Rafa Garcia won’t be able to celebrate any goals Wednesday night. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Michael Lewis
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Since his team will host FC Frederick in a vital National Premier Soccer League playoff game, Cosmos B head coach Carlos Mendes wasn’t about to reveal who would replace Rafa Garcia at one of the central midfield spots.
Garcia isn’t available for the Northeast Region semifinal at Hofstra Soccer Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. due to a red card he incurred he incurred in the North Atlantic Conference final victory over the Brooklyn Italians Saturday.
So, Mendes felt he has found someone to partner with Carlos Mendes at central mid for the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday match.
Regardless who takes over, Garcia will be a tough act to follow as he has proved to be one of the best defensive midfielders in the league with his physical, take no prisoners play.
“Obviously it’s a big loss, a key player for us,” Mendes said after training at Mitchel Athletic Complex Tuesday. “But like I said after the game we have guys who have contributed all year. They’ve stepped up and done a great job. We don’t expect anything different. Whoever stepped in throughout the year, whether it’s on the backline, in the net, anywhere on the field, they’ve done a great job and it’s someone’s time to shine. Guys got opportunities to step up and that’s what it’s all about. We said it at the beginning of the year. If you want to win a championship, you need a deep team. We’re here at this point and someone needs to step in for Rafa.”
If Cosmos B wins, Garcia will be eligible for the Northeast final Saturday. But first, New York must get past FC Frederick.
“It’s a game where if you don’t bring your A game, if you don’t bring your best game, you’re going to be out of the playoffs, come Wednesday,” Mendes said. “We have to be ready. We respect them. We know it’s going to be a very difficult match and they’re going to come at us and hopefully we’re going to have enough to get through.”