Cosmos Have Some Catching Up to Do After Miami Loss

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By JAKE NUTTING

It took considerable work by many people to ensure the New York Cosmos were able to take the field on Saturday for their first home match of the year at MCU Park. The amount of effort to rescue the team that was at death’s door in December and fill its new home in Brooklyn was not lost on Cosmos Coach Giovanni Savarese.

“Being able to have this energy and the people that came, so much support, it’s been fantastic,” Savarese said. “Tonight was a great night to have our home opener after everything that happened outside the field. It was great to see how much effort was done to be able to bring the people and the energy was great, but unfortunately it was the kind of the match where our mistakes capitalized their result. It could have been a better match for sure.”

Before Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Miami FC, the Cosmos had not lost or been blanked in front of their home supporters since 2015. Savarese took a pragmatic approach to the defeat, acknowledging that the turmoil of the off-season has left the Cosmos behind the rest of the league in several areas as they continue to seek players.

“I don’t think that we’re ready yet,” he said. “I think what we’re doing right now is trying to build up or game and become better. … We made very basic mistakes and that’s how they capitalized. I think we need to be truthful to ourselves at the moment, and we need to grow physically. We need to grow as a team. That’s where we are right now. We are still building the team up as we still have some areas that we are weak and we need to reinforce.”

Missing the captain Carlos Mendes and attacker Irvin Herrera didn’t help matters. Without the injured Mendes on the back line, the Cosmos were frequently stretched by Miami’s attack. Herrera’s absence further hampered New York’s offense, which has now been held without a goal or a shot on target in two matches to start the North American Soccer League’s Spring Season.

The losses are frustrating for Savarese, as is the inability of players to put in a 90-minute shift because of a lack of fitness, but there isn’t much he can do right now other than be patient.

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Giovanni Savarese. Photograph by Matt Kremkau

“You wish the team would grow faster, but you need time in order to be able to get to the point where you need to get,” he said. “At the moment we’re still in the phase of balancing the team and making sure the team grows physically. Time is the only way that is going to help us to reach the point that we need to be.”

One of the newcomers to squad, midfielder Juan Guerra, is eager to get back on the field for a rematch with Miami next week. He and Javi Márquez had an underwhelming night dealing with Miami’s robust midfield.

“It was a shame that we couldn’t win,” Guerra said. “I know there’s a lot of people that are going to go home and they’re not going to be satisfied. I just want to tell them that we’re not satisfied as well. We want to build a championship team, but to win a championship, it has to be game after game. When you get bad results, you have to learn from them and just keep getting better.”

Fortunately for the Cosmos, the NASL’s format is forgiving, and they only have to look at the team that beat them for evidence. New York demolished Miami by an identical 3-0 scoreline early in last year’s Spring Season, spurring the South Florida team to retool and finish a few points shy of a postseason spot as one of the top teams in the Fall Season.

“Right now what we need to do is not look at the negatives,” Savarese said. “We need to look at the positives and where we need to be. We are realistic. We understand that there’s much work to be done and there’s many things that could be better, but the most important thing is the club is alive. The important thing is that we have a group of players that have a lot of heart for the club and they want to do well. We just have to continue to work.”