Danny Szetela: “If you lose, you have two games to play in order to get enough points to get to the next round. Now there is more pressure on you and every game you go out is a must win.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

As the oldest member of the Cosmos, Danny Szetela certainly is the team’s voice of experience in so many ways.

He has played professionally since 2004 and for the U.S. national teams at several levels.

Moreover, the 33-year-old Cosmos captain has been through group stages at the Under-17, U-20 and the 2008 Olympics. So, he understands how vital it is to accrue points in the opening match and pressure of a group stage in a tournament.

The Cosmos kick off their participation in the National Independent Soccer Association Fall Tournament against the Cal United Strikers at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtranck, Mich. Tuesday at 5 p.m. It will be the first of three Group B matches.

“The first game is important because if you win, the pressure drops a little bit,” Szetela said. “If you lose, you have two games to play in order to get enough points to get to the next round. Now there is more pressure on you and every game you go out is a must win.

“So, if you’re losing that first game, there’s a lot more pressure. If you win, you have a little less pressure because you won that first game. So maybe you change the tactics up a little bit, not be as offensive. You can be a little more defensive in order to take our opportunities on the counter. If you lose that game you’ve got to stick to the game plan and you got to take chances. Every point is important.”

As for living in a bubble, Szetela is used to that, having performed in the U-17 and U-20 World Cups and in the Olympics. The U-17 tournament was in Finland in 2003 and the U-20 competition was in Canada in 2007.

“With the youth World Cups, we were younger,” he said. “U-17, we had to stay in the hotel. We didn’t really roam out. The U-20 World Cup, we had a little more freedom. You’re a little older, you’re adults, you’re a little more responsible. But the Olympics, when we we went to China, we were really closed down in a hotel where we really couldn’t leave for our safety. The Olympics was probably the closest to what we’re going to see in the bubble as we’re staying in the hotel. It’s just to the stadium for practice and games and back to the hotel.”

Which is what the Cosmos will do during their stay.

Given his experience, Szetela was asked if he had any advice for his teammates.

“It’s important that you try to interact with all your teammates. It can be very easy for you to get into your hotel room and just sit there. The hotel’s big enough. You’re allowed to go to your teammates’ rooms. So, it’s important to interact with your teammates, get some fun activities, whether its playing cards or some other games to make sure you make time pass by.”