Salvatore Barone had a strong game at defensive midfield for the Cosmos. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)

The Cosmos learned a couple of harsh lessons in their 2-2 draw with the Milwaukee Torrent on Saturday night.

They were reminded that a game isn’t over until the referee’s final whistle and that they must find a way to finish off a game.

In their first NPSL Members Cup home game, the Cosmos conceded two goals in the final two minutes, allowing Milwaukee to rally while losing two valuable home points. The result left both sides with 1-0-1 records and four points.

“Obviously disappointing stuff,” Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said. “After being in control and up two-nil, to give up goals like that pretty much in a five-minute span, is a tough one. But it’s a learning lesson. We didn’t kill off the game. We got too casual.”

Center back Emmanuele Sembroni, who captained the team with midfielder Danny Szetela starting the match on the bench, agreed.

“Definitely there was something missing from us in those five minutes,” he said. So that’s an experience well have to grow through. This makes you grow, makes you become a better player. You have to act like a man and move forward. It sucks, it’s disappointing, but that’s soccer. We’ve got to grow from it.”

It’s all about keeping focus, which Mendes felt his team lost in the waning minutes at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y.

“It’s about mentality and the little details,” he said. “We got too involved with the little things, with the referees and all these things. You lose focus. You can’t have a window where you give up a goal. You can’t have a breakdown as a team and give up a second goal. It kind of fell apart. It’s tough. We have to learn from this and hopefully improve and mature.”

Sembroni added: “Especially when you have the game under control, you always have to have your attention at 110 percent, and you cannot drop. As you can see, as soon we dropped in those five minutes, they got two goals. It was unfortunate. You’ve got to have a mentality and understand that you cannot leave anything to the other team.”

Asked how he and the team will get the game out of their system, Mendes replied, “Everyone has to look at themselves. I starts with me on what we can do better and go from there. The good thing about this game is that we’ve got another chance in two weeks.”

The Cosmos will have this weekend off before visiting the Michigan Stars on Saturday, Aug. 31 at p.m. They return home to Mitchel to welcome Napa Valley 1839 FC on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.

“It’s a short season,” Mendes said. “We said every point matters. Now we’ll make sure from here on, even games on the road, you have to pick up points. We’ll have to be ready. We’re looking forward to it.”

One bright spot for the Cosmos was the performance of Salvatore Barone at defensive midfielder. He played a physical game, making life difficult for many Milwaukee players while breaking up attacks on a constant basis.

“Sal’s a little more a defensive-minded center mid,” Mendes said. “He covers a lot of ground, does a lot of work for us. He did well, proud of the game he played.”

Sembroni downplayed his role as captain for the match.

“It’s ordinary,” he said. “Danny wasn’t on today. I had to subbed for him. It was an honor for me to represent such a prestigious club and my teammates. Nothing has changed. You have the captain, who is the leader, and you have other leaders and personalities.”

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at