By Michael Lewis
It should come as no surprise that the Cosmos welcomed the NISA Independent Cup to prepare for the legue’s fall season.
In the past, they would play a series of pre-season matches against college teams, but because schools are not in session, this is the next best thing, perhaps better.
“It’s going to be crucial for all the clubs and teams involved,” head coach Carlos Mendes told FrontRowSoccer.com. “It’s a great opportunity for everybody, especially going into a season, knowing that you’re not going to have any other games rather than the intrasquad. It just doesn’t have the same feel or the same type of mentality you can bring to a normal game.
“We’re going to be happy to have the opportunity and really to get a good understanding as to where we’re at with each other, where our team will be out and what we have to continue to improve on. So, it’s going to be a very, very important time. That’ll be the ultimate test leading into the season.”
The Cosmos and New Amsterdam FC, who will make their NISA debut this fall, will compete in the Mid-Atlantic Region along with amateur teams Maryland Bobcats FC and FC Baltimore Christos. That group will play in Maryland in late July. No exact dates have been established.
The Independent Cup was announced Wednesday.
“Getting games in is very important,” Cosmos captain and midfielder Danny Szetela said. “Hopefully. we can get some other games in against some local teams before that. As of right now we’ve just got to continue to train, hopefully have full team training starting next week and get prepared for those games in July.”
As it turns out, the Cosmos and New Amsterdam FC, who will make their NISA debut, will get an opportunity to play each other in the tournament and scout one another. They are expected to meet twice – home and away – during the fall season.
“Teams are going to get a glimpse of each other and an understanding of what each team is about,” Mendes said. “Of course, when the season comes around, there are always things that change. Each game is different. The tournament is going to have everybody ready to go for the start of the season. So, were really look forward to it.”
During their past pre-season encounters, the Cosmos, college side and amateur teams had open substitution. In other words, New York usually subbed out its Starting XI in many of those matches at halftime to give players as much playing time as possible. It was not immediately known whether the Independent Cup rules and regulations will allow that.
“I don’t believe it has been established yet,” Mendes said. “Obviously, it’s not the normal substitutions. It’s to give teams flexibility. Those things obviously will be laid out and not fully established from our understanding right now. We’ll have to wait to see that. We’re very excited to have the opportunity to get going and those are going to be important matches.”
New Amsterdam FC officials were not immediately available for comment.
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