Paul Blanchette (in the red): “We have four guys who can jump into a match and give the team a great chance to win.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
HARTFORD, Conn. — While the Cosmos’ goalscorers have garnered a lot of the attention and headlines during their unbeaten run in the National Premier Soccer League this season, their success also has been buoyed by a talented quartet of goalkeepers.
Yes, that’s correct — four goalkeepers.
In fact, all four players have seen action this season in less than a month; the Cosmos’ NPSL season kicked off on April 27.
And what might have been even more impressive, was that all four keepers played during the team’s recent four games in nine-day stretch. That quartet included Santiago Castano, Jesse Corke, Kevin Tenjo, and Paul Blanchette.
Castano guarded the goal for the 5-0 home win over Boston City FC on May 11 and then for the 2-1 defeat in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup on Tuesday, May 14. Tenjo and Corke split the duties for the 7-1 victory at the Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds on Friday, May 17 before and Blanchette found himself in the net on Sunday.
“We have four guys who can jump into a match and give the team a great chance to win,” said Blanchette, who backstopped the Cosmos’ 2-0 victory at Hartford City FC on Sunday. “It’s not normal, but it’s great. I love these guys. We all get along. We want to see each other get better. It’s great.”
Just as impressive was that the Cosmos have not conceded a goal from the run of play; the lone score was via a penalty kick in a 7-1 victory at Greater Lowell.
“It’s the whole team,” Blanchette said. “Everyone’s putting their shift in defensively, not leaving many gaps. We’re suffocating teams up top. and having a good attack helps not getting scored on.
The Cosmos have recorded four clean sheets this season, with Blanchette having a pair, including the 2-0 win at Kingston Stockade FC on May 4.
“It’s all about winning,” he said. “I want to win the games. I don’t care if I get scored on as long as we’re winning games, getting three points. That’s what’s it’s all about. That’s why I’m here.”
With the Cosmos leading 1-0 in the 65th minute on Sunday, Blanchette faced one dangerous and close encounter, when Hartford City’s Mark Grant shot from point-blank range.
“Matt [Lewis] got into a tough spot, made a decision,” he said. “The guy got a lucky touch. He got in. He did well to get a good space. He should have scored. We were lucky enough to get away with one there and win the game.”
When asked to pick a player on the back line who stood out on Sunday, Blanchette admitted it was difficult, given the foursome’s fine all-around performance. He had Emmanuele Sembroni and Lewis at center back, Ansi Agolli at left back, and Kevin Venegas at right back in front of him.
“It’s the entire back line,” he said. “Everyone was solid. Everyone was keeping it simple. Everyone’s been on their marks well. There’s no worries, no stress. We’re all composed and feeling good about ourselves. Just keep it going.”
Next up for the Cosmos is an international friendly against FC St. Pauli (Germany) at Rocco B. Commisso Stadium in New York City Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s exciting,” Blanchette said. “The first international [home] match for the Cosmos in a long time. It’s a great opportunity to play against a great team. The whole squad is looking forward to it.”
Their next NPSL home match will be against Hartford City FC at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. Saturday, June 1, at 8 p.m.