Cosmos striker Aaron Dennis applauds the fans after his brace Saturday. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — With three games remaining in the NPSL Members Cup season, the Cosmos hope they have found a dangerous dynamic trio to give opponents headaches.
Aaron Dennis, Shavon John-Brown and Darwin Espinal certainly did their share Saturday night, connecting on the first goal of the 3-1 victory over Chattanooga FC at Mitchel Athletic Complex.
Dennis went on to add a second goal thanks to another Espinal pass that started the scoring sequence for the first-place Cosmos (5-0-2, 17 points), who have a four-point lead over Detroit City FC (4-0-1, 13).
“It was our first time playing Darwin, Shavon and myself up top and it was good,” Dennis said. “The three of us had a good understanding of each other’s movements as you saw on the first goal. We took our chances and came out with the three points.”
Head coach Carlos Mendes certainly liked what he saw.
“I thought Shavon and Dennis together were fantastic,” he said. “They created a lot of trouble for them. Shavon was one of the best players, setting up Aaron being in the right spot. They were dynamic and they worked well together.”
Between injuries and international commitments with the U.S. Virgin Islands national team, it has been difficult for the Elmont, N.Y. native to get into rhythm over a run of games.
“He’s been up and down, in terms whether it’s been national team or there’s an injury,” Mendes said. “It was good to see that pairing up top. It was definitely one of his strongest games.”
Dennis said it was his first brace since his first collegiate game at Villanova University in 2011.
“We work on our pattern play every Friday and we work on different patterns amongst the team,” he said. “We did that today and it paid off.”
As it turned out, the 26-year-old Dennis’ goals were just about mirror images of one another.
On the first one in the 28th minute, Espinal sent a through ball on the right wing that John-Brown latched onto before crossing the ball to Dennis, who equalized at 1-1.
On the second one in the 40th minute, Espinal sent another through ball down the left flank to Ansi Agolli, who crossed it to Dennis, who gave the Cosmos a 2-1 advantage.
“I’ve been in a little scoring drought,” Dennis said. “It was good to score two. I’m happy my team played balls I didn’t have to do too much, to be honest. I was in the right spot.
“I’m happy, but honestly, I wanted a hat-trick. But most importantly we got the three points.”
Dennis and John-Brown will miss the Oct. 12 confrontation against second-place Detroit City FC at home due to commitments in the Concacaf Nations League. Dennis will be with the USVI, John-Brown with Grenada.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” Dennis said. “I want to be here, but I also want to represent my country at the same time. So, for me, it’s more important setting up the team for Milwaukee if the coach decides to play me and then do well and hopefully get the three points before I head out with the national team.”
The Cosmos will play at the Milwaukee Torrent on Saturday, Oct. 5 as they will try to avenge a 2-2 home draw earlier this season.
They return home to Mitchel to host Detroit City FC on Saturday, Oct. 12 for a 7 p.m. kickoff.