Danny Szetela: “We have to be patient with the ball and try to force them out from sitting in too deep and when we get our chances.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
How quickly time flies.
The New York Cosmos reach the midway point of their NPSL Members Cup schedule when they host the Michigan Stars at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Saturday at 7 p.m.
They find themselves atop the league with a 3-0-1 mark and 10 points in the 10-game season.
“I think throughout the whole year we’ve been pretty good group,” forward Aly Hassan said. “I can’t really think of any time where we felt apart really. There have been results that have not gone our way, but as a team we’ve been a team that has stuck together through good and the bad. I like where we’re at right now.”
The Cosmos haven’t dropped a regular-season game the past two years in National Premier Soccer League and Members Cup competition with an impressive and near perfect 26-0-2 mark. They also are 14-0-2 during that span.
“We haven’t reached our full potential, which means we still have some room to grow for the final push of the season, which I think is good,” Hassan said. “We’re at a good point. We just have to take care of business. Every game from this point on is a final for us and we’ve got to treat it like that.”
This will be the second meeting between the Cosmos and the Stars (0-1-1, 1). In their first encounter, the Cosmos recorded a 2-0 win at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich. on Aug. 31.
“Against them, we had a lot of space,” team captain Danny Szetela said. “We had some chances in the first half and some in the second half. With them, we have to be patient. We have to sit back a little bit. We have to be patient with the ball and try to force them out from sitting in too deep and when we get our chances. We have to put the ball into the back of the net.”
After recording 47 goals in 14 regular-season NPSL matches the Cosmos have scored six times in their four Members Cup encounters.
“Maybe we’re not scoring as much, but obviously that will come,” forward Aaron Dennis said.
Dennis, fresh off a one and an international goal for the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Concacaf Nations League, has not forgotten the 2-2 home draw with the Milwaukee Torrent on Aug. 17, one of the rare “stains” on the team’s regular-season record.
“Draws like that at home for me personally, feels like a loss,” he said. “Ten minutes left, up two-nil, you definitely think the game is sealed at that point. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from that. But definitely, when we’re winning games. we definitely have to remain focused, keep our focus within the last 10 minutes.”
“Every team is out to beat us,” he said. “We have a huge target on our backs and we’re going to have to be extra careful on decisions that we’re making in the games and again close these games out like we should. We’re good enough to put teams away and shut teams out. We need to hold ourselves accountable to that every game.”
Szetela was rested for the Napa Valley match but was expected to be ready to go on Saturday.
“We have a big roster,” he said. “Carlos wanted to give some minutes to some guys. He asked me if I wanted to rest and we made a decision to rest this game and be ready to go this week.”