Coach Giovanni Savarese says he will decide Thursday as to whether Carlos Mendes will play vs. Jacksonville Saturday (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)

By Michael Lewis Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Carlos Mendes, who missed the last two Cosmos matches with a hamstring injury, is healthy enough to play this weekend, says coach Giovanni Savarese.

A decision on the veteran center back’s status for Saturday’s home game against the Jacksonville Armada at MCU Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. at 7 p.m. will be made Thursday after training.

“I think if we wanted to he could play this week,” Savarese said after practice at the team’s training facility at the windy Mitchel Athletic Complex Wednesday. “But we’ll see if that is what we want to do. That tells you a lot because he is ready to start playing.”

Mendes spent part of the day at a physical therapy center “to do extra work there,” Savarese said.

“But if we want him to play this weekend we can have him available,” he added. “We’ll see tomorrow [Thursday] how he’s feeling and then we’ll make our decision.”

The 36-year-old Mendes started in the Cosmos’ season-opening scoreless draw at Puerto Rico FC March 25, but sat at the next matches, a 3-0 defeat to Miami FC in their April 1 home opener and 2-0 victory at Miami FC April 8.

Goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer has appreciated having a player with the experience and vision of a Mendes on the backline of the two-time North American Soccer League defending champions.

“It’s huge,” he said. “You use a cliché like, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got until its gone’ kind of thing. He’s such a smart, experienced player. He brings so much calmness. He solves problems before they happen. So, we definitely miss Carlos out on the field. He’ll be back soon.”

Maurer then rattled off the names of other defenders, including newcomers Dejan Jakovic and Darrius Barnes and returnees David Ochieng, Ayoze, Ryan Richter and Jimmy Mulligan. Jackovic and Ochieng have been paired at the center back spots during Mendes’ absence.

“All these guys. it’s been pretty seamless,” Maurer said, “but at the same time you do miss the veteran presence that knows the league, knows the team and brings that leadership.”

Mendes was not available for comment.