Ansi Agolli will bring his skills back to the Cosmos this summer. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Add five players to the list of Cosmos players who are returning to the team this year.
The players included goalkeepers Santiago Castano (Queens, N.Y.) and Jesse Corke (Valley Stream, N.Y.), defender Pedro Galvao, defender-midfielder Ansi Agolli and midfielder-forward Shavon John-Brown.
Their signing is pending National Independent SoccerAssociation and U.S. Soccer Federation approval.
A term sheet is a non-binding agreement as the parties intend to finalize a deal once the NISA fall season is confirmed.
That gave the Cosmos 12 players ready to ready. They already had signed seven players to contracts – defenders Emmanuele Sembroni, Matt Lewis and Konrad Plewa, midfielders Danny Szetela and Sal Barone and forwards Darwin Espinal and Isaac Acuna.
Needless to say, head coach Carlos Mendes was excited that five more players were on the verge of being added to the roster.
Agolli, who played on the left side, made on impact on and off the field with his leadership and experience, having competed in the UEFA Champions League and Euro 2016 with the Albanian national team. The 37-year-old’s most memorable moments came in back-to-back matches in the National Premier Soccer League playoffs, in which he tallied game-winning goals against the Brooklyn Italians and FC Baltimore.
“Ansi obviously was one of our key pieces,” Mendes said. “He is a leader on and off the field for us. He gave us one of our most consistent performers and was one of top players from last year. With him being in New York, it gave us another opportunity to have him back. He looked great last year. We feel he still has something to contribute.”
The return of Castano and Corke will give the team a pair of experienced hands in goal.
“I just loved the character, work rate and mentality that they brought last year every day in training and in games,” Mendes said. “They are local and guys that understand the area and the club well. It was important to get them back. They’re going to contribute and push each other.”
In 2019, Galvao helped solidify the Cosmos’ backline while becoming one of the team leaders.
“He’s a guy with a lot of experience, playing some different roles for us,” Mendes said. “He just brings the focus and attitude that we need day in and day out to move the team forward. He helped tremendously with the younger guys and set a good example. He’s versatile and an experienced player. We’re happy to have him back. We feel he’ll be a big part of the club moving forward for this season.”
John-Brown joined the club near the end of the NPSL season and made himself felt on the wing during the NPSL Members Cup when he wasn’t playing with the Grenada national team.
“We see a lot of potential in Shavon,” Mendes said. “We felt that the games he was able to play, he was a big piece, a big threat for us. He’s a great kid. I really feel like he can play at a high level develop and continue to grow as a player. He has so much to offer. He has a huge potential. He’s a dynamic player who has speed, is comfortable at going at people, can play up top and can play wide. He’ll be a very important piece of the puzzle.”
Added Cosmos COO Erik Stover: “We have a good core of players on contracts and with term sheets now. Hopefully, NISA will play this fall and that we’ll have league and government clearance to start training soon.”
The fall season is expected to kick off behind closed doors in August.