Junior Burgos: “We closed the game out in the first half. I’m happy I was able to do it in front of my family and friends and I was able to close out the season the strongest way possible.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Midfielder Junior Burgos finished his year in splendid fashion Saturday night, by finishing three times to record the first hat-trick of his professional career.
In fact, the El Salvadoran international connected for an amazing nine-minute hat-trick to help the Cosmos to a 7-0 triumph over Napa Valley 1839 FC in the final game of the NPSL Members Cup season.
“I was just really excited about being able to help out the team,” he said. “We struggled almost the whole year shutting teams down from the beginning and taking advantage of our chances early in the game. I felt like I was able to contribute to that. We closed the game out in the first half. I’m happy I was able to do it in front of my family and friends and I was able to close out the season the strongest way possible.”
Burgos put on a showcase of his goal-scoring prowess during the first half after Aly Hassan and David Diosa had given the Cosmos a two-goal lead.
He started with a 35-yard free kick that he blasted over a defensive wall in the 32nd minute.
He continued it in the 38th minute, after taking a pass from Shavon John-Brown, and drilling a 35-yard shot from the right side.
And he completed it in the 41st minute, converting a penalty kick.
As every Cosmos fan has learned, Burgos has earned a well-deserved reputation for his free kick ability to score from long range.
“That’s one of my strengths, my long-distance shooting,” he said. “So, any time I can get myself in a position where I can have a shot, I always give it a shot and try to see what can come out it, try at least the goalie make a save. This time around he was unable to do that and lucky for me I was able to get three goals.”
It wasn’t an easy game to prepare for, as the Cosmos learned they had been eliminated in the race for the Members Cup title by the champion Detroit City FC last Wednesday night. It was the first game of the season in the National Premier Soccer League and Members Cup that did not have post-season implications.
“First and foremost, we are professionals and whether we are playing for something or not, we have to do our jobs,” Burgos said. “We wanted to close out the season the best way possible because it was a way to remind us that we maybe the year didn’t go the way it wanted to, but we wanted to make sure we went out with the win and a strong win.”
The Cosmos (7-1-2, 23 points, Members Cup) enjoyed a memorable year with their combined win-lost record of 23-2-3 in the NPSL and Members Cup. Yet, they fell short their ultimate goal of winning the league championship and advancing as far as they could in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (they were eliminated in the second round).
“I think it’s just mixed of emotions because technically we only lost three games the whole year and they were probably the most important games of the year,” Burgos said. “All three games we were down 2-0 at halftime and it was tough for us to get back on track.
“It was the first year everyone playing together as a team and getting to know each other. We have a lot of young guys as well who had a great experience to see these types of games, to see this type of atmosphere in this type of pressure, especially playing for a big club like New York.”
Like his hat-trick and Cosmos victory in the season finale, Burgos ended on a high note.
“You’ve got to take all the positives,” he said. “We did a lot of great things. The team played a very attractive style of soccer. The fans were extremely happy about the way we played. The coaching staff in getting the group together and preparing the group for every game. You’ve got to take the positives out of the year, move forward and see what the future holds.”