The Cosmos will finally get an opportunity to play another team. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)

The Cosmos won’t start their short National Independent Soccer Association campaign for another two weeks, but they will get a preview of what they will face Sunday night.

That’s when they take on expansion team New Amsterdam FC in the NISA Independent Cup in the Mid-Atlantic Region at the Hudson Sports Complex in Warwick, N.Y. at 6:45 p.m.

After having his team train for the past six weeks, head coach Carlos Mendes can’t wait to get his team in a competitive situation against another side. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic protocols, the Cosmos haven’t been able to test themselves against other teams — amateur, semi-pro or college. They have been limited to intrasquad matches.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Mendes said. “After training for a while and the guys working hard, it’ll be great to just get into a game environment. We’re lucky to have the opportunity. Very excited and looking forward to getting back into a game situation. It’s the ultimate opportunity for the players and for the coaches to see the level we’re at and what you have to work on to get prepared for the season.”

While Mendes will get an opportunity to see his players, especially the new ones, play under pressure, the Cosmos still will try to bring home some silverware from the four-game

Given the Cosmos’ history of winning championships and collecting trophies, the three games won’t be just about getting players minutes and making sure everyone is on the same page.

“We’re going into this to win. This is a tournament,” Mendes said. “We’re playing for something. We want to be competitive and win. That’s the mentality and the focus. This might not be league play, but it’s still playing for something every time we step on the field. We’re going to have an opportunity to see where we’re at, to compete to win some games hopefully. It’s a good challenge.”

Regardless what transpires in the match, the Cosmos and New Amsterdam FC will meet again during the regular season at the same venue on Aug. 21.

Translated: The game will give both sides an opportunity to learn about each other, at least to a point.

“We’ll have a look at each other and see what the base of the team will be,” Mendes said. “It’s definitely an opportunity for both sides to have an understanding and a feel [of each other]. We know where we are and I’m sure they are as well.”

Mendes said that he and the coaching staff were “still working on things and getting to know the overall roster and things that you would like to do throughout the season. We want to use the opportunity to get guys minutes and kind of look at different situations.”

The Cosmos will continue in the competition next week in Leesburg, Va. as they will meet a pair of top amateur teams from Maryland – FC Baltimore Christos on Thursday, Aug. 6 at 8:45 p.m. and Maryland Bobcats FC on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 7:45 p.m. at the Evergreen Sports Complex in Leesburg, Va. The Bobcats have applied to join NISA.

“These games are going to be a very good challenge and a test to see where we are at,” Mendes said. “It won’t be easy. All teams are moving forward to win games and be competitive and that’s what we want. The guys have been working hard on the training ground. Now we’re going to apply the things we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks into game situations against good teams.

“For us to be successful and if we want to win these games, we have to be at our best and making sure we’re mentally and physically prepared at a very good level.”

Because this regional competition had to be moved and postponed for several days, the Cosmos won’t open the NISA fall campaign on Aug. 8 as originally planned. Instead, they will kick off the season at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Saturday, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m.