Carlos Mendes: “We gave up the first goal. It made it difficult on us, put some pressure on us. But it showed a lot of character. The guys believe. Throughout the game there wasn’t any panic. I’ve been saying it the last couple of weeks. It’s a team that’s maturing.”
Talk about resiliency.
For three consecutive games, the Cosmos went down by a goal.
And for those three games, the Cosmos bounced back and recorded seven out of a possible nine points to keep their hopes alive to win the NPSL Members Cup.
Their latest comeback came in the 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Torrent Saturday night.
“We gave up the first goal,” head coach Carlos Mendes said. “It made it difficult on us, put some pressure on us. But it showed a lot of character. The guys believe. Throughout the game there wasn’t any panic. I’ve been saying it the last couple of weeks. It’s a team that’s maturing. A good performance overall. A team that’s believing.”
Two of those comebacks have come on the road over the past several weeks:
On Sept. 21, Detroit City FC grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 47th minute as Stephen Carroll converted a corner kick past goalkeeper Santiago Castano. The Cosmos rallied behind Darwin Espinal’s goal for a 1-1 draw in Hamtramck, Mich.
On Sept. 28, Chattanooga FC drew first blood in the 12th minute when Joao Costa ran down the left side and fired a shot from outside the penalty area at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. The Cosmos roared back with a pair of Aaron Dennis goals en route to a 3-1 triumph.
And this past Saturday, the Torrent scored 11 minutes after the opening kickoff as Sebastian Capozucchi beat goalkeeper Santiago Castano from in-close off a free kick for a 1-0 edge. Header goals by Shavon John-Brown and Matt Lewis lifted the Cosmos to a 2-1 road win as they retained first place with a 6-0-2 mark and 20 points.
“It says a couple of things, one negative and then a couple of positives,” Lewis said. “We’re not coming out ready to go, I guess. We need to be a little bit more focused, tuned in from the beginning of the game so we don’t have to play from behind. But at the same time, when you’re conceding goals and getting results, it shows a lot of heart, a lot of character, a lot of belief in the team that no matter what the scenario is in the game we’re going to get the job done, get the goals needed and get a result. That’s a very positive thing to have in a squad. Belief is half the battle most of the time.”
Added Mendes: “You never want to go down. Santi will be the first one to tell you that it was a mistake. Sometimes it happens. It was a goal that was given to them. We didn’t really give them anything outside of that. We continued to play and controlled the game for the most part. You have to look at that. Sometimes these goals, these mistakes happen. You got to recover quickly, and the team did just that.”
Mendes praised several players for their performances on Saturday night, including defenders Ansi Agolli, Emmanuele Sembroni and Lewis, Espinal and strikers Isaac Acuna and John-Brown.
“Shavon was very good for us,” he said. “At the back, we were very good. Sembroni and Lewis did very well in starting the play. Ansi getting up the left side and doing what he always does in terms of service; in the second half, Acuna was a big piece for us in terms of being the target and winning a lot of balls in the air and holding up play. Darwin, he’s doing very well. He’s found some great pockets and some great space that he gave them a bit of trouble.”
The Cosmos will welcome second-place Detroit City FC (5-0-1, 16) to Mitchel in their final home contest of the season for their most important Members Cup match of the season as the game could very well determine which team captures the championship.
They will visit Napa Valley 1839 FC for their season finale on Saturday, Oct. 19.