By DAN KARELL
Now more than two weeks into their season, the New York Cosmos are able to relax.
Following the long buildup to the first professional game in nearly 30 years for the Cosmos, the squad is now able to focus more on the game at hand each week after getting the first home and away matches of the season out of the way.
The Cosmos won their home opener 2-1, but it took a stoppage-time goal from Alessandro Noselli to tip the balance in the hosts’ favor, while Noselli and Co. couldn’t find a way through the Tampa Bay Rowdies defense in the second week of the season. Despite the scoreless draw, starting defender Hunter Freeman said that winning in Week 1 helped take some of the pressure off the team.
“The first game at home, there was a lot of stuff leading up to that, and not to say we were distracted but there was a lot of pressure on us to win the game,” Freeman told SBI in a phone interview. “I think everybody expected us to win the game and for us as players and for the organization, of course we wanted to win, we wanted get off on the right foot and send our fans home happy.
“Last (Saturday), with less distractions (during the week) and more concentration on the game, I think we improved on a lot of things when it came to our performance.”
Here are some more notes from Cosmos training this week:
SZETELA MAKES SEASON DEBUT
Last Saturday marked an important day in the career of Danny Szetela, as he played his first minutes in a professional match since October 24, 2009.
Szetela entered the match in the 68th minute for defender Korey Veeder, and despite normally plying his trade as a midfielder, Szetela was shifted to right back while Freeman moved to the left side. Even though Szetela was playing in an unfamiliar place, he drew the praise from his teammates and coach.
“He performed very well,” Cosmos head coach Gio Savarese told SBI in a phone interview. “He’s been working very hard in practices in order to be able to play. The reason we played him at right back is because we needed to fill that space, and we feel that his experience and tactical abilities would help him play the position well.
“I was very satisfied with what he gave us from that substitution.”
Added Freeman, a former teammate of Szetela’s on the U.S. youth national team circuit: “I don’t think he’s ever played right back, so to get your first minutes in a position that you don’t ever really play can be very nerve-wracking, especially when it’s a 0-0 game, but I thought he did very well.”
COSMOS TRAIN ON SUNDAYS
One of the more interesting notes of this season with the Cosmos is that unlike other professional clubs who give most or all of the players the day after a match off, the Cosmos have an organized practice.
“I believe that it’s always better to get practice early Sunday morning,” Savarese said. “For one, it’s good for everyone to work out and continue stay fit. The guys who got a lot of minutes, it’s important for them to get regeneration the day after to be able to be more comfortable and not feel stiffness through the weekend.”
Last Sunday, instead of returning home straight from Tampa, Savarese had the squad out on the field early in the morning for some light training for the starters and a normal level training for the reserves, before heading back home and giving the squad the day off on Monday.
“(These practices) go a long way, for them to rest as well as being able to practice and get what we want for them to be ready for the next practice on Tuesday,” Savarese said.
HOME MATCH VS. ROWDIES MOVED TO SUNDAY SEPT. 29
In a press release, the New York Cosmos announced that their home match on Saturday, Sept. 28 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies had been moved to Sunday, Sept. 29.
The match at Shuart Stadium, on the campus of Hofstra University, will be shown live on One World Sports and SportsNet New York (SNY) at 5pm local.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Savarese said that Henry Lopez has been ruled out of the match against the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday due to a leg injury. Jemal Johnson’s knee injury continues to keep him sidelined.
- Outside of those two, Savarese confirmed that everyone else is fit and available for selection.
- Defender Hunter Gorskie mentioned to SBI that in addition to the play of Szetela, Sebastian Guenzatti and Peri Marosevic have both impressed him with their play in practice and in games.
What do you think of these notes? Do you see the team faring better against the RailHawks? Happy to see Szetela get minutes? Do you see him slotting into his natural central midfield position in the future?
Share your thoughts below.