By Michael Lewis
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Even after a stellar performance in Wednesday’s playoff game, there is a good chance that Travis Pittman won’t be at center mid when Cosmos B take on FC Motown Saturday night.
And there is even a chance Pittman won’t be in the starting lineup for the National Premier Soccer League playoff game at Commisso Stadium in Manhattan.
And guess what? That’s fine with Pittman, who understands how things work on a soccer team.
“Whatever Carlos [Mendes, head coach] needs, I am there,” Pittman said after Cosmos B defeated FC Frederick in the Northeast Region semifinal at Hofstra Soccer Stadium. Pittman replaced the suspended Rafa Garcia, who will be eligible to play Saturday.
“Of course, I’m a soccer player, I’m competitive,” he said. “I like to start. That’s just in my nature, but I think everybody on this team wants to start. That’s what makes us so great. Everybody’s competitive. That shows in the training. Everybody wants to impressive the coach. Honestly for the team, if Carlos wants me to come off the bench, I’ll do that. If he wants me to start, I’ll do that. Anything for the good of the team.”
Pittman acquitted himself well Wednesday, teaming with Danny Szetela and helping run the show and taking turns going on the offensive or staying back to break up plays and quick counterattacks.
“Danny had more of a green light to go forward,” he said. “We had a good chemistry. If I go up, he holds. If he goes up, I hold just to balance things. We worked well together.”
Many times it came down to communication.
“Sometimes it took eye contact just to know,” Pittman said.
Mendes certainly liked what he witnessed, especially after Pittman played an attacking role in the North Atlantic Conference final against the Brooklyn Italians Saturday night.
“He was excellent, one of the better players on the field,” he said. “He was comfortable at that position. Obviously, a little bit of a different role than last game for him but he was fantastic, changing the point of attack, breaking up plays, being in good spots. He was a key.”
Pittman certainly put the work as he walked off the field drenched in sweat. In the locker room afterwards, he said drank a bottle of Gatorade and another bottle of water.
“When I go home, I will try to finish a whole gallon [of water] because if you saw me, I was drenched,” he said.
“The first half was still humid. It cooled down a lot. It really helped when we kept possession. You could see the other team started dying. Just the first half was hot. Once we sticked to playing possession, attacking, it doesn’t take too much of a toll, but 90 minutes is a long time.”
For the second game in a row, Pittman got an opportunity to wear a shirt that had his name on it. For last Wednesday’s win over the Elm City Express, the Manassas, Va. native came on as a substitute wearing the No. 22 shirt of Teddy Niziolek, who has been sidelined for the season with an injury. He finally got a shirt — No. 27 — with his name for Saturday’s match vs. Brooklyn.
“It’s a proud feeling having my name on the same jersey that represents the Cosmos logo,” he said.
Pittman hoped that he will have an opportunity to wear that shirt on the field again at Commisso Stadium Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against FC Motown.
“I know they’re going to come at us,” he said. “We’re going to come at them. It’s going to be a battle but I’m confident. If we stick to Carlos’ game plan and we play confident and we play our Cosmos football, we should have no problem taking care of the result.”