Aly Hassan and David Diosa celebrate one of the former’s goals. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Cosmos had just put the finishing touches of their 5-1 home win over Hartford City FC on Saturday night before their thoughts turned to their next opponent and challenge less than 24 hours later.
The North Atlantic Conference leaders (6-0-0, 18 points) will visit the sixth-place New York Athletic Club (1-3-1) on Travers Island in New Rochelle, N.Y. on Sunday at 5 p.m.
“We have to eat, rest, hydrate, ice,” said forward Aly Hassan, who finished with two goals. “You have to take care of your body because it’s a quick turnaround. Straight back to it in a few hours.”
Players usually need at least one day to recover to get back to full training, not 19 hours.
“It’s really hard to recover from one day to the next,” said midfielder Junior Burgos, whose third free kick of the National Premier Soccer League season broke a 1-1 tie. “It’s not right. I don’t think we should be playing back-to-back games. That’s the way the league is set up.”
“The best thing to do is to recover, to rest,” said midfielder Ricardo Bocanegra, who scored his first goal as a Cosmos, a second-half penalty kick at Mitchel Athletic Complex. “Everyone did the ice bath today, a method to help us recover faster.”
Prior to the weekend, head coach Carlos Mendes has said he was going to rotate his players so no one would be run into the ground.
“We have a deep roster,” Burgos said. “We have a lot of guys who are fresh. We just have to rotate the players.”
Mendes hasn’t revealed his plans for NYAC, saying that he would decide before Sunday’s encounter.
“I’ll be ready whether the coach needs me as a starter or as a sub,” Bocanegra said through a translator.
For the first time this NPSL season, an opponent scored first on the Cosmos, forcing them to play catch-up.
“There are going to be moments when we’re going to be down in the game,” Burgos said. “This is our first time. The most important part was the response of the team. We knew we needed to concentrate a bit more, focus and try to take our chances that we’re getting before the goals came.”
It was all about not panicking and the Cosmos playing their game.
“I was very calm,” Bocanegra said. “I wanted to be contagious to the team, to transmit that message to let them know we needed to stay calm. I have faith in the group i knew that we have a good team that we were going to come back and win it.”
“We didn’t panic,” he said. “It’s a long game. We had to keep our composure. We know when we’re doing things the right way, we can turn the game around.”
Bocanegra, who spearheads the attack with his playmaking skills, scored his first goal as a Cosmos in the 63rd minute Saturday night.
“It’s a really special moment for me, my first goal as a Cosmos player,” he said. “I thank the team to give me the confidence to step up and take the penalty. Most importantly, it’s not just about the goal, but because we got the win. I hope it’s the first one of many.”