Ansi Agolli: “I feel like I can give more for this team.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
SYOSSET, N.Y. — Slowly, but surely, the Cosmos are forming a team for the National Independent Soccer Association fall season.
The team already has signed six players and defender-midfielder Ansi Agolli wants to return to the team and the Cosmos have expressed interested in signing the 37-year-old former captain of the Albanian national team for this season.
“I feel like I can give more for this team,” he said after a training session at The Long Island Sports Hub. “So, when you have these good feelings and you are committed, professional and disciplined, you can train good and keep yourself in good shape. Then you can give yourself for the team. I think I can give more for this team for this team to reach its objectives this year.”
Head coach Carlos Mendes said that he would love to have Agolli back, given his vision and leadership qualities.
“We definitely want to speak to Ansi,” he said. “He’s a big part of the team last year. We love his leadership and the mentality that he brings day in and day out. … It’s great to have him here in training. He raises the level. He brings that professional mentality. That’s key, especially for some of these young guys who are looking to become professional players.”
After playing 10 months straight with his Azerbaijan club, Qarabağ and then the Cosmos, Agolli welcomed the respite, but he admitted he wasn’t accustomed to a three-month break.
“Normally in Europe, it’s every five months, stop, two to four [weeks],” he said. “The past year was crazy. It was the first time in my life I kept on playing and playing … forever. It was a long year.”
Agolli scored several key goals for the Cosmos in 2019, including two in the National Premier Soccer League playoffs.
To date, six players from last year’s squad have signed with the team — defenders Matt Lewis (on loan with Detroit City FC) and Emmanuele Sembroni, midfielders Sal Barone (on loan with Detroit) and Szetela, and forwards Darwin Espinal (on loan with the Oakland Roots) and Isaac Acuna (on loan with Detroit).
Mendes indicated there probably will be others who will return for 2020.
“We’ll speak to some of these guys who were a very important part of the team last year,” he said.
The head coach added that several trialists had impressed him and could be in running for a roster spot.
“We’ve had a group of guys who can contribute, done well that fit in well with the guys that have been on the team that know what it takes to be a pro,” he said. “So far, for sure we’re considering some guys as possibilities for the future.”