Several players got some serious minutes as the Cosmos played their third of four games during a nine-day span.
Forward Aly Alberto Hassan scored his first two goals of the National Premier Soccer League match. Goalkeepers Kevin Tenjo and Jesse Corke played their first games of the season as they each participated in a half. Armando Guarnera got his first start of the season at center back and central defender Garrett Halfhill, who broke his right wrist in the preseason, played in the second half.
“Garrett, great to have him back. his first 45, getting him into a rhythm,” head coach Carlos Mendes said. “He did well.”
In fact, Mendes was quite enthused about everyone’s performance
“It shows the quality that we have,” he said. “We’re relying on everybody and guys are stepping in and doing a good job. It’s very, very important and I’m happy. And now we’ve got to look forward to Sunday.”
That’s when the Cosmos play at Hartford City FC at Central Connecticut University in Hartford, Conn., at 4 p.m. But, first let’s focus on the impressive Friday performance.
“This team didn’t skip a beat with a lot of new faces in, a lot of new guys playing a lot of minutes,” said Hassan, who tallied his first two goals of the season in the second half. “I think it just shows the depth that we have, the character this team has. We’re all on the same page. We want to win and we’re competitive. That’s what makes a successful team.”
Charlie Ledula, who scored twice in the opening half to propel New York to a 3-0 halftime lead, felt that depth gave the team an advantage over many foes because the side has so many different looks.
“It’s pretty much scary in a good way, a positive way, scary because it makes it difficult for teams to play with us,” said Ledula, who leads the team with four NPSL goals. “It also shows we’re not just one direct team. It shows we’ve a lot of creativity and it causes problems on other teams as well. So, that’s a very positive side to have that kind of different personality on the field and different kind of skill.”
As for versatility, David Diosa, who started the 5-0 home win over Boston City FC on May 11 at left fullback, demonstrated that with a strong performance at left midfield. Pedro Galvao, who also has continued to show his versatility to play across the back line, had an impact offensively. He was taken down in the box to set up Junior Burgos’ penalty kick, which gave New York a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
“Anywhere we put them, they’ve been a big help,” Mendes said.
Only four games into the NPSL season, Mendes has pulled off a rarity, if not a first. All four goalkeepers have seen action. Santiago Castano and Paul Blanchette are the other ‘keepers.
“We said at the beginning of the year that people are going to get their opportunity,” Mendes said. “We trust our keepers. We trust our players. They have a chance to prove themselves. With such a busy schedule we said we were going to take everybody and play.”
The first-place Cosmos (4-0-0, 12 points) enter the match against Hartford City FC (2-1-1, 7) with a goal differential of plus 15, having outscored their opposition by a 16-1 margin. They have tallied a dozen goals in their past two North Atlantic Conference matches.
Mendes attributed that to the team’s depth.
“We’re confident,” Mendes said. “We have to continue build on the things that we’re doing well. There’s still some more to do, but we’re very happy.”
Added Hassan after Friday’s game: “Having depth makes a big difference and hopefully we put out another performance like this one.”
It will be the Cosmos’ second game against as many foes in Hartford in five days, having lost to Hartford Athletic (USL Championship) in the second round of the Lamar Hunt Open Cup on Tuesday, 2-1.
“I’m excited,” Ledula said. “We have to stay focused and I’m sure we’ll be fine. It’s just having to stay focused and having the same mentality.”