Emmanuel Ledesma led the Cosmos with 10 goals and added six assists. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Michael Lewis
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — As well as Emmanuel Ledesma has played, especially in crunch time, Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese expects even more from his standout midfielder.
Savarese said that the 29-year-old Ledesma “has been fantastic” for his club this North American Soccer League season.
Ledesma is coming off a hat-trick performance in New York’s 5-2 home win over Puerto Rico FC in the team’s regular-season finale last weekend, a result that clinched the fourth and final playoff berth in The Championship. The Cosmos visit Miami FC Sunday at 5 p.m.
The Argentine finished the regular season with a team-best 10 goals and six assists — both good enough to finish in the top five in the league — in 17 starts over 19 games.
“He has surpassed our expectations, but he has a lot more that he can give,” Savarese said after training at Mitchel Athletic Complex Wednesday. “When he came, it was a situation for him of fitness. He struggled a little bit in the beginning to find his best moment to be able to show us how what he could do for our team.
“Given the chance, day-by-day, he kept on becoming better and better and better. … He has done very, very well. Even with that, there is an even a better player inside there that we still have to be able to push, that we still have to be able to help. I’m very excited his coming into his best form now at this particularly moment.”
For his recent play, Ledesma was honored as NASL player of the month for October, in which he recorded four goals and three assists in five matches.
Given the Cosmos’ opponents Sunday — Miami FC was the runaway winners in the spring and fall seasons — they will need Ledesma at his very best if they have a chance of upending the top-seeded side and reach Soccer Bowl next weekend.