By DAN KARELL
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Danny Szetela couldn’t remember the last time that he had scored a professional goal.
The New York Cosmos midfielder scored the first of four goals for the club on a night where they routed the Carolina RailHawks, 4-0, in arguably their most complete performance of the season. Szetela, making his eighth consecutive start in central midfield, was superb at both ends of the field, with his tireless running, pressuring of the ball, supplying passes, and of course scoring.
“I think it was in Italy,” pondered Szetela after the match. “You can tell me, maybe.”
The 26-year-old midfielder was in fact correct. Prior to Saturday’s victory, Szetela’s last goal came on October 18, 2008 while he was on-loan at Serie B side Brescia, nearly five years to the day from his most recent goal, or 1,820 days. And like his goal against the RailHawks, Szetela’s goal with Brescia was credited as the game-winning-goal in a 3-2 victory against Triestina, scoring in the 88th minute to make it a 3-1 lead at the time.
Outside of the goal, Szetela’s performance on Saturday showed how far the midfielder has come after spending the last three years out of soccer. Since debuting for the Cosmos at right back in their 0-0 draw on August 10 at the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the New Jersey native came off the bench in the Cosmos 3-0 defeat to the Carolina RailHawks a week later in central midfield, and has started there ever since.
“Four months ago he was playing in local leagues,” said his head coach, Giovanni Savarese after the match. “He came into preseason and then he’s been growing every week. Today he had a tremendous performance, he scored a goal, coming inside the (box) as we ask him to do, finishing great, and just the effort in the middle and the quality. It wasn’t only about the pressure winning balls, it was as well the quality of his passes, his positioning, his confidence, he looked very good today.
“I think he hasn’t reached the top yet, I think there’s still more that he can grow.”