Jesse Corke: “Any soccer is better than no soccer. You can test me 100 times a week if it means that I’m going to play. I’ll do it.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Michael Lewis
They’re willing to go through testing, training as individuals or in small groups.
Cosmos players want to return to training ASAP, but they’re also willing to take all necessary precautions so they can practice.
“Any soccer is better than no soccer,” goalkeeper Jesse Corke said. “You can test me 100 times a week if it means that I’m going to play. I’ll do it.”
Corke was not alone.
“Doing the test and getting on the field will be no problem,” midfielder-forward Shavon John-Brown said. “I’m pretty sure everybody will be cool in taking the test. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
The Cosmos had been doing indoor training before stay in place protocols were declared in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tri-state area, and New York particularly, were the hot spots for the Coronavirus with a soaring number of cases and deaths. It has dropped considerably since then.
No one wants to see another outbreak, especially one that will affect the Cosmos.
“Absolutely,” team captain and midfielder Danny Szetela said. “We have to make sure we do everything correct so things don’t go backwards. So, if that’s taking a temperature or getting a test done once a week, we have to do it. It’s important that the guys understand this virus isn’t over. We’re taking steps forward, but we still have to follow protocols and anything that we have to do anything that has to be done to get onto the field.”
When asked how much he was looking forward to returning to training at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y., Szetela replied, “Oh, you have no idea. It’s been a long time. Hopefully everything goes well and we can start up [soon], starting training. I’m not sure 100 percent if it’s going to be team training or individual group training. But just being able to get back to the facility and start working towards our goal — winning the NISA championship.”
The Cosmos are scheduled to make their debut in the National Independent Soccer Association fall season in August.
They are hoping to begin training this month, but will take precautions for players’ health, which could mean testing before any practices.
John-Brown was itching to get back with his teammates.
“I would say probably 120 percent,” he said. “It’s long overdue to be honest. Training by yourself and training with zoom is pretty good, but being around the guys and being around the coaching staff, being together is big. … It’s like your family. You just need to see the whole team around each other. After working on zoom, everybody is just happy seeing each other through the camera. Imagine if it is in person. It will be nothing but love to each other. ”
The Cosmos and NISA are likely to follow in the footsteps of Major League Soccer, which started with individual practice sessions at a team facility and moved up to group training and eventually to full sessions.
Cosmos have been training on their own, but its not like being with the same players day in and day out. Szetela has been practicing with several pro and amateur players where he lives in New Jersey in small groups.
“It’s different,” he said. “You’re not with your team. you’re with different players from different teams. You’re still working for a goal to get fit and be as ready as you can. Once we start training with the team but being able to get back to the facility and put on that Cosmos shirt knowing that we are representing our club again, can’t come soon enough.”
As a goalkeeper, Corke has to do some different training sessions than his teammates, who run all game.
“We were given a preseason fitness workout packet but it’s been difficult not being around so many people, not being able to train in a group, in a group setting,” he said.
To keep sharp, Corke has been using a rebounder with a ball at home.
“Just been using that to keep my hands sharp,” he said. “I’m really, really itching to get back on the field. I’m sure everyone is. It’ s been a long time since the last time we trained. I’m sure everyone is going to be a little rusty to start. But it will be nice to get back on the field as soon as possible.”
Every weekday during the season Szetela has commuted from New Jersey to the Cosmos training facility on Long Island. Traffic has been light during the shutdown, but has increased as people start going back to work.
Szetela hoped that traffic from New Jersey will be lighter.
“I hope so,” he said. “I think maybe it will be worse because when people start going back to work, they’ll be driving instead of taking the bus, the trains. Fingers crossed. We’ll see. I leave early enough not to hit traffic in the morning anyways.”