Aaron Dennis: “I feel good coming off the weekend, have confidence going into this weekend against Milwaukee. Hopefully, I can keep the goal-scoring going and the momentum going into Barbados.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Cosmos forwards Aaron Dennis and Shavon John-Brown have been called into their respective national teams to compete in the Concacaf Nations League this month.
Dennis, who scored twice in the 3-1 home win over Chattanooga FC last Saturday, will fly down to perform with the U.S. Virgin Island squads. John-Brown, who set up Dennis’ first goal in the NPSL Members Cup game, will play for Grenada.
“I’m excited,” Dennis said. “It’s always an honor to represent your country. I feel good coming off the weekend, have confidence going into this weekend against Milwaukee. Hopefully, I can keep the goal-scoring going and the momentum going into Barbados.”
The first-place Cosmos will visit the Milwaukee Torrent Saturday at 7 p.m.
Dennis said that playing for the USVI is “just added motivation.”
“If I feel a little bit lazy, I have to go to the gym,” he added. “If I feel tired at practice, I have to make that extra sprint or two just to get my set fit for the international speed of play.”
The USVI national team (1-1-0, 3 points), which is in third place, will meet second-place Barbados (1-1-0, 3) in a home-and-home series in League C Group A. The Dashing Eagle visits Barbados on Oct. 12 before hosting their Caribbean rivals on Oct. 15.
It is rare when teams meet in back-to-back games so close in international competition with so much on the line.
“We played them before but there’s a lot of new faces on both sides,” Dennis said. “It will be a tough test, but two important games.”
While Dennis and John-Brown are competing in separate divisions, they still talk about the Nations League.
“Shevie and I talk all the time about it,” he said. “I hope he does well. and he hopes I do well.”
John-Brown and Grenada will have their hands full in League B Group A
The group-leader Spice Boys (2-0-0, 6 points) will play at second-place French Guiana (1-0-1, 4) on Oct. 10 before hosting the same side Oct. 13. If they win both games Grenada will be in the drivers’ seat to clinch the group crown, qualify for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup and earn promotion to League A. Grenada, which is coached by former St. John’s University standout and perennial Major League Soccer all-star Shalrie Joseph, last competed in the Gold Cup in 2011.
“It would be good for the country because soccer back there is on the high,” John-Brown said. “They want to get everything going in the right way.”
John-Brown made his Cosmos debut on Saturday, setting up Dennis’ first goal. He is hoping to play against Milwaukee but realized he won’t be available for the Oct. 12 confrontation with Detroit City FC at home.
“I was thinking the same thing, going back and forth about it because I’m just starting to jell with the guys,” he said. “My first game I put in a good shift. The guys were happy to have me. And now to play a second game and then I have to leave after that, it’s frustrating at times. But at the same time, it’s representing your country. So, it’s always good thing to go there and play for your country.”
After the October matches, Grenada has one more game remaining, hosting Belize on Nov. 17, while the USVI will visit the Cayman Islands on Nov. 16 in its finale.