Shavon John-Brown: “I’m trying to fit in with the team training wise, and playing a game is totally different.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Due to a delay in the arrival of his International Transfer Certificate, forward Shavon John-Brown could not get any playing time with his new team, the Cosmos, only an opportunity to train with the squad in practice.
So, getting a chance to play in a game was vital to the Grenada international.
“It’s been awhile since I played a game for the club team, because from the move I didn’t get cleared from Germany,” John-Brown said. “It was just national team. I’m trying to fit in with the team training wise, and playing a game is totally different.”
No doubt that John-Brown made the most of his opportunity in the Cosmos’ 4-0 scrimmage win over Contour United (United Premier Soccer League) on Wednesday, scoring only 26 seconds after kickoff.
“Shavon, it was great to see,” Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said. “He was on his national team, a little bit of an injury with the national team. Getting him back in at game speed to see him again was very good.”
And for other Cosmos players as well who saw serious action for the first time in quite a while. Given the National Premier Soccer League playoffs in July and August and the start of the NPSL Members Cup season, which has only one game a week, it has been difficult to get every player into matches.
So, the Cosmos decided to set a scrimmage up with Contour United.
It had many of the trappings of a league match. It was played at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. with referees and linesmen.
“It is very important for some players that haven’t played as much minutes as other players,” assistant coach Luis Gutierrez said. “They need to be in other games with referees making a decision like all the games.”
It’s one thing to participate in a practice scrimmage, where many sessions are less than 90 minutes and against teammates. It’s altogether different to play against a team that has much to prove and has a different style.
“Its something totally different to what training is,” said center back Armando Guarnera, who played the entire 90 minutes. “Everything is fast, especially in a game.”
Right back Dominick Falanga, who also played from the opening kickoff to the final whistle, agreed.
“When you get a chance against any team, you always want to perform,” he said. “Games, when you can get minutes is important for a lot of things — confidence, fitness, match fitness. So, it’s just always be ready when that chance comes. Whatever the case may be, I’m here for the team completely.”
Players must be match fit on two levels — physical and mental.
“Mentally, it’s just as important as physical because you have to be totally into everything,” Guarnera said. “Let’s say we have the ball, we lose it. You’ve got to be locked in. “It’s just a chance to prove myself and prove to the coaches. I’m one of the youngest on the team. I’ve got to work my way up. A stepping stone is what it is.”
About that John-Brown’s goal. Striker Aaron Dennis, who added a goal himself later, slotted a pass from the left flank to John-Brown. He then fired a shot from the top of the box.
“Coach wanted us to go there to see what it’s like because we had no idea of what the team was going to be like,” John-Brown said. “As soon as the game started, we pressed, and the press was good. AD played me through. To be honest, I was going thinking of laying it back. I just said, ‘Let me try the goalie’ and I got caught everybody off guard.”
Asked if he had scored any quicker goals in his life, the 24-year-old striker, replied, “No sir. Got to be my fastest.”
John-Brown then laughed before he got serious.
He was just happy to play with his new teammates in an actual match.
“I’m still trying to understand the players,” he said. “I’ve got to listen to what’s going on. They tell me where to move, what to do. It’s a good group of guys. They look out for each other. Just listen and take the positives out of it.”
The Cosmos added goals by Al Hassan and Jonathan Valbuena, a trialist with the club, late in the second half.
Whether these players get an opportunity to play this Saturday against Chattanooga FC, it remains to be seen. The Cosmos host their Members Cup rivals at Mitchel with a 7 p.m. kickoff.