Danny Szetela: “It’s emotional because I was almost retiring again.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Michael Lewis
NEW YORK — Danny Szetela hopes that his walk off the Rocco B. Commisso Stadium field won’t be the last time he leaves a soccer pitch after a competitive game.
The Cosmos B captain isn’t ready to hang up his boots quite yet. He was ready to retire prior to getting an opportunity to play in the National Premier Soccer League.
Szetela’s season ended earlier than planned Saturday night as Cosmos B lost to FC Motown in the Northeast Region final, 3-2. FC Motown advanced to the national semifinals while Cosmos B will go home.
“It’s emotional because I was almost retiring again,” the Clifton, N.J. native said about a difficult decision he almost made prior to the season. “I almost actually signed with Motown and played with them. My hearts with the Cosmos forever. Hopefully we’ll continue to play in 2019. Otherwise, it will be a tough decision for me to maybe retire.”
Szetela, who started his career with Columbus Crew SC in 2004, is 31-years-old. After the North American Soccer League went into hiatus after the 2017 due to the U.S. Soccer Federation rescinded its Division II status, Szetela seriously considered retiring because he said it was difficult finding a USL team that could pay him enough money on which to live.
“If they’re back, I’d love to be back,” he said of the Cosmos. “But it’s not up to me at the end of the day.”
The fate of the NASL is unknown as the league has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. There has been talk of a professional league emanating out of the NPSL, but it has just been talk up until now. In an interview with FrontRowSoccer.com Saturday night, Commisso, the Cosmos owner, said there would be a Cosmos team returning in 2019, but he did not know in what form.
On Saturday night, Cosmos B could not dig out of a 3-0 hole after surrendering three goals during a 19-minute span in the second half. The hosts did have some chances in the opening 45 minutes but could not convert.
“Listen, in the first half, we had our opportunities and we didn’t finish,” Szetela said. “The second half, they came out and finished opportunities and they won the game. There’s nothing much more to say. They played a better second half.”
Cosmos B certainly made a game out of it, striking twice in stoppage time to pull within a goal. Ivan Berterame, who came on for playoff scoring hero Zaire Bartley (four goals in as many games) in the 86th minute did some late damage. He tallied twice in stoppage time, the first on a brilliant shot from distance, the next one from close range off a Darwin Espinal free kick.
“When we got that free kick, there’s always a chance,” Szetela said. “The goalie made a good save. I don’t think our guy was offside on the rebound, but the linesman [felt he was] and that’s the way the game goes.
“Big props to Motown and good luck in the next match.”