Clifton Natives Szetela And Borrajo Link Up With Cosmos B

Apr 9, 2018

When Danny Szetela and Johnny Borrajo take the field for New York Cosmos B this season, it will represent a reunion for two players from Clifton, N.J. who dreamed of one day playing professional soccer.

Both Szetela and Borrajo have had successful careers after their paths diverged when Szetela went to play in Bradenton at the IMG Academy at the U-17 level. Now, over 15 years later, the duo will look to win an NPSL trophy together.

“We always wanted to play together,” Szetela said. “Our careers took us in different directions.

“It happened to work out that we’re both here in New York.”

Szetela has spent the past five seasons in Cosmos’ green, while Borrajo joins the club after two seasons with Miami FC. Borrajo noted that while being the oldest of the pair, this isn’t the first time he’s joined a club to play alongside Szetela. The pair played together on several youth teams in New Jersey as well as in the state’s Olympic Development Program.

“Danny and I grew up together,” Borrajo said. “We’ve known each since we were about 4-5 years old.”

While the Clifton natives’ careers have taken different turns, they have both accomplished similar feats. Both players featured in Major League Soccer (MLS), both played abroad – Szetela for Racing Santander in Spain and Brescia in Italy, while Borrajo played in Norway for HamKam and Mjøndalen IF – and both players spent the last few seasons in the North American Soccer League (NASL).

While playing against each other in the States, the pair would often trade jerseys.

“Every time, we used to change jerseys,” Borrajo said. “I have a couple different ones of his.”

Now, together in the same kit, both players will be expected to take on leadership roles for first-year coach Carlos Mendes. Szetela will lead the club as its captain this season.

“As a footballer I have always been a fan of his,” Borrajo said. “He’s always been a good leader, and it was natural choice for him to be captain. He deserves to be captain of this club.

“He’s a guy that is going to give you 150 percent. Every game he will give you blood, sweat, and tears. He’s a great captain for the young guys to look up to, and I hope to be able to help him with my leadership and experience.”

Szetela added: “Johnny has a big heart, he works hard. It’s a Jersey thing. Growing up together we always worked hard and pushed each other. He’s a good leader. He’s a great guy on and off the field. He’s going to push everyone.

“He definitely brings a lot of experience and talent onto the field for us.”

For Borrajo, joining the Cosmos doesn’t only just see him once again link up on the field with a longtime friend, but it allows him to once again get a chance to play in front his friends and family on a regular basis.

“Somebody asked me a question - a message therapist after a session – if my parents got to see me play a lot,” Borrajo said. “It was maybe the afternoon after the Cosmos had reached out. It was like a light bulb went off. I said they watched me on TV, but she asked me about in person.

“It really stuck with me. I thought it’s time to go back home. I want my parents to see me, my family to see me, people from Clifton to see me.”

When the NPSL season for Cosmos B gets underway in May, the Clifton area will certainly have an extra rooting interest.

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