot from 12 yards that Hannigan saved in the 90th minute. 

But Lopez wouldn’t be denied in the second minute of stoppage time. Danny Szetela sent a cross toward the back post that was popped up by Satoru Kashiwase at the edge of the six-yard box. Senna then nodded the ball back into the mix where Lopez latched on, powerfully headed to Hannigan’s right for his first Cosmos goal.

“I saw everybody was fighting at the end of the game trying to score a goal to have the win and when Marcos headed it in the box I just tried to run between the two big guys and score,” Lopez said. 

Lopez replaced Diomar Diaz, who put the Cosmos (2-1-1) on the scoreboard in the 42nd minute, snapping a 222-minute scoreless streak. The Venezuelan made a darting run toward the box and tried to slip a pass to Ayoze, but San Antonio defender Greg Janicki tackled the ball away. Diaz then pounced on the attempted clearance and hit a rocket past a helpless Hannigan from 16 yards out. 

Janicki would be sent off in the 52nd minute for a second yellow card, leaving San Antonio (0-4-0) with just 10 men. Still, the Scorpions leveled after some nervy moments by the Cosmos defense. 

Lyle Martin crossed the ball in front of goal where an unmarked Tomasz Zahorski tied the game at 1 in the 65th minute. 

A disappointing draw, though, was turned into a dramatic win thanks to Lopez, who has played in Guatemala, Brazil and Maryland, but has now found a home on Long Island. 

“It’s a player that goes forward into the box, can score goals, but also he can play wide as he did today,” Savarese said of Lopez. “He’s an interesting player and also he’s very powerful, he’s strong even though he’s not very tall. He brought us a different quality we didn’t have.”

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Dylan Butler

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