Photo courtesy of New York Cosmos
By DAN KARELL
Before they had played a game, before they had even finished building their roster, the New York Cosmos made it their goal to win the NASL Fall Season.
Last Saturday, the Cosmos realized their goal, defeating the San Antonio Scorpions, 2-1, in typical comeback fashion on the road. The win extended the team’s unbeaten run to ten games and gave the Cosmos a place in the NASL Soccer Bowl on November 9.
On Tuesday, in a small ceremony following training at the Cosmos practice facility in Hempstead, N.Y., the Cosmos were awarded the trophy and given a chance to lift it high above their heads as a reward for the team’s success this season.
“It feels great,” Cosmos midfielder Danny Szetela told SBI in a phone interview. “Our goal from the beginning (of the season) was to get to the Soccer Bowl and to win the fall season and that’s what we did. It’s another step towards the goal that we made ourselves, to win the Soccer Bowl, so now we have to continue to work hard and prepare for the game.”
One of the underlying reasons behind the team’s success all season is head coach Giovanni Savarese. In his first year as a head coach, the 41-year-old veteran of American soccer somehow managed to bring an entire team together and mold them into a unit.
Savarese’s calming influence on the squad is one aspect which veteran defender Hunter Freeman believes makes the difference with this squad.
“There’s been a few games that we’ve come in at halftime and for me as a player, I felt like he had every right to rip into us a little bit, and he never has,” Freeman told SBI. “Maybe the times where I personally thought he was (mad), he’s probably been the calmest.
“He always gives us confidence when we’re down or maybe we’re not playing good or just as a team we look like we’re frustrated, he just continues to tell us to do the things we’re good at. It’s definitely worked and it’s part of a successful season so far.”
NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson was on hand on Tuesday at the practice facility to present the Fall Season shield to captain Carlos Mendes.
“Winning this trophy and the right to play for the Soccer Bowl is a magnificent achievement by the Cosmos,” Peterson told NASL.com. “They had very little time to gel as a team on the field, but found an instant chemistry and lost only once on the way to winning the title.”