By DAN KARELL
Through the first half of the North American Soccer League fall season, the New York Cosmos are still not where they’d like to be.
The rebooted club currently have nine points and sit in fourth place in the NASL standings, though they’re only one point behind the Carolina RailHawks, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who are in a three-way tie for first place. Had the Cosmos been able to convert a second of their nine shots on goal last Saturday in their 1-1 draw with the Atlanta Silverbacks, they Cosmos would be in first place right now.
It’s likely this thinking, and the fact that the team failed to win at home for the first time this season last Saturday, that forward Stefan Dimitrov is calling this Saturday’s game against Minnesota United a must-win.
“We know that the upcoming game against Minnesota is a must-win game for us, because we don’t want to be dropping points at home,” Dimitrov told SBI in a phone interview. “We (want to) create a lot of chances, score goals, and take away the game early in the first half so we don’t allow the opponent to get their confidence.”
Following Saturday’s match, the road ahead is a difficult one for the Cosmos, with games against the current top five teams in the standings (excluding the Cosmos) in each of the next four weeks.
Here are some more notes on the Cosmos this week:
TURF SURFACE IS A FACTOR FOR SCORING WOES
Despite the Cosmos having a group of forwards with MLS experience (Peri Marosevic, Stefan Dimitrov), international experience (Henry Lopez, Satoru Kashiwase), and European league experience (Alessandro Noselli), the team has scored only six times through six matches.
Throughout the season, question’s about the team’s finishing issues have been brushed away by both the players and the coaches, with the narrative centering around how chances were created, and it’s only a matter of time. However, according to Dimitrov, playing on artificial surfaces like the one at Shuart Stadium does play a factor.
“We are adjusting to the (home) field in terms of being artificial versus our training ground being natural grass and that takes a little bit of an adjustment,” Dimitrov said. “Traveling in and out, playing on the different surfaces put you a little bit off your touch.”
The Bulgarian-born forward refused to use the switching of fields an excuse for the team’s goal output, but did admit that it makes it tougher sometimes to convert a opportunity at full speed.
“(The surface) is a bit in the back of the minds of our forward and midfield players because we’re anticipating bad bounces or just looking at the ball where it goes,” Dimitrov said. “It’s not an excuse, we all know that, but it’s also a factor that’s very crucial in a split second sense.”
COSMOS TO HONOR NYPD AND FDNY PRIOR TO SATURDAY’S MATCH
Earlier this week, the Cosmos announced the final details of their pre-match ceremonies on Saturday.
As part of what the Cosmos are calling “Heroes night,” the team will honor the NYPD and FDNY soccer teams prior to the start of the Cosmos match against Minnesota United, as well as Harold Dinzes, a 96-year-old World War II and Korean War veteran, who was an original Cosmos season ticket holder.
Throughout the evening, the USO of Metropolitan New York will also be taking donations for troops stationed overseas. The USO Show Troupe will also be in attendance and perform prior to the match and at halftime.
What do you think of these notes? Do you agree that this Saturday’s game is a must-win? Do you believe the turf has been an issue this season?
Share your thoughts below.