Giovanni Savarese: “We are patient. We are moving towards the right direction. I hope that everybody [the fans] also understands.” (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Giovanni Savarese can’t predict whether the Cosmos will defeat the Jacksonville Armada Saturday, but the head coach does know one thing about his soccer team:

Fans haven’t seen the best of his squad, not by a longshot.

The two-time defending North American Soccer League champions enter Saturday’s 7 p.m. game at MCU Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn with a 1-1-1 mark and four points against first-place Jacksonville (2-0-1, seven).

“What I am encouraged [about] is the room of the potential growth that the team still has because I don’t think we have reached to the best possibility that we have,” Savarese said after training at Mitchel Athletic Complex Wednesday. “So I think we understand each other, still finding positions. We are still finding the right system. So, we’re still moving to the right direction to make sure we find the right recipe to make the best for this group to show.”

Savarese is willing to be patient and he hopes his team and fans will be as well.

After all, the Cosmos are a work in progress. Given that they got a rather late start to the preseason, they are off to a decent start, though Savarese felt there was plenty of room for improvement.

“We need to be patient,” he said. “We are patient. We are moving towards the right direction. I hope that everybody [the fans] also understands … to be patient as well and to little by little see improvement of the team.

“Things are not going to happen overnight. We need work. We need to improve. We need to see players in different positions. We’re getting more comfortable with the guys and we’re starting to see guys who are pushing each other a little bit more to fight for a starting spot.”

Three weeks into the season, the Cosmos wound up with a bye week and did not play any North American Soccer League games last weekend even though there are an even number of teams (eight) in the league this year.

The Cosmos lost some momentum after that big 2-0 triumph at Miami FC April 8, but it allowed the team another week to work on fundamentals, especially for the newcomers.

When asked about the bye week, goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer 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.”

The Cosmos have made some great strides since the scoreless draw in the March 25 season-opener at Puerto Rico FC.

“The progression has been huge,” Maurer said. “It’s only been three games but every day in training is a progression forward. Every day in training its getting that more comfortable with guys, the building of relationships with the guy next to you, whether it is me and my defenders, whether it’s the right back or center back, the strikers, the outside back.

“All those relationships take time to fill. You got to figure out. We have a lot of new guys in, a lot of guys who didn’t come in until the week of the first game, the week after the first game. Every day has been big for us in terms of building our team.”