Plewa Prepares During Unconventional Offseason

The defender is anticipating his Cosmos debut
Published May 13, 2020

Konrad Plewa just might be the definition of persistence and resilience.

While playing for New York Red Bulls II four years ago, he suffered a surprising stroke during the middle of a USL Championship season. Some six weeks later, the newest New York Cosmos' defender was back on the field competing in a match.

"It was something unique that happened," he said. "I'm just very lucky that I was able to recover as quickly as I did to be able to still be playing. Any time someone goes through that, you never know the kind of comeback. I’m counting my blessings."

Doctors determined that the cause of the stroke was a deficiency of Protein S, which prevents blood clotting. Plewa left the hospital four days later after going through several tests and blood work to determine the cause of the stroke. In the playoff semifinals, Plewa converted the game-winning penalty kick in the shootout in a win over the Rochester Rhinos. Red Bulls II went on to win the title.

The center back has always loved training for and playing the beautiful game. What he experienced during the summer of 2016, only gave him a greater appreciation of it.

"I do definitely feel blessed having gone through everything," he said. "I thank God for every time I step out onto the pitch, I remind myself that, too. When I get out, the first thing I do is thank God for another opportunity to be able to step out onto the pitch."

His most memorable moment was being among the starting XI for the Red Bulls' first team in a 2015 International Champions Cup match against then English Premier League champion Chelsea.

"It's a special memory for sure, a lot of fun," Plewa said. "You've got your parents in the crowd, watching the game against a team such as Chelsea. It was an awesome, awesome experience."

Plewa, 28, who calls Wallington, N.J. home, will bring the Cosmos plenty of experience on the backline. After the one-time Seton Hall University standout left Red Bulls II, he played with St. Louis FC in 2017 and the Real Monarchs the last two seasons, helping the latter side win the 2019 USL Championship crown.

His goals are simple and direct - win, which fits perfect with the Cosmos' philosophy.

"I've had conversations with Carlos [Mendes, head coach], leading up to me signing," Plewa said. "My intention is to win. That's my goal. We're playing in NISA this season. I feel fortunate to be doing it for the Cosmos and wearing the Cosmos shirt. I hope we get to accomplish big things together and we win the league and have a successful season as we possibly as we can as a team."

With the Cosmos hoping to return to training for the National Independent Soccer Association season sometime in June, every player must keep reasonably fit on his own. That hasn't been lost on Plewa, who opened up an athletic facility in Elmwood Park, N.J. with a friend where they train players on an individual basis. With that venue closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Plewa and his business partner have been able to train on their own.

"We are trying to maintain our sharpness and getting our technical work in," he said. "I've been trying to do my best to be as sharp as I can be. That is difficult. I've had the luxury to have a little place to get some work in."

The NISA fall season is slated to kick off in August.

If Plewa had his way, he would begin team training with his new teammates yesterday, but he has realized that everyone's health is most important.

"We're excited," he said. "Just the other day I was texting Danny [Szetela, Cosmos captain] about when is this this going to get started. We're all itching to get back and get on the field. Things need to work out first. Health comes first. Once we get the OK, [make sure] everybody's comfortable to coming back in, I'm sure we'll go through our proper testing protocols, make sure everybody's OK and then we'll get back out there. We understand that we are under uncertain circumstances. None of us have been through anything like this before, so we've got to make sure everybody is OK and healthy."