“I’m looking forward to playoffs now after having a near-perfect regular season. Hopefully we can win the whole thing. That’s our goal, but we have to take it game by game. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Bledi Bardic remembers the pain, physically and emotionally.

He pulled a hamstring muscle in the New York Cosmos’ first playoff game last year, which forced the striker to miss the rest of the postseason. Without the prolific striker in the lineup, the Cosmos eventually were eliminated during their quest for the National Premier Soccer League title in the quarterfinals.

“Last year was great season,” said Bardic, who tallied a team-best 12 goals in 11 games. “Unfortunately, I had an injury, which is normal for every soccer player. But for me the injury came at a bad time. Definitely it was tough for me not to be able to play but just watch my teammates.”

This year he plans to make up for his lost time when the Cosmos host the rival Brooklyn Italians in the North Atlantic Conference final at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

“Health-wise, I feel good thank God,” he said. “I didn’t have any problems this season.”

Bardic led the Cosmos with 10 league goals and two in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“Last year’s team was good,” he said. “Obviously this year with team competing in the Founders Cup and everyone being professional the level of the team is much higher.”

The Founders Cup will begin for the Cosmos in August.

They have some unfinished business in the playoffs, and Bardic likes the Cosmos’ chances. They finished the regular season with a near-perfect 13-0-1 mark

“I’m looking forward to playoffs now after having a near-perfect regular season,” he said. “Hopefully we can win the whole thing that’s our goal, but we have to take it game by game.

“Obviously I want to win badly and I’m pretty sure everyone in this team feels the same way, no doubt about that,” he said.

The Cosmos expect a difficult match from the Italians. They went 1-0-1 against Brooklyn, winning 4-1 at the Met Oval on June 8 before playing to a scoreless draw at home on July 3.

“They are a very good team, organized and physical,” he said. “They have some good players. It’s a good challenge for us but we as a team are ready and excited about this match.”

In that 4-1 result, Bardic put on a one-man scoring show with a first-half hat-trick.

“We definitely played a great game and we finished our chances,” he said. “That was key and hopefully we finish our chances on Wednesday as well.”

To date, Bardic said his most memorable moments this season probably was scoring the winning goal against Black Rock FC in the Open Cup and the Brooklyn hat-trick.

But he thought the best was yet to come.

“I’m excited for the rest of the NPSL playoffs and the Founders Cup,” Bardic said.

“This Cosmos team is special because of a lot of things, because of our owner Rocco B. Commisso, our vice president Joe Barone, our coaching staff and players. It’s a pleasure to be part of this club and wear this jersey.”