Cosmos Roster For The 2019 Season Starting To Take Shape

Head coach Carols Mendes still eyes having a deep roster that can compete on all fronts this year
Feb 13, 2019
Carlos Mendes can't wait until the National Premier Soccer League season and the NPSL Founders Cup to begin.
The New York Cosmos head coach said that the team still has a lot of work to do between now and then and he's ready for the challenge.
Slowly, but surely, the 2019 Cosmos team for two seasons is being built with many signings planned for the coming weeks.
"It's definitely a challenge, trying to put together a full roster," Mendes said. "We're very excited about it. A lot of opportunity, a lot of people reaching out, connecting with a lot of players and agents. Definitely excited about the future. We're close to signing some guys. If all goes well, we'll have a lot more news in the near future."
The Cosmos have 10 players under contract.
"I'm very happy with the guys we have signed and that's a good start for us," Mendes said.
Mendes is looking to build the Cosmos up the middle, not unlike what he did last year when the club reached the NPSL Northeast Region Final.
"I think any time you're looking to build a team you want to up the middle, the spine of the team," he said. "We are looking at a goalkeeper, the center back position, another center midfielder. But again, all around, we're still open. We need a lot of different things and positions."
The bottom line is how new acquisitions will fit the Cosmos' mold – on and off the field.
"We want to look at players that will fit our style," Mendes said. "That's the challenge of it. There's a lot of interest, a lot of players. You want to create the right balance to make sure you get the right personalities. That takes time. It's been a lot of fun and looking forward to what we can put together."
While forming a new roster, Mendes said he hoped to bring back several players from last year's team, which recorded a perfect 10-0-0 mark during the regular season.
"There are some guys that played last year that we would like to have back," he said. "I think that will be great, guys that are great in the locker room that we felt developed and were excellent on the field. We are looking to get some guys who played for us last year that will help us continue to grow."
This year the Cosmos will participate in two league competitions -- the NPSL, whose regular season runs from late April until early July, and the Founders Cup, which is set to begin in August and end in November.
"It definitely will be a much longer season clearly," Mendes said. "But I think in our mentality and preparation is the same. You have to, No. 1, build the best possible roster you can build. You cannot have just 10-11 players, but a good 18 guys you can rely on, guys that will help you through a long season. That's key. Anytime you play March through November it's key that you have a deep team.
"I think we're going to grow every week, have a successful season. Each game you're trying to get better and when the games matter the most, when you're in playoffs or in championship game, it’s what you hope for all year."
The Cosmos plan to kick off preseason training at the beginning of March, Mendes said.
"That's when we would like to have everybody in with the roster that we have to that point so that we can get going and get a good preseason in and get to know each when we're building," he said. "We'll have, of course, some familiar faces and some guys back. It's always important to get guys in as early as possible and get them working together, get them to know us, too, as a coaching staff."
While the Cosmos have a history of success -- they won eight North American Soccer League titles -- Mendes warned that both seasons will not be a cake walk.
"Nothing's going to be easy," he said. "We found out last year in the NPSL. There were no easy games. The Founders Cup is going to be very, very difficult. We're not going to fool ourselves, thinking that this is going to be any type of a walk through. We need to be completely focused, from when we come in in March."
Mendes will enter his second season as head coach. As a rookie in that position in 2018, he was named NPSL Coach of the Year, although the Mineola, N.Y. native said that he still is in a learning mode.
He praised assistant coach Luis Gutierrez as a big reason for the team's success last year.
"I'm very lucky to have Luis back," Mendes said. "He's a very important part of the staff. He's got a lot of experience. He's somebody that I rely on very heavily and will continue to do that this year.
"I look at myself first, things that I can improve on and the things that I really enjoyed last year. But you take things like the good and the bad and you try to better yourself. Everything comes with experience. Just looking forward to another opportunity. Hopefully, I can get out my ideas and views of the game even better this year and try to win a championship because this is what we're playing for -- the NPSL Founders Cup. This is what the fans of the New York Cosmos come to expect -- championships -- and that's what we're going to work for. We're not going to stop until we're raising the trophy at the end of the year."
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