The San Francisco Deltas dethroned the New York Cosmos in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,691 fans at Kezar Stadium on Sunday night, blanking the defending champions, 2-0, to lift the Soccer Bowl Trophy in their first season.
Tommy Heinemann opened the scoring in the 19th minute from the penalty spot, and Devon Sandoval sealed the game with a tap-in on what turned out to be the last kick.
Deltas head coach Marc Dos Santos, who was appearing in a league final for the third straight year, finally lifted the silverware that had eluded him in his previous two tries. Dos Santos had led expansion side Ottawa Fury to the 2015 NASL title game, where he lost, 3-2, to another Giovanni Savarese-led Cosmos side.
A poor clearance in the back put the Cosmos in trouble in the game’s opening minutes. Jackson latched onto the end of a deflection inside the area and was tripped up by an onrushing Jimmy Maurer. The referee pointed to the spot and Heinemann, the Deltas’ leading goalscorer, buried a penalty kick straight down the middle in the 19th minute.
It was Heinemann’s third career goal in a NASL title game; he scored twice in the 2015 Final while with Fury FC.
The Cosmos had a couple of good looks at goal in the first half. First, Javi Marquez snuck in behind the Deltas back line, but San Francisco goalkeeper Romuald Peiser came out to cut off his angle inside the six-yard box. Then, Andres Flores found himself free in the area, but his header flew just wide of the back post.
New York’s best opportunity to draw level came in the final 10 minutes, as Emmanuel Ledesma floated in a corner kick to the middle of the box. Venezuelan international Juan Guerra jumped to meet it, but his header missed high and wide by a few inches.
The Deltas put an exclamation point on the win in the waning moments. As the Cosmos pressed forward, but San Francisco countered with speedy Brazilian Pablo Dyego dribbling into the visitors’ half. He played a weighted ball in behind the defense for Kyle Bekker, who beat Maurer by a half-step to flick the ball ahead to a wide-open Sandoval for an easy finish.
The last-second goal sent the packed stadium into a frenzy, which carried right into a jubilant trophy celebration at midfield with players, coaches, staff members, and fans.
The result represented the Cosmos’ first loss in a title game in the NASL Modern Era. New York lifted the trophy in 2013, missed out on The Championship Final in 2014, and won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.