Determination Leads Ledesma to The Top

First-year Cosmos striker led club with 10 goals during Regular Seson
Published Nov 5, 2017

Emmanuel Ledesma’s first season with the New York Cosmos has been one to remember. In just 19 games, the midfielder scored 10 goals to tie for fourth in the NASL charts while adding six assists.

The strong numbers are a testament to one of Ledesma’s best qualities, beyond his ability to put the ball in the net. 

“I always keep my mind positive and I believe in myself,” he said. “Nobody can stop me from my dreams. I’ll always follow my dreams and work hard.”

Work hard. It’s a phrase the Argentine mentions frequently during a post-practice interview as the Cosmos prepare for their playoff match. 

While hard work was needed to make it through the Regular Season with strong attacking numbers, Ledesma had to prove first he was worthy of playing time in a crowded Cosmos midfield. However, injuries hampered him early in the season, just not as badly as he originally thought.

“I had an ankle injury then everyone said I would be out four to six weeks, but I was back in two weeks,” he stated. “Then I had an injury in my knee. We initially thought it would be one to two months but then I came back quick as well, and I came back stronger.”

When he first arrived in New York, Ledesma was shocked at how his new club made him feel at home, both on and off the field. 

“I was surprised because this was the first time in my life I came in on a trial and I found the team to be just like a family,” he said. “Everyone wants you to be a part of the team, and from the beginning I’ve felt happy.”

With the support of his new family, the 29-year-old started finding the back of the net. Between June 16 and July 8, he posted a goal in four straight games. The league noticed his strong play, as he was named to the NASL Team of the Month in May and July.

However, his biggest game came when the Cosmos needed it most. Trailing to Puerto Rico FC in the second half of the Regular Season finale on October 28 at MCU Park, Ledesma took over the game.

Between the 51st and 67th minutes, Ledesma scored three terrific goals for the Cosmos’ first hat trick of the season, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 win. Minutes later, he assisted on Carlos Mendes’ goal to increase the lead to 4-1 in an eventual 5-2 New York win, clinching the final spot in The Championship playoffs. 

“We saw his class in the three goals that he scored,” Cosmos Head Coach and Sporting Director Giovanni Savarese said of Ledesma after the game. “He was there in the moments that we needed him.”

Ledesma’s strong performances during the last Cosmos’ matches earned him several NASL honor mentions this week, including Play of the Week, Team of the Week, Team of the Month and Player of the Month. Not a bad spreadsheet to kick off the Championship match.

Ledesma said the hat trick was his first since he was playing in England, and it was one that will long be remembered in Cosmos Country.

Now, Ledesma and the Cosmos face their biggest test of the season, a semifinal matchup on the road against Miami FC, the NASL’s top team during the Regular Season. According to Ledesma, the key to knocking out the top seeded team is more hard work.

“This week may be special, but for me it’s the same as any other game,” Ledesma said. “We have to be focused, work hard like we’ve been doing. We also have to believe.”

If the Cosmos work hard, they will look to have more than one game remaining on the schedule. 

Ledesma and the Cosmos will battle Miami FC at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on beIN SPORTS (English), beIN SPORTS en Español (Spanish), and beIN SPORTS CONNECT (Digital).