Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes on new signing Vincenzo Candela: “He’s a guy that covers a lot of ground in the center of the midfield. Can distribute the ball very well. He also is tactically aware. He’s a smart player.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)

NEW YORK – As the start of training and the National Independent Soccer Association fall season becomes closer, the Cosmos have started to bulk up their roster.

On Monday they signed midfielder Vincenzo Candela.

The signing is pending NISA and U.S. Soccer Federation approval.

“We’re very happy and excited to have him,” Cosmos head head Carlos Mendes said. “He had a great season for Charleston [Battery]. He was a key part of their team in the USL.”

Mendes said he and his coaching staff liked Candela’s mentality and work rate.

“He’s a guy that covers a lot of ground in the center of the midfield,” he said. “Can distribute the ball very well. He also is tactically aware. He’s a smart player, so we had our eye on him. Once we had a conversation and felt really good about him and connected well.”

Mendes eyed Candela handling one or two midfield positions.

“He has a big engine,” he said. “His best role is as a six or an eight where he can get up and down the field.”

That would be as a defending/holding midfielder or a box-to-box one.

“He is very comfortable dropping deep and trying to help with the buildup and covering ground as a six,” Mendes said. “So, he’s pretty versatile on where he can play within the center of midfield. That’s something we like about him. He can get up and down and do work on both sides of the ball and will really push our level and help this team to move forward. It’s a good pickup for us.”

Born in Bogota, Columbia on Sept. 28, 1994, Candela grew up in the United States after his family moved here when he was four, when he began playing soccer. He decided to turn pro when he was 16.

Candela has experience playing in Europe, South American and the United States.

The 25-year-old Candela played with Real S.C. (Portugal) in 2012-13, Alemannia Aachen II (Germany) from 2013-14, Eupen (Belgium) from 2014-15 and Atlético Huila in 2016 and Llaneros in 2017 (both Colombia).

Most recently the 5-9, 165-lb. Candela performed for the Charleston Battery in the United Soccer League Championship in 2018 and 2019. He played in 45 games, scoring one goal.

“Even though early in his career he wasn’t necessary a starter at all these places and got all the minutes, I think it’s very, very important to have those experiences, to develop, to understand what the game requires at the next level,” Mendes said. “He has put in his time. He has worked. He has a passion for the game. After I had a conversation with him the one thing that stood out for me is that he loves the game. He wants to play. He’s hungry to continue to pursue to continue to get better. That’s also another key reason why I’m impressed after having a conversation with him. I think he’ll continue to improve as he did with Charleston and push the level.”

The Cosmos plan to start training later this month to prepare for the NISA fall season, which is scheduled to kick off in early August.