Aaron Dennis: “Obviously, it was good for me to score to get my confidence back. It has been a little while. That was definitely necessary for myself coming back here. I want to continue to score.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Aaron Dennis returned home from his latest Caribbean sojourn with a win and another international goal under his belt.
The Elmont, N.Y. native scored the first goal for the U.S. Virgin Islands in its 2-1 win over host Saint Martin in a Concacaf Nations League match last Sunday. That followed a 2-0 home loss to the Cayman Islands on Thursday, Sept. 5. The Nations League is the qualifying arm for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“The three points was decent,” the Cosmos forward said. “I think we definitely could have gotten some more.”
Dennis felt the USVI had a missed opportunity to win both games and secure six points. As it is, the Dashing Eagle is in third place in the four-team League C Group A with a 1-1-0 record.
“It was really disappointing because I think on Thursday against the Cayman Islands we actually played better than we did on Sunday against Saint Martin,” he said. “We had some changes that we probably should have put away early. We let them stay in the game and that’s what happens when you allow teams stay in the game. They punished us for it. We made two mistakes and we got punished for it.”
The 26-year-old Dennis verbally kicked himself because he had come close to scoring.
“I hit the post in the first half when it was 0-0,” he said. “I had another chance after that. The keeper made a decent save but I probably should have done better as well.”
One positive for the side was that the U.S. Virgin Islands competed on its new field at Bethlehem Stadium in St. Croix for the first time.
“It was good, it was good,” Dennis said. “It was nice. We were able to move the ball better. The field in Anguilla [where the team played before] wasn’t as good. In honesty, it was pretty bad. We had a much better performance as a team [Thursday].”
Still, Dennis made up for those close encounters by connecting in the third minute against Saint Martin.
Prior to the kickoff, Dennis did his homework on the USVI’s foes, talking strategy with a wing.
“We watched video from Thursday’s match and then we watched video on the Saint Martin game,” he said. “I identified a weakness. So, I spoke to the winger and he did exactly as I told him, and I was in on goal.
“Yes, of course, it worked out.”
The 6-2, 180-lb. Dennis has scored several early or opening goals for club and country this year.
Just being hungry, just being hungry in the box,” he said. “Getting in the box and having the service.”
Getting a goal for one’s country certainly helps one’s confidence, especially for a forward.
“I think it’s always good,” Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said. “That’s something for us. It’s all about confidence and if you get that early goal, it is key. It not only helps the player, but the team.
“He has done well. He has confidence. When he’s flying, when he’s tuned into a game, he’s a very dangerous player physically. He has a lot of attributes, always hungry. He can punish teams. We’ll rely on him these last couple of weeks and whether its off the bench or starting a game. He can make a difference.”
Added Dennis: “Obviously, it was good for me to score to get my confidence back. It has been a little while. That was definitely necessary for myself coming back here. I want to continue to score.”
The Cosmos (3-0-1, 10 points), who are atop the NPSL Members Cup, host the Michigan Stars at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Regardless how the rest of the Members Cup season transpires, Dennis will have another opportunity in the Nations Cup when the USVI takes on Barbados on Oct. 15.
“Hopefully guys do their work over the next couple of weeks and they’re ready for Barbados next month,” Dennis said.