Aaron Dennis: “This is the first one [championship game] I’ve played in since I turned pro, so I am super excited.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — After sitting out the National Premier Soccer League semifinal due to a one-game suspension, Elmont, N.Y. native Aaron Dennis is eager to get back into action in the championship game this weekend.
The New York Cosmos forward and his teammates will meet Miami FC for the title at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“This is the first one [championship game] I’ve played in since I turned pro, so I am super excited,” Dennis said. “It’s against my former club, so I want to do well.”
Dennis played with Miami FC when the club competed in the North American Soccer League in 2016-17.
The former Elmont High School standout said that getting an opportunity to play for a championship is “going to mean a lot.”
“We have to put the work in for the week,” he added. “I’m excited. It’s going to be my first final. Can’t ask for anything else.”
The two best teams in the NPSL will face off on Saturday. The unbeaten Cosmos (16-0-1) were No. 1 in the league’s regular-season power rankings, while Miami FC (13-1-0) was right behind them at No. 2.
“With what happened to that league [NASL], for us to be in the NPSL and make it to the final, I think that says a lot about the two organizations,” Dennis said. “So being on Miami and the Cosmos, they’ve got our number in the past. Now that I’m on the Cosmos side, hopefully that luck can continue for us.”
Miami FC has had quite turnover since Dennis performed with that club.
“There are may be three, four guys there since the time I left,” he said. “New coach, a whole new staff. So, it’s a completely different team.”
Still a team with plenty of quality.
“As an organization, they did well to bring in, good, high quality players,” he said.
Dennis was red carded for fighting with Khalid Balogun in the 90th minute of the Cosmos’ 3-1 quarterfinal win over FC Baltimore on July 21.
He admitted it was difficult not playing in the semifinal.
“It was tough, mentally,” he said. “I should have kept my cool. I was just happy the team was able to get the win and I’ll be able to play on Saturday.”
His conduct surprised many observers because Dennis is such a laid-back person.
“I like to be laid back when I’m off the field,” he said. “I take my soccer super serious. When i was out there, I felt there was a dirty challenge made on me. I definitely over-reacted a bit. I’ve also dealt with my injury. When people come in a bit reckless, it’s a bit bothersome.”
Winning a championship definitely will make Dennis forget all about that.