Danny Szetela: “What we can do is move on and hope for a miracle.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Ever the optimist, Danny Szetela won’t give up until the Cosmos are mathematically eliminated from the NPSL Members Cup race.
They still have a chance, albeit a small one.
“What we can do is move on and hope for a miracle,” the team captain said after the Cosmos dropped a 2-1 home decision to Detroit City FC on Saturday night, putting them in a precarious position in their quest for the championship. “I think we’ve all seen in the soccer that it could happen.”
Detroit City FC (7-0-1, 22 points) climbed over the Cosmos (6-1-2, 20) into the league lead. New York has one game remaining as it visits Napa Valley 1839 FC on Saturday night. Detroit City FC has two matches left – at fifth-place Michigan Stars FC (2-5-1) in nearby Pontiac, Mich., on Wednesday night and at home against fourth-place Milwaukee Torrent (2-4-2) on Saturday night.
The Cosmos will need some help from Michigan and Milwaukee and to take care of business on their end. They must win at Napa Valley and Detroit City FC needs to lose in its final two games. That is a longshot because the Michigan-based club has been tough defensively, surrendering a league-low three goals this season.
If the rivals are equal in point totals, Detroit City FC would be declared champions because the first tie-breaker is head-to-head results between the teams and then head-to-head goal differential. They played to a 1-1 draw in Detroit on September 21. So, Detroit City FC would win out.
If Detroit loses both and the Cosmos defeat Napa Valley, the Cosmos would claim the Members Cup title.
“All we can do is hope for them to draw or lose in their next two games and we still have to focus on still winning against Napa Valley,” Szetela said. “Listen, there’s still a chance, but very slim. You never know. This game is crazy, and I think [Saturday] shows that.”
The Cosmos entered the contest with a 22-game regular-season unbeaten streak, but that was thwarted by Detroit City FC, which grabbed a two-goal lead by the opening half hour.
That forced the Cosmos to chase the game for the remaining 60 minutes. Many of their shots were blocked by the opposing back line and midfielders before they got close to their target.
“A lot of the opportunities we had were inside the six-yard box,” Szetela said. “They did a great job honestly, blocking the shots. Their defense blocked everything inside the six-yard box and around the penalty area. I mean we created the opportunities. We just didn’t finish and that’s what it all came down to execution. They executed on the two goals, the two chances they had.
“Then they parked the bus, like we thought they would. At the end of the day, they got the three points and we didn’t. We were the better team, but we didn’t get the three points. Congratulations to them, but we’ve got to move forward.”
The Cosmos returned to training at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y., on Tuesday morning.
“We still have to stay focused,” he added. “Like I said, there’s still a chance. I still believe. You always believe you can win it. We just have to focus on Napa and get the three points.”