John Neeskens’ Defending, Set-Piece Ability Has Been Vital To Cosmos B's Success

Neeskens’ has aided in the attack as well as helping to keep clean sheets for the side
Published Jun 29, 2018
John Neeskens knows something or two about winning titles.
In fact, he was an important member of the Cosmos B side that captured the 2015 National Premier Soccer League crown with a 15-0-1 mark.
The 24-year-old left back been a regular on this year's squad, which is a perfect 8-0-0 entering Saturday's match at Hartford City FC.
"It was a good team," he said of the 2015 side. "We had a very good season. We were unbeaten. This team, it's very good. We're doing everything so professional. We're still unbeaten and we're in the right way."
Cosmos B qualified for the playoffs with a 5-0 win over the Elm City Express last Saturday, a result that also clinched the North Atlantic Conference title.
So, it shouldn't come as a major surprise that Neeskens has some good vibes about this team.
"We have so many talented players, young players, and experienced players," he said. "We have a good balance. That's a positive thing."
Cosmos B has outscored its foes, 34-7, and is No. 1 in the NPSL power rankings.
The team, however, will live or die on what transpires on the field, and Neeskens doesn't take any team lightly.
"Every single game is difficult in this league," he said. "You need to be focused because every moment every team can hurt you. We are in the right direction to do something good. We have to fight for each and every game and be focused."
After the 2015 season, Neeskens tried his luck with LA Galaxy II, where he met his current Cosmos B teammate, Rafa Garcia.
He went back to his native Spain to play for Gava and Santboià -- two teams in Catalonia -- in 2017 before he contacted head coach Carlos Mendes about returning to the fold.
"I didn't think twice about coming here because 2015 was one of the best experiences of my career," he said. "I said, 'Of course, yes to come back,' and I am happy."
Mendes welcomed him back with open arms for several reasons.
"He's a leader," he said. "Tactically, he's very aware, a very good player. Even though he's playing outside back, he gives us so much going forward. He's great, he's been excellent at whipping balls in, putting the ball in dangerous areas. He's very good on the ball, very composed. He brings so much to us. Outside of being a leader, a very smart player, very good on possession. On both ends of the ball whether it’s attacking or defending, he's smart. So, I'm very happy and lucky to have him."
It's easy for an outside back to get lost in the shuffle of things. Forwards get a lot of the glory for scoring goals. Midfielders will receive credit for their creativity and setting up those goals. Center backs usually are required to shut down the opposing team's strikers. And goalkeepers will grab the spotlight with some important and spectacular saves.
Beyond his solid defending on the left side, Neeskens has given Cosmos B a lethal server on corner kicks and someone who can power in a free kick.
He said his corner-kick service has resulted in six or seven goals this season.
"I love to score goals, but I also love to do the pass for the others to score," Neeskens said.
Especially when he sets up a goal from a corner kick.
"I feel so happy because I am not a striker, but I feel like I love putting crosses, putting corners, and serving free kicks so it makes me feel good for another [player] to score," Neeskens said.
But there's nothing like securing a clean sheet. Cosmos B has three shutouts and counting.
"For example, the last game we won five-nil," Neeskens said. "I think we did a very good job on defense. Our attackers also did a very good job in scoring goals. We feel very good when we don't concede any goals."
Cosmos B has two matches remaining in the regular season. Besides Hartford City FC Saturday night, it will host Kingston Stockade FC at Commisso Stadium at Columbia University on Saturday, July 7.
The team will host at least the conference semifinal at Hofstra Soccer Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. onWednesday, July 11.
"Now that we took the first step to be in the playoffs, it's only two games left in the regular season," Neeskens said. "We want to, of course, win both of them. I’m looking forward to the playoffs. I'm really excited."
Given what Neeskens and his teammates accomplished in 2015, who could blame him?