Ansi Agolli set up both goals in the Cosmos’ latest win. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Behind just about every goal there usually is someone who created it.
Like it or not, the goal-scorer gets most if not all the adulation. Not so much for the set-up man.
Ansi Agolli, however, showed his class once again for the Cosmos in their 2-0 victory over the Michigan Stars last Saturday night. The Albanian international set up both of Isaac Acuna’s goals in two distinctly different ways in the NPSL Members Cup match at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y.
On the first one, the Cosmos defender-midfielder looped in a cross toward the net that the onrushing Acuna knocked into the net for the first of his two goals in the 23rd minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
What made the play much more impressive is that Agolli’s stronger foot is his left. He switched the ball to his right foot and sent the ball towards the net.
“The right foot is not my best foot, so, I tried to give a half cross,” he said. “I was in the right place at the right moment. The important thing is that we scored. Who scored is not so important.”
Agolli realized that Cosmos foes probably all too well know about his talented left foot.
“Now, opposing teams before the game they look at videos,” he said. “I tried to do my best to close our space. Many times I cross with my left so I have to go inside. So, it was good. Every game I try to make different options.”
Speaking of options, Agolli’s assist on the second score was nowhere near the first. While on the left flank in the 87th minute, he noticed an open Acuna on the right side of the penalty area. So, he floated in a cross that Acuna trapped and drilled into the net for a vital insurance goal.
“We do this often,” Agolli said. “Left cross, two-touch and a score. We had many chances. We still have to work about this because we have to close [out] the game.”
Asked about how the season was going for him, the humbles Agolli instead talked about the team. Typical, typical Agolli.
“I don’t know. I try to give myself,” he said. “How the team goes is more important. Of course, I try to help the team, but how the team goes is more important.
“It was a good game, a good result for us. Not the best game, but a good result.”
Not surprisingly, head coach Carlos Mendes has liked what he has seen from Agolli.
“He has been fantastic for us,” he said. “Getting forward and giving us not only crosses but finding pockets and opening up space for our center mids and drawing [players] and things like that. He has been excellent. So, he’s played at a top level. He’s shown it. He has been a big part of our success.”
The addition of the 36-year-old to the Cosmos has been more important that just goals and assists. His leadership qualities have been vital to the success of the team, which captured the National Premier Soccer League regular-season title with an undefeated season (13-0-1) before losing in the final to Miami FC. The Cosmos are 4-0-1 in the Members Cup.
Agolli, who played in the UEFA Champions League and at Euro 2016, was capped 73 times by the Albanian national team and also captained the side.
“He’s brought mentality, he’s brought experience,” Mendes said, adding that Agolli shows “what it means to be a professional day in and day out. Guys, let’s say they’re starting their first year as a pro or looking to have long careers, he sets the example. He has been fantastic for us in terms of our attack. Whether there’s training or games, he always wants to win. He’s always pushing the level and that’s important from a leader.”
The first-place Cosmos (13 points) will visit second-place Detroit City FC (3-0-0, 9) in a top of the table clash at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtranck, Mich. Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The team returns home to host Chattanooga FC in its penultimate Members Cup home game at Mitchel Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.