Head Coach Mendes Looks Forward to Independent Cup

Published Jul 30, 2020

As he puts the final touches to his team’s preparations for the NISA Independent Cup, New York Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes has two goals: get the squad ready for the fall season and win the Mid-Atlantic Region competition.

The two might not necessarily go hand-in-hand because the Cup will be the Cosmos' first matches outside of their workouts at the Mitchel Athletic Complex the past month.

The Cosmos open their Cup participation against fellow National Independent Soccer Association side New Amsterdam FC at the Hudson Sports Complex in Warwick, N.Y. on Sunday, Aug. 2 at 6:45 p.m. All NISA Independent Cup matches will be played behind closed doors.

“I’m looking forward to it," Mendes said. "After training for a while and the guys working hard, it'll be great to just get into a game environment. We're lucky to have the opportunity. Very excited and looking forward to getting back into a game situation. It’s the ultimate opportunity for the players and for the coaches to see the level we’re at and what you have to work on to get prepared for the season."

Given the Cosmos’ history of winning championships and collecting trophies, the three games won’t be just about getting players minutes and making sure everyone is on the same page.

"We're going into this to win. This is a tournament," Mendes said. "We're playing for something. We want to be competitive and win. That's the mentality and the focus. This might not be league play, but it's still playing for something every time we step on the field. We're going to have an opportunity to see where we're at, to compete to win some games hopefully. It’s a good challenge."

The Cosmos are slated to play New Amsterdam FC, which will be based in New York City, at least once during the regular season, so the encounter will give both teams an opportunity to learn about each other.

"We'll have a look at each other and see what the base of the team will be," Mendes said. "It's definitely an opportunity for both sides to have an understanding and a feel [of each other]. We know where we are and I'm sure they are as well.”

Mendes added that he and the coaching staff were “still working on things and getting to know the overall roster and things that you would like to do throughout the season. We want to use the opportunity to get guys minutes and kind of look at different situations."

The Cosmos will continue in the competition next week in Leesburg, Va. as they will meet a pair of top amateur teams from Maryland - FC Baltimore Christos on Thursday, Aug. 6 at 8:45 p.m. and Maryland Bobcats FC on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 7:45 p.m. at the Evergreen Sports Complex in Leesburg, Va. The Bobcats have applied to join NISA.

"These games are going to be a very good challenge and a test to see where we are at," Mendes said. "It won't be easy. All teams are moving forward to win games and be competitive and that's what we want. The guys have been working hard on the training ground. Now we're going to apply the things we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks into game situations against good teams.

"For us to be successful and if we want to win these games, we have to be at our best and making sure we're mentally and physically prepared at a very good level."

Because this regional competition had to be moved and postponed for several days, the Cosmos won't open the NISA fall campaign on Aug. 8 as originally planned. Instead, they will kick off the season the weekend of Aug. 15. The Fall Season schedule is expected to be released by NISA later this week.

All NISA Independent Cup matches will be streamed for free on the league’s website.