Danny Szetela on Boston City FC: “It’s going to be a tough game,” Szetela said. “They’re going to come out fighting. We’re going to have to match their intensity to get the three points, hopefully clinch a playoff spot.”
NEW YORK — The Cosmos find themselves on the brink of clinching a spot in the National Premier Soccer League playoffs this weekend.
If they produce wins in their back-to-back contests in New England, the undefeated North Atlantic Conference leaders (8-0-0, 24 points) will book postseason berth with four matches remaining in the 14-game regular season.
The Cosmos visit Boston City FC (1-7-2, 5) at Hormel Stadium in Medford, Mass. on Saturday at 7 p.m. and then Rhode Island Reds FC (3-4-1, 9) at Johnston High School in Johnston, R.I. on Sunday at 5 p.m. Rhode Island is coming off a 1-0 home win over New York Athletic Club on Friday night.
“Obviously, you’ve put yourself in a good spot if you’re clinching the playoffs before the season’s done,” head coach Carlos Mendes said. “That’s something that would be a good accomplishment, but we have to focus one game at a time. Two difficult matches back to back. We’ll worry about that. We’ll worry about Boston first. We’ll see at the end of the weekend if we’ve gotten six points and clinched.”
If the Cosmos win twice, they will take a giant step toward securing the conference crown and home field advantage in the playoffs. They are atop the league-wide power rankings, thanks to their perfect record. If they run the table, they would earn home-field advantage during the playoffs, conference and national games.
“Obviously, that’s a big thing,” Mendes said. “If we do clinch the playoffs then well focus on continuing to improve and clinch the home field. We want to play here in front of our fans at home. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s one game at a time.”
Team captain Danny Szetela is focused on Saturday’s encounter. Since the last time the Cosmos faced Boston City FC — a 5-0 home win on May 11– the team has switched head coaches, firing Michael Bustamante and replacing him with assistants Cesar Deossa and Roberto Mazzinghy.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Szetela said. “They’re going to come out fighting. We’re going to have to match their intensity to get the three points, hopefully clinch a playoff spot.”
This is the first time this year that the Cosmos will play two games on the road within 24 hours. During the weekend of June 1-2, the team played back-to-back games, but one was at home.
“These games are always difficult,” Mendes said. “We’re going to need everyone this weekend to get the job done.”
Once again, Mendes will use a rotation so that just about every field player, if not everyone, will see action without running anyone into the ground.
“It’s a challenge,” he said. “We have confidence in everybody, guys who have stepped in and gotten the job done. This week is no different. Everyone’s going to have to contribute. Guys are going to have to play. The exciting part is that people have gotten the opportunities to prove themselves making our decision to move forward difficult, which is a good thing.”
Beyond the club’s perfect record, the team has improved as the season has progressed.
“Everyone’s confidence is high,” Szetela said. “We’re playing better possession-wise. Everyone’s getting to know each other more. I think that’s a step forward. We need to keep working the next few games we have and get better as a team.”
The Cosmos are coming off what Mendes said was the squad’s most complete performance in a 4-1 triumph past the Brooklyn Italians at the Metropolitan Oval last Saturday.
“We definitely played very well against Brooklyn,” Szetela said. “Small field, but we played both played on the same field. At the end of the day, it’s better for us, the style that we play, keeping the ball, and creating the opportunities. We just have to continue to put in the work and take it one game at a time. It starts against Boston.”
After this weekend’s matches, the Cosmos return home to close out the regular season with four successive games at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y.
They welcome the Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds on June 23 at 8 p.m., Rhode Island on June 30 at 5 p.m., Brooklyn Italians on July 3 at 8 p.m. and Kingston Stockade FC on July 6 at 7 p.m.