Carlos Mendes: “It was a great crowd, great atmosphere. The guys fed off the energy.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Carlos Mendes walked off the Mitchel Athletic Complex field a happy head coach Saturday night.

The Cosmos head coach watched his side register a 2-0 triumph over the New York Athletic Club as Aaron Dennis and Charlie Ledula scored their first goals for the National Premier Soccer League club.

The Cosmos also enjoyed a huge possession advantage and outshot their foes, 22-2, in front of a solid crowd of 3,750.

So there was a lot to be happy about.

Saying that, however, Mendes realized this team is far from the finished product that he has expected it to be. After all, no team wants to peak in its first game of the season.

“It was a great crowd, great atmosphere,” he said. “The guys fed off the energy.

“There were moments in the game where we could have been obviously better, and we missed a couple of opportunities to put the game out of reach. So, things to work on. There were moments in the game where we lost a little discipline and shape defensively. And that’s something we have to be a little bit more consistent. Overall, proud of the group. They worked hard. We’re excited to be in front of the fans and we got the win.”

Now, Mendes wasn’t being a Debbie Downer.

“You have to look at the positives,” he said. “We got in good areas. We got in dangerous positions. So, it’s good. But you want to finish some more of those chances. That’s soemthing that we will continue to work on. The effort was there.”

Oh, and about that crowd.

Mendes and his players gave plenty of credit to the 3,750 that came out to watch on a chilly April Sunday night.

“I think the atmosphere was great,” team captain Danny Szetela said. “This will be my seventh season with the Cosmos, and I’ve got to say that the crowd has been the best we’ve had in the last three to four years.”

He got no argument from his teammates.

“It brought so much excitement to me,” said Ledula, who scored 68 seconds after entering the match. “I didn’t want to let them down. It just gives you that extra, push, that extra energy to want to work a bit harder and make that extra run, not only for your teammates, but them as well. You could just feel the energy; it was so surreal. It’s just an amazing experience, to be honest.”

Added Dennis, who tallied the first goal in the opening half: “It looked crowded. They’re into the game. Afterwards there was a nice reception for the players. Hopefully, they will keep on coming and we’ll keep on entertaining.”