Bledi Bardic has struck on two long-range strikes this season. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
The National Premier Soccer League doesn’t award a goal of the week honor, at least not yet, but if it did, Bledi Bardic’s strike in the Cosmos’ 2-0 win at the New York Athletic Club on Sunday certainly would be a candidate.
Bardic came off the bench and drilled a 28-yard shot into the upper right corner to snap a scoreless tie on Travers Island.
It was an impressive blast, reminding observers of his wonder goal against Hartford Athletic in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup last month. That 35-yard blast was named the goal of the second round by U.S. Soccer.
His most recent golazo wasn’t too shabby, either.
“Incredible goal,” said Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes, who added that the NYAC goal was close to Bardic’s other long-range tally. “Hartford might have been a little further out.
“The way he hit it, it was tailing away. Another great goal, made a difference for us. Gave us a boost off the bench, the way we needed it. Guys have been doing it all year, whether it was Bledi or guys stepping in to get us goals. That’s a good sign. That’s very important. It gave the team confidence and changed the game.”
Asked to compare his two long-range goals, Bardic said that Open Cup strike would be difficult to duplicate.
“Hartford, I probably wouldn’t score a goal like that in my life,” he said.
Soccer can be a strange game. In the Cosmos’s 5-1 home win over Hartford City FC on Saturday night, Bardic played 62 minutes and failed to score. On Sunday, he made almost an immediate impact after coming on for Joey Sanchez in the 61st minute. It was Bardic’s third NPSL goal of the season and five across all competitions.
“That’s soccer,” Bardic said. “Sometimes you score today, you don’t score today, you get another one tomorrow. That’s how it is. You can’t always score. As long as my team wins, goals are secondary.”
Bardic wasn’t the only substitute who made an impact. Playmaking midfielder Ricardo Bocanegra came off the bench in the 67th minute, replacing Giuseppe Barone, and scored an insurance goal in the 86th minute.
“Boca can hit it. He can hit it well with both feet,” Mendes said. “He’s clever. He puts himself in the right areas. With his experience, he knows where the ball is going to land. He’s another player that changed the game when he came in. He can hurt a team a lot of ways.”
The Cosmos played and won their second game in less than 24 hours. The had an eight o’clock kick off on Saturday night. The NYAC match began at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Mendes used only two starters from the previous night as he rotated his lineup, keeping most of Saturday’s starters in reserve on the bench.
Players usually use the day after a game to recover, not to play more soccer.
“It was a tough game, playing back to back in less than 24 hours,” Bardic said. “It was a tough game. waking up in the morning. We didn’t have time to rest. Obviously, we have a deep squad. Some guys played, other guys rested. It was tough, but we got the three points. That’s what matters when you play back-to-back games in two days.”
The Cosmos will play three consecutive matches on the road at the Brooklyn Italians on Saturday, June 8, at Boston City FC on June 15 and then at the Rhode Island Reds FC on June 16.
They return to Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. to start a four-game homestand against the Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds on June 23 at 8 p.m.