Bledi Bardic: “I knew goals were going to come for me. I was patient. That’s football. Every day is not going to be perfect or pretty. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
NEW YORK — Even when he was going through a bit of a personal scoring drought earlier this season, Bledi Bardic never lost faith.
“I knew goals were going to come for me,” the Cosmos striker said. “I was patient. That’s football. Every day is not going to be perfect or pretty. But you have to keep working hard, keep believing in your abilities, believe in your teammates coaches and good things will happen.”
Good things are happening for Bardic lately. No, make that great things.
He has rediscovered his scoring touch and then some. Combining his 30-minute hat-trick in the Cosmos’ 4-1 victory over the Brooklyn Italians on Saturday night with his goal in the 2-0 at New York Athletic Club, Bardic tallied four times during a 41-minute span.
For the season, Bardic has eight goals, six in the league, two in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Last year he struck for 12 goals in 11 games before a hamstring injury sidelined the forward for the rest of the playoffs.
“I think he’s building confidence,” Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said. “Any time a striker scores, the confidence is growing. He put himself in good spots [vs. Brooklyn], made a lot of great runs that got him in good situations, and he was able to finish it.”
Bardic had one of his best half hours of his career, finding the net in the fourth, 17th and 30th minutes at the Metropolitan Oval as the first-place Cosmos (8-0-0, 24 points) moved closer to clinching a North Atlantic Conference playoff berth.
“Every goal I scored was the hard work of the team and understanding we have in each other,” he said. “I was lucky enough to have three and help my team win. That’s what matters.”
In 2018, the Italians were one of the team top nemeses, but the Cosmos put themselves into another gear.
“The difference this game was the attitude,” Bardic said. “We went into this game knowing it will be a tough one and we didn’t want let up anything cheap. We knew if we played our football we would win.
“This was best first half of the season for sure, 4-0 up in 30 minutes but against Hartford Athletic we played great too and we lost [in the Open Cup]. We have strong squad, but we want show it in a day in and day out.”
The Cosmos have won 18 consecutive regular season matches since the start of the 2018 National Premier Soccer League season.
“It shows the quality and depth of this team but everyone who knows Cosmos knows this team is about trophies,” Bardic said. “Our goal is to win what’s left for us after being eliminated from an important competition, the U.S. Open Cup.”
There’s the NPSL championships, with playoffs beginning in July. And then there’s the inaugural NPSL Founders Cup, which kicks off in August.
Like many strikers, Bardic usually doesn’t look behind, but rather ahead.
After a day’s rest, he was ready to return to training to prepare for a pair of back-to-back road matches. The Cosmos play at Boston City FC at 7 p.m. Saturday before tussling at the Rhode Island Reds at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Because the games are scheduled within 24 hours, Bardic doesn’t expect to start both matches. But he is confident his teammates are more than capable of picking up the load.
“We will be prepared,” he said. “I’m sure everyone will travel and will be ready to step up and get the job done.”
Those contests will end the Cosmos’ four-game swing as they return to Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. to meet the Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds on Sunday, June 23 at 8 p.m. for the first of four games to close out the regular season.