Carlos Mendes Reaches 100, Cosmos Show Balance in Edmonton Draw

IMAGE, STEVE HAMLIN/COSMOS COUNTRY PODCAST

by JAKE NUTTING

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – It goes without saying that the New York Cosmos would have preferred a win on Saturday night in their scoreless draw with FC Edmonton.

That said, the clean sheet earned on the night that captain Carlos Mendes made his 100th appearance for the club was still seen as a fitting result in the locker room.

“I think it was the perfect match today to show the importance of [Mendes’] play to the team,” said head coach Gio Savarese. “I think he played a tremendous match for his 100th, which I cannot believe we have already reached that number. I’m just proud of what he’s accomplished because he was our first player. He has given so much and he showed today why he’s an important player for us.”

Led by Mendes, the Cosmos back line limited the Eddies to just four total shots on the night, just one of which required a save out of keeper Jimmy Maurer.

“It feels great,” said Mendes after being named Player of the Match. “It’s special anytime you can be able to have the confidence of the coaching staff, the front office, and to be able to stay health and get to 100 games… I think the way we’re playing, with the momentum, and being difficult to break down, keeping the zero is important. That’s the key moving forward. But today was definitely a special night in front of my family, friends and the fans that have been here since day one supporting.”

With Saturday’s draw marking the Cosmos’ fourth straight shutout, all indications are the team’s defense could be rounding into championship form as the Fall Season winds down. While they may be frustrated to not have found a winning goal this weekend, maintaining their defensive shape in the late stages was viewed as its own victory after the late collapses in their two loses to Edmonton earlier in the year.

“As I said to the players, in the Spring Season this could have been a match that we lost,” said Savarse. “When you’re trying and trying and it doesn’t go in, it takes only one counter for you to be under.

“For us to have the maturity to continue to go forward, to try and find the goal, but always being well-balanced to not give them the chance to score. We have to look at that as a very positive point. It’s a good thing because it takes away two points from Edmonton, as well.”

There was cause for concern just ten minutes into the match as the perennially injured Roversio was taken off only a week after his first 90-minute shift of the year. Savarese stressed the substitution was precautionary, but the performance from David Ochieng might assuage any lingering fears about Roversio’s fitness.

The Kenyan international hasn’t made many starts in his first year with the Cosmos, but he’s been a steady option when called upon and has seemed to grow in confidence as the year has worn on. The 23-year-old defender credits the seasoned Cosmos captain with his adjustment and development since joining the Cosmos.

“For me, he’s the coolest guy around,” said Ochieng. “Every time, he’s ready to give you advice, and in the game too, he’s always ready to help me out.

“He has meant a lot to me and seeing him having his 100th game, I’m really happy for him.”

Ochieng stepping up to contribute is one of a few examples of the Cosmos getting past significant losses, this year whether they be trough injuries like Roversio, or transfers like Hunter Freeman. The depth across the board and an all hands on deck attitude has even made provided some added stimulation to Mendes in his fourth year with the club.

“That’s why I think this team is exciting,” he said. “We’re the deepest team we’ve had since I’ve been here since the start. I think we’re maturing and improving every game and that’s key. Hopefully we’ll be playing out best at the end of the season.”