Jimmy Maurer:  “hat’s something that comes with experience, being able to stay tuned in and not think back, ‘Oh, I did great, because the second you think that, the next one is going through your legs.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Jimmy Maurer has learned at least one vital rule as a goalkeeper:

After you have made a big save with your feet or your hands, that is not the time to pat yourself on your back with those same hands.

If you do, you could wind up using your hands to take the ball out of the back of the net.

“You keep progressing in the game, you don’t have time to think back,” said Maurer, who had plenty of opportunities to pat himself on his back in the Cosmos’ last game, a 2-0 victory at Miami FC April 9.

He made eight saves, some of them spectacular, to keep his team afloat. But not once did the 28-year-old keeper think about how he denied Vincenzo Rennella, Dylan Mares and Hunter Freeman.

“I think that’s something that can be tricky as a goalkeeper,” he said after practice at the Mitchel Athletic Complex Wednesday. “It’s something that you got to work through when you’re younger as you’re playing. “That’s the temptation as a goalkeeper. Sometimes the ball gets down at the other end of the field. You do have a few minutes but you can’t let your mind wander. You’ve got to stay tuned in, stay organized.

“I think that’s something that comes with experience, being able to stay tuned in and not think back, ‘Oh, I did great, because the second you think that, the next one is going through your legs.”

So, no one has to remind Maurer how soccer can humble a player or goalkeeper. He has been through plenty of ups and down in his career. With the Cosmos, it has been more highs than lows. He has been a part of three North American Soccer League championships teams, including backstopping the past two Soccer Bowl titlists.

Another important rule the Lawrenceville, Fa. native has learned: don’t let your adrenaline get the best of you.

“For sure, it’s like anything. Your adrenaline definitely charges and that gives you a heightened focus,” he said. “You can’t let it get you over the top, thinking you won the game and it’s over and it’s amazing because you have more to go. But as long as you have that adrenaline and focus it into the next play and stay more on top of everything, talking to your teammates, keeping the defenders organized and being really physically ready for the next shot, too. That’s the idea.”

Maurer’s experience took care of that. While he received many plaudits for his stellar show, Maurer said it wasn’t always about him in that Miami match.

“I think the biggest thing, not just me, but as a team, we had a bit of a heightened focus,” he said. “We were a bit pissed off on the way we played and lost at home in our home opener against them.”

He was referring to the 3-0 defeat in the home opener April 1.

“Luckily for us, we were able to play them the next week,” Maurer said. “From the pregame meeting in the hotel, we were all tuned in, we were all really focused. It was one of those games the guys were flying in front of me, blocking shots. It was the same for me. Every single guy was going to do whatever it took to win that game.”

After a winning a game like that, you would think a “hot” Maurer in goal would want to get back onto the field ASAP. As it turned out, the Cosmos had a rare bye weekend last week.

When asked about that, the keeper replied, “It’s a tricky question. You roll into the next game and you win again and you say, ‘I’m glad we played.’ To be honest, I think the break was good for us because where we are as a team right now. This break gave us time to work on fitness levels, work on relationship and guys getting to play together. We were able to get a couple of exhibitions in and really build relationships and work on our style of play and build fitness, which we really needed.”

Maurer and the Cosmos will find out soon enough as they host Jacksonville Armada FC at MCU Park in Brooklyn Saturday.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.