Carlos Mendes and Red Bulls assistant coach Richie Williams in 2007. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
By Michael Lewis
With one, two or even three games remaining in his pro soccer career, Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes hasn’t made a decision on what he will do after he retires.
Coaching certainly is a possibility and if he chooses that path, the Cosmos captain certainly has had some high-profile and knowledgeable mentors.
“I’m very, very lucky,” Mendes said. “I’ve been very, very lucky to play for some unbelievable coaches, some successful coaches that really helped me throughout my career and helped me so much.”
The impressive list includes (years they coached Mendes in parentheses):
* Former Long Island Rough Riders head coach Paul Riley (2002), who guided the North Carolina Courage into the National Women’s Soccer League final for the second consecutive season. Considered one of the top women’s coaches, Riley coached the Western New York Flash to the 2016 NWSL crown. With Mendes on the squad, the Riders won the USL Pro crown in 2002.
* Ex-Rochester Rhinos coach Pat Ercoli (2003-2005), who led the A-League team to three league titles (1998, 2000 and 2001) and the 1999 Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup crown. He is the Rhinos’ GM and president.
* LA Football Club coach Bob Bradley (2005), who brought Mendes to the MetroStars in 2005. Bradley, who won the MLS Cup with the expansion Chicago Fire in 1998, coached the U.S. to the Round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup and has guided teams in Norway, France and England.
* Former U.S. national coach Bruce Arena (2006-2007), who won five MLS Cup championships with D.C. United and the LA Galaxy. In his first tenure as U.S. coach, the Franklin Square, N.Y. native guided the U.S. to a quarterfinal finish at the 2002 World Cup.
* Mexican national coach Juan Carlos Osorio (2008-2009), who directed the Red Bulls into the 2008 MLS Cup. Under Osorio’s tutelage, Mexico recently clinched a berth at the 2018 World Cup.
* Former Polish international Robert Warzycha (2012), who coached Columbus Crew SC to the MLS Supporters Shield crown in 2009.
* Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese (2013-2017), who directed the club to the 2013, 2015 and 2016 NASL championship.
And that doesn’t include former Red Bulls assistant coaches such as John Harkes and Richie Williams, who was interim coach of the club on two occasions.
So, Mendes said he definitely consider entering coaching.
“I haven’t spoken fully about to the club,” he said. “It’s something that I can definitely see myself interested in and we’ll definitely have to see with coach.”
Savarese, who is out of contract after this season, reportedly is considered as a possible MLS coach.
“Hopefully he will be here,” Mendes said. “He has done so much for this club, a big reason why I came here and signed with the Cosmos. It would be amazing to have him around.
“We know the business, we know there’s always changes. Things happen. … We’ll see what happens once we finish with the season.”
Performing with some of the best players in the world also was an education and a half, Mendes said.
“I’ve been very, very lucky to play with some of the best players, some of the most successful players in the world,” he said. “You can learn from them and learn how to be a better professional.”
He then rattled off some names quite familiar to soccer fans: Thierry Henry, Juan Pablo Angel, Raul and Marcos Senna.
“The list just goes on and on,” he said. “I could be here all day. These are guys who are top professionals, who are great people. I learned so much from. I’ve been very lucky.”