By DAN KARELL
With a little more than one week to go until their North American Soccer League home opener on August 3, the New York Cosmos took to the field on Wednesday in their first friendly match against professional opposition.
In the midst of a ten-day preseason trip to London, the Cosmos fell to League One side Leyton Orient, 2-1, with the lone Cosmos goal coming from 21-year-old Queens native Sebastian Guenzatti. Despite the defeat, head coach Giovanni Savarese was very upbeat about what he saw from his team.
For us it was an excellent test, it’s exactly what we needed at this time of preseason to prepare the team for August 3,” Savarese said to SBI in a phone interview from London. Leyton Orient has a very good team in the league that they play in and they came in to try to make it difficult for us, which was an excellent situation for us to be able to see the things that we need to work on.”
Building a team from scratch is no easy task, and having the whole team adjust to playing alongside new teammates takes time. But according to Savarese, the second half was where the team began to click and start to play the kind of soccer that he has been teaching and discussing in practices.
“We had a slow start, but then we had a very dominating second half,” Savarese said. “We probably could have had a little bit more from the game in regards to the result, but I think overall we, the coaching staff, are very satisfied in what we saw in the second half and in the reaction of the team. We’re getting closer to where we have to be.”
The Cosmos wrap up their preseason tour of London with a closed door friendly on Friday against Gillingham.
Here are some more notes from the Cosmos trip to London:
SENNA LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS
From the players through the coaching staff, new signing Marcos Senna has been drawing rave reviews.
The former Spanish National Team midfielder was brought in to the Cosmos squad to help shore up the center of midfield, and though he is working his way back into fitness, defender Carlos Mendes said his best trait is his professionalism.
“He’s a great guy, he’s got a great attitude, he’s coming in to work hard, he’s very humble and a guy like him of course playing at the highest levels for a long time, he really brings something special,” Mendes said to SBI. “The most important thing is that he’s here to work and he wants to be here.”
The match on Wednesday was Senna’s first since helping Villarreal return to La Liga last month, but despite the recent vacation spent by Senna and his family, he looks to already be on top of his game.
“He’s a leader among the team, he’s bringing all of his experience for all of the players, and he’s a class act in every sense of the work, on and off the field,” Savarese said. (On Wednesday) he played a great match, he was at the top of his game, and he gave a tremendous performance.
“So we are not just satisfied, I would say we are extremely satisfied with everything that he has contributed.”
TEAM CHEMISTRY CONTINUES TO BUILD
One of the most underrated aspects of a soccer team is how quickly all of the players can gel and become acclimated with one another. When starting a team from scratch like the Cosmos, the chemistry building becomes even more important.
Having a long preseason together certainly helps, but Mendes says that playing in the preseason friendlies are a good way to get to know your teammates on and off the field better.
“I think we have a great group,” Mendes said. “The staff is excellent so the chemistry has been really good, it’s been positive, and now it’s just getting to know the little tendencies on the field of some guys you haven’t played with and understanding them.”
NEWS AND NOTES
- Satoru Kashiwase and Jemal Johnson were both substituted early in the Leyton Orient match. Savarese said that Kashiwase is fine but that Johnson suffered a knee injury that he didn’t sound very optimistic of, saying “It doesn’t look very promising right now.”
- Mendes said that he was glad to get his first 90 minute game out of the way, and was happy that despite feeling tired, he felt good. It was his first match against professional opposition since October 28, 2012 in a match with the Columbus Crew in MLS.
- Savarese said that new signing Roversio gives his team “exactly what we were looking for” in his position as a central defender.
What do you think of these notes? Do you agree with Savarese’s assessment of the friendly defeat? Excited to see Senna start the opening match?
Share your thoughts below.