Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes (above): “Bledi’s been excellent all year,” he said. “I know the work rate he brings, the mentality. He never gives up.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Michael Lewis
NEW YORK — Bledi Bardic doesn’t like to brag about himself, so we’re going to have to ask some other soccer people to talk about the Cosmos B striker.
So let’s ask what Cosmos B head coach Carlos Mendes thinks about Bardic, who led the team with 10 goals in as many regular-season games.
“Bledi’s been excellent all year,” he said. “I know the work rate he brings, the mentality. He never gives up. He’ll fight. He has been a key component for us. Just happy for him and proud of him. He deserved the goals and he works hard. He’s a difference on this team.”
Bardic certainly was the difference Sunday night, connecting for his first hat-trick with Cosmos B, in a 4-0 triumph over Kingston Stockade FC.
So, let’s ask someone who might be a little less biased, such as Kingston head coach David Lindholm.
“He’s dangerous,” he said. “He sits on our center backs and then he checks into the midfield and finds space and gets on the ball and makes things happen. … It put our center backs in the difficult position having to decide do they chase him into the midfield, do they try to pass him off but then you’ve got two other midfielders on his tail. Those guys are moving around and making it really hard as well. They just have so many guys who are very good on the ball and make runs constantly.”
But when it comes time for Bardic to talk about himself and his accomplishments, the 6-1, 175-lb. striker is humble.
“For me, it’s important to help the team in anyway,” he said. “Scoring goals, assists and defending, whatever it is, just help the team win. The most important is for the team. But I’m happy for my hat-trick.”
When he asked about finishing the regular season with a team-high 10 goals in as many games, Bardic deflected his answer.
“Even my goals, it is the job of great players of the team,” he said. “Everybody is involved in these goals. Everybody is credited, worked hard, defending, attacking, crossing. I’m happy about the goals. The most important thing is the 10-0 and thinking about the next game.”
Bardic finished third among North Atlantic Conference goal-scorers behind Fabrice Komla Dogbey of the Rhode Island Reds FC (11 goals in eight games for a goals-per-game average of 1.375) and Joshua Fawole of FC Baltimore (10 goals in 9 appearances for an average of 1.111).
He realized that all his goal-scoring and Cosmos B’s 10-0-0 mark in the conference would go for naught if it doesn’t go deep in the National Premier Soccer League playoffs.
Cosmos B hosts defending champion Elm City Express in a North Atlantic Conference semifinal at Hofstra Soccer Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The victor will meet the winner of the Brooklyn Italians-Hartford City FC match Saturday night.
New York defeated Elm City, 5-0, at Hofstra June 23. But that’s in the past.
“Our goal was to win every game,” Bardic said. “We made it. Now we are in first place. Now it’s the most important time, the playoffs. We can’t lose a game, we can’t make mistakes.”