Cosmos Players Eager To Get First Preseason Game Action Underway

The club plays its first contest on March 15 followed by five other games in the coming weeks
Mar 15, 2019

 After almost 10 days of training, the New York Cosmos players are itching to get some outside competition.

They will get their wish and an opportunity in their first match of the preseason as they meet Hofstra University at Hofstra Soccer Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. on Friday at 5 p.m. The game is open to the public.
"I am very anxious to get on the field," midfielder Ricardo Bocanegra said. "Obviously, I want to get on the field to show what I'm all about. I am more than ready."
So are the rest of his teammates in what is expected to be a busy several weeks leading up to the National Premier Soccer League opener against the New York Athletic Club at Mitchel Athletic Complex here on Saturday, April 27.
"I'm excited about that," said forward Aaron Dennis, a graduate of Elmont High School. "The guys have been great. The coaches and [Cosmos Senior Vice President] Joe Barone did a great job of recruiting players. The locker room has been fantastic. A lot of laughs already, a lot of friends already. So, there's a great moral in the camp and a lot of good talent here as well. So, I think we'll be ready for that."
Carlos Mendes, entering his second season as Cosmos head coach, sees the first preseason match at multiple levels. He wants to see how game fit his players are and to make decisions on several trial candidates.
"The goal is that we want to get everyone at least 45 minutes," he said. "For most guys, just get them into the rhythm of the game speed and things like that and let us look at some guys that we still have in with us. It will be a good opportunity to see them in a game situation and then start to get our guys familiar with each other and look at players in different roles and how we feel like it's best to move forward.
"You want to take everything into consideration. The guys that are signed, the minutes you want to play, the system you want to play. It's a busy time. Everyone's done well. You want to be in a situation where you have a good group and have a lot of players playing and competing and that's what we have."
The squad began preseason at the Long Island Sports Hub in Syosset on Monday, March 4, due to some harsh, wintry conditions that would have made it difficult to practice outside. The team started training outdoors this past Monday.
"It's been good," Dennis said. "Even when we were at Syosset, it was a good time just getting to know the players, getting to know tendencies, how guys want the ball, just understanding your teammates. Now that we're outside in a bigger space, we've started to get a feel for the players more."
Bocanegra, who is slated to be a midfield leader, brings almost a decade of professional experience to the club. He has liked what he has seen.
"The guys seem to be enjoying it," he said. "The level seems to be very, very good. The tempo of training has been great. Guys are working hard. Now, you get outdoors, you get into a game situation, that will be a whole different feel. We have to now shift gears and think about the big picture and that's what we're doing this week and have our first test on Friday. We're excited."
Santiago Castaño is the lone goalkeeper signed to date. While he is expected to get playing time, he did not know how many minutes he would perform.
"That's a decision the coach will make the day of the game," he said. "We're just getting prepared and ready to go."
The Cosmos will play six local college teams this season. After Hofstra, they will meet Queens College on March 21, Adelphi University on March 26, LIU Brooklyn on April 5, Fordham University on April 10, and St. John's University on April 16.
"We will play a lot of local college teams that are always difficult to play against," said Mendes, adding that those schools are "well coached, well organized. For us having a new group and getting guys together, it's going to be a challenge. That's good. We want to put guys in tough situations. We want to put guys in game situations and see what they are about. We know about all of our guys who we have signed. This is the first step to get familiar with each other."
The Cosmos will participate in three competitions this year. Besides the NPSL, they will play their first-round encounter against an opponent and venue to be determined on May 8 in the Open Cup. After the NPSL playoffs, the Cosmos will compete in the very first NPSL Founders Cup. They open at Chattanooga FC on Aug. 10 before returning to Mitchel Athletic Complex to welcome the Milwaukee Torrent on Saturday, Aug. 17.
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