Danny Szetela: “Confidence is flying high and we’re going to get three points.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Talk about going from a famine to a feast.
When the New York Cosmos take the field against Hartford City FC at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Saturday at 8 p.m., it will be almost two weeks since they last participated in a league match.
That was against the same Hartford City side that the Cosmos defeated, 2-0, in Connecticut on May 19.
Since that match the Cosmos haven’t had a National Premier Soccer League game in 12 days, although they met FC St. Pauli (Germany) in their first international friendly at home since 1985.
And to make matters more complicated, the Cosmos will play at the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island on Sunday, June 2.
No worries, says head coach Carlos Mendes.
“We don’t need motivation,” he said. “These are two big league games, an important weekend. We kew what is at stake. We knew it was going to be a busy schedule. So, the team has been focused. We had a good week in training, and we need to be prepared against a club team [Saturday] that is organized. It wasn’t easy for us when we played them there away.”
Charlie Ledula and Bledi Bardic scored second-half goals in that game in Hartford, Conn. as goalkeeper Paul Blanchette recorded the shutout.
“The first half of that game we were a little slow,” Cosmos captain Danny Szetela said. “Then the second half was lot better. I think playing at home with the atmosphere, we’re going to come out ready right away and hopefully put the game away early.”
Added Mendes: “The first half of that game we were a little slow. Then the second half was lot better. I think playing at home with the atmosphere, we’re going to come out ready right away and hopefully put the game away early.”
The Cosmos enter the game atop the North Atlantic Conference with a perfect 5-0-0 mark and 15 points, while outscoring their opposition, 18-1. They haven’t given up a goal during the run of play as the lone score was via a penalty kick.
Hartford City FC (2-3-2, 8 points) sit in fifth place in the eight-team conference. They have scored 17 goals and surrendered 14.
“They’re a good team,” Szetela said. “They’re the most organized team we’ve played so far. Them being organized hasn’t been something we’ve seen much in the league so far. We’re ready, we’re excited, coming off the win against Pauli. Confidence is flying high and we’re going to get three points.”
The Cosmos won’t have much time to catch their collective breaths as they visit NYAC (1-3-1, 4) on Travers Island in New York City at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Not surprisingly, Mendes has so much confidence in the team’s depth that he will use another rotation again, so there will be fresh bodies on the field.
“We said all week that guys are going to have opportunities to play to make a difference,” he said. “When you have back-to-back games, you’ve got to manage that very carefully.”
Mendes said that he will decide on who plays on Sunday after Saturday’s match.
“See how the first game goes, what players play how many minutes,” he said. “Then we’ll make a decision for Sunday. Of course, everybody is going to contribute, and guys will be ready.”
After this weekend’s games, the Cosmos will play three consecutive matches on the road at the Brooklyn Italians on June 8, at Boston City FC on June 15 and then at the Rhode Island Reds FC on June 16.
They return to Mitchel to start a four-game homestand against the Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds on June 23 at 8 p.m.