Carlos Mendes and his Cosmos B team will try for win No. 6 against NYAC Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Michael Lewis
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Cosmos B’s biggest challenges this National Premier Soccer League season might not necessarily come from the opposition, but from itself.
Twice the side rolled up huge early leads only to lose focus.
It happened in the 6-1 home win over Greater Lowell NPSL FC May 20.
And it occurred in the 4-2 away win at Rhode Island Reds FC last Saturday, June 2.
“You think you’re in control of the game and you slip up,” Cosmos B head coach Carlos Mendes said earlier this week.
Mendes said he hoped the Cosmos penchant for scoring early continues “because you want to be in a situation where you lead by a couple of goals.”
But he doesn’t want the team to lose its focus with a multi-goal margin.
“It’s a mentality,” Mendes said. “Whether you’re down 1-0 or up three or four goals, you have to keep the pace of the game, you have to keep the rhythm and stay sharp and not get off the gas [pedal] because if you allow one or two goals, teams get confident. They’ll come after you, they’ll press. It’s always more complicated.”
Mendes has talked about it with his team. Cosmos B enjoyed a four-goal advantage in Rhode Island before the host side struck twice late in the match.
“The second half we dropped off a little as a team, as a group,” he said. “We got off the gas a little bit. We got away from our game. We kind of got a little bit into their game, a little bit hectic, a little bit physical, chippy. I think it hurt us. The goals were obviously our mistakes.
“We let them back in with two goals. It’s a learning process. A lot of good things from the game and a great start. We jumped on them. We didn’t maintain the level. That was the disappointing part. We said to the guys afterwards, ‘We have to be a little bit more consistent. Even in a situation where you’re winning by a couple of goals, you got to not to let them back into the game. We have to improve on that.’ ”
Cosmos B (5-0-0, 15 points) will try to keep their perfect record alive when the North Atlantic Conference Division leads host the New York Athletic Club (2-0-0, 6) at Commisso Stadium at Columbia University Saturday at 7 p.m.
Though Cosmos B is at the mid-point of its schedule, NYAC has played only twice. So, finding information about its foes is not an easy endeavor.
“We’re trying to piece together some things about them,” Mendes said. “The difficult part is that they haven’t played that many games. They started late. They have a lot of games this month. So, we haven’t been able to see them play too much. We know they have quality. The players that we know are good players. It’s a physical team. They work hard. They’ve done well so far. A big challenge for us. We need to be ready to play. NYAC is never an easy game for us. We have to be at our best if we want to come out with three points.”
Kevin Tenjo could make his second consecutive start in goal for Cosmos B, having played in last week’s win after regular Macklin Robinson suffered a knee injury prior to the Rhode Island game.
“Mack had a little situation with his knee bothering him,” Mendes said. “We felt Kevin and all our keepers are training well. They look good and there was an opportunity for him to step in. Mack, I don’t think it’s going to be serious or long term. But the decision was made because he wasn’t feeling 100 percent. Kevin stepped in did well. He’s a goalkeeper who is confident with his feet. He likes to play out of the back, which fits our style. Made two or three big saves in the first half when they countered us. Made a save that kept us in the lead.”