Matt Lewis: “I really don’t have the words to express the disappointment.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — This was a tough one.
The New York Cosmos realized they most likely saw the NPSL Members Cup title fall through their grasp in their 2-1 home defeat to Detroit City FC on Saturday night.
“I really don’t have the words to express the disappointment,” said center back Matt Lewis, who scored the Cosmos’ lone goal in the 82nd minute. “We’ve had three competitions, and not walking away with the hardware that we desired is definitely a tough pill to swallow for us.”
Lewis was referring to the fact the Cosmos were eliminated in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup by Hartford Athletic on May 14 and lost in the National Premier Soccer League final, dropping a 3-1 decision at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Aug. 3.
Saturday’s setback left the Cosmos (6-1-2, 20 points) in second place in the Members Cup behind Detroit City FC (7-0-1, 22), which has a game in hand. The Cosmos will visit Napa Valley 1839 FC in their season finale on Saturday, Oct. 19 while Detroit City FC plays at nearby Michigan Stars FC on Wednesday, Oct. 16 before hosting the Milwaukee Torrent next Saturday.
The Cosmos found themselves trailing on Cyrus Saydee’s goal eight minutes after kickoff and were forced to intensify their chasing of the game when Yazeed Matthews doubled the score in the 30th minute.
“It’s really tough,” Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said. “They executed. The details were the difference. You give up an early goal, it changes the game, No. 1. We have plenty of good chances and looks to tie the game and go up. We don’t and they have two chances and score two goals. It’s the difference in the game. Against a good team, you can’t lay off like that, you can’t give them goals like that. Yeah, disappointed because the guys fought hard. The guys played hard, created.”
But the hosts could not find a way to solve Detroit City FC’s backline enough times. The Cosmos outshot Detroit City FC by a sizable margin and countless shots blocked by the backline, many from close-range attempts.
“They packed it in pretty deep,” Lewis said. “At times me and Sembro [center back Emmanuele Sembroni] we were 40 yards from goal with nobody in sight. That means they have 11 guys within 25 guys of the box. That’s going to be difficult to score on at any point of time in any game. Unfortunately, we went down in a hole early, some mistakes that I don’t think will happen again if we’re put in the same spot.”
Lewis admitted this loss could take a while to get out of his and his teammates’ systems. The team had Sunday and Monday off before resuming training at Mitchel on Tuesday morning.
“This one’s a different one,” he said. “It’s going to sting for a bit because it’s for the league, similar to the Miami game. Fortunately, with Miami, we were starting a whole new season [next week]. I think we’ve got a good group and we’re going to move on just fine. At the same time, these games are really hard to move on from, especially with one left. But we’ve got to find a way to do it. We’ve got to come ready to train on Tuesday and go after it.
“You want to win the league at any cost, but at the same time we know that that was for the marbles and if anything happens now, we’ll take. But it was a gimme at this point because we don’t expect them to drop points. It’s possible, but at the same time, we wanted to take the points from them and win the league outright. But sometimes you can’t do it like that.”
Mendes realized it was going to be a difficult task because the Cosmos fell out of the drivers’ seat entering the final week of the season.
“We have to take care of business and worry about our game and now it’s not in our hands,” he said. “That’s the most disappointing part. Now we have to hope for them to drop points. They haven’t done that all year. It will be difficult.”