Carlos Mendes First Year Challenges

Mar 27, 2018

The New York Cosmos have always touted the club’s family atmosphere, so it was only fitting that when the club hired a new Cosmos B coach for the NPSL season that it was one of its most important figures in the modern era of the club.

Carlos Mendes, who captained the Cosmos for five seasons, called time on his playing career this past November and will now take up the coaching reins.

While it’s been a quick turnaround from player to coach as Mendes continues to build his roster, it’s an opportunity he jumped at when given the chance.

“When I got the call, I was excited at the opportunity,” said Mendes.

When asked if he thought he’d be roaming the touchline so soon, he responded, “no, you never know when the opportunity is going to come. I think it’s great experience.”

Now, Mendes has to navigate a few challenges ahead of his debut as a head coach.

“Coaching is a different mentality,” he said. “You have to look at things differently and that comes with experience. I’ve gotten to play for a lot of great coaches and you learn from that. Having been here the past five years it makes the transition easier. You ask advice, learn as you go, and gain experience.”

Former Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese is one person that Mendes will now turn to for coaching advice.

“I have a great relationship with Gio and he called me when I got the job,” Mendes said. “I’m lucky to be surrounded by good people who have helped me in my playing career and now through the first phase in my coaching career.”

“I’m sure I’ll call up Gio asking for his opinions, I respect him so much.”

Moving from player to coach in a short space of time leaves Mendes in a position where he just recently played with or against players that he will now guide from the sideline. It’s a new wrinkle in his previous relationships that he will have to navigate. 

“It does present challenges, but I think it will help as well,” he said. “We know each other. When you compete and play together you know how you can push each other on the field.

“It’s a different angle, but I’m going to give it a 100 percent and I know these guys will too.”

The players that Mendes has been around in the past, though, will play a key role during the upcoming campaign.

“I think there is a respect there,” he said. “Playing against guys like Danny Szetela and Bledi Bardic every day [last year as a player in training], I think you earn that respect and it will be the same as a coach.

“It’s a different mentality as a head coach, but it will help knowing their strengths and weaknesses.”

While it’s Mendes’ first season as a coach, he has plenty of leadership experience. Wearing the captain’s armband in New York for the past five seasons as well as maturing as a player throughout his career has set him up for this next phase.

“Carlos was a coach on the field, so he has the mentality,” Cosmos assistant coach Luis Gutierrez said. “It’s easy for me to talk to him because his mind is always thinking like a coach. The past five years as a captain he was an extension of Gio on the field.”

Danny Szetela, who now slides into the role of captain, had the same sentiments after spending the past five season playing Mendes.

“Carlos, I feel like he was a coach last year,” he said. “As the captain there’s a responsibility to try to make players better around you and that’s the same as the coach. The transition for Carlos could be pretty easy.”

Despite the team’s transition with a new coach and new faces on the field, Mendes will hope to keep one facet fans of the side have grown accustomed to: the playing style.

“Just how the Cosmos like to play, how we’ve played,” Mendes said. “I enjoyed playing, keeping the ball, and spreading the field out.

“I think the mentality is going to be the same. It will be a team that is fun to watch and comfortable with the ball at their feet. For me, that’s how I want to move forward.”

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