By DAN KARELL
In a season of first’s for many of the New York Cosmos players, they faced a whole new experience as a team last Saturday.
The club’s 3-0 defeat in the wind and rain at the Carolina RailHawks wasn’t nearly as abysmal as it seems on paper, but it did include two red cards to Joseph Nane and Sebastian Guenzatti. Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes admitted this week in training that the team lost their head at times throughout the course of the match and that the defeat “woke the team up” to some of the difficulties of playing in the North American Soccer League.
“We need to do a better job with handling the referees and game situations like that,” Mendes told SBI in a phone interview this week. “Those are little things between winning 2-0 or 3-0 and losing 2-0 or 3-0. Sometimes you need experience in games where you might not be getting the calls, or the game isn’t going your way, but we need to find a way to get through that.”
Even though in professional sports there are no moral victories, Mendes thought it’s best to improve on what they did well and work hard on fixing the little mistakes that he feels cost the team points last time around.
“You have to take the good and the bad,” Mendes said. “Even in the first half (on Saturday), we controlled a lot even though we were down 2-0, we created some opportunities, and we as a team we have to look at ourselves and look at the good things we did. You look at the things you should do better and the things you need to improve on but also there were some positives in the game and we need to continue rolling on that.”
Here are some more notes from this week’s New York Cosmos training sessions:
SZETELA COULD MAKE HIS FIRST START
Following two substitute appearances, each one longer than the next, Cosmos midfielder Danny Szetela could make his first start for the club in an official match on Saturday.
The suspensions to Nane and Guenzatti have opened up two places in the lineup, and after a couple of solid performances in the scoreless draw at the Tampa Bay Rowdies (22 minutes) and the defeat to the Carolina RailHawks (45 minutes), Szetela has an opportunity to enter the Cosmos lineup in central midfield as a starter.
“I’m feeling great so far, hopefully I’ll be able to get the start if the opportunity presents itself on Saturday,” Szetela told SBI in a phone interview. “If (Gio) calls for 90 minutes then it’s 90 minutes, if he calls for less then it’s less, I’ll go out there and give it my all and hopefully get three points.”
Mendes was confident that whether it’s Szetela or Dane Murphy potentially starting in midfield on Saturday, he believes that the team wouldn’t miss a beat in terms of the talent drop from starters to reserves.
“I’m personally a fan of his, I think he’s a great player, and if it’s him or Dane [Murphy] that play this weekend, I think they’ll both do a good job,” Mendes said. “We’ll see (about Saturday), but the way Danny’s been training and everything, he’s really a big plus for this team.”
SQUAD NEEDS TO PUNISH OPPONENTS, SAYS MENDES
For the second consecutive week, the Cosmos failed to finish any of their chances on goal.
According to NASL.com’s statistics, the Cosmos had 12 shots on goal against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and three shots on goal against the RailHawks, with forwards Alessandro Noselli, Peri Marosevic, and Guenzatti all clutching at their opportunities.
The lack of scoring has led Mendes to believe that the team needs to learn how to “punish” opponents more, like the RailHawks did to the the Cosmos six days ago.
“We felt like in Tampa we created plenty of chances, the movement was good, and we’re just not punishing teams,” Mendes said. “We gave up some goals last game but we also need to punish teams and try to jump on them and I think that will help get a result. That’s something we’ve been working hard this week.”
NEWS AND NOTES
- Per a Cosmos spokesperson, the suspensions to Nane and Guenzatti are for one match only, and they’ll be eligible for selection in the Cosmos next match on September 1 at FC Edmonton.
- In a quickly scheduled friendly match, the New York Cosmos reserves drew 1-1 with the Montreal Impact reserves. The game was a chance for some players who haven’t seen minutes to keep or gain some match fitness. Hagop Chirishian scored the lone goal for the Cosmos
- Carlos Mendes mentioned that a lot of talk this week from the coaching staff has been to push the pace of the game more, and for the Cosmos to control the tempo.
What do you make of these notes? Do you feel that the Cosmos needed the wake up call? Do you believe it’s good to experience losing at least once during a season? Do you see Szetela earning a start on Saturday?
Share your thoughts below.