Cosmos Not Letting Finals Hosting Situation Distract from Their Task

IMAGE, NASL

by JAKE NUTTING

If the New York Cosmos have any qualms about having to host this year’s championship final at Beslon Stadium rather than the stronghold they’ve built at Shuart Stadium, they aren’t letting anyone outside of the locker room know about it.

Head Coach Giovanni Savarese has proven time and again he’s a master at getting his players to put aside any distractions and show up for the big matches. This Sunday’s final at 2,600-seat Belson Stadium will be just one of many hurdles he’s had to navigate throughout perhaps his best year at the helm.

“The mentality of our players is in a state right now that it doesn’t matter where we play, it doesn’t matter what stadium,” Savarese said. “This final we’re just thinking about the game, what we need to do in the game wherever the game is going to be.

“So even though it definitely would have been a great situation to have played at Shuart Stadium, I’m very content with how the guys are approaching everything this year and especially this final — making sure they stay focused on the most important part and what we need to do on the field.”

It’s true that the Cosmos have not dropped a league match at home in over a year, but this weekend’s championship matchup with Indy Eleven will be their first ever league action at Belson. In fact, a heartbreaking collapse against MLS’ New England Revolution at Belson in June halted New York’s U.S. Open Cup run. That Open Cup loss is the only time the Cosmos have finished on the losing end of a match in New York in the last year.

Captain Carlos Mendes is still banking on their familiarity with Belson from several Open Cup matches and the energy from home supporters at the intimate venue to carry the Cosmos across the finish line.

“We’re familiar with the field and we’re still in front of our fans,” Mendes told Cosmos Country Podcast. “The atmosphere should be excellent, we’re all looking forward to it. Obviously it’s just a different venue, but we’re looking forward and like I said, I love playing there because it’s on top of you.

“It’s tight, it feels like a massive crowd. It’s loud, and that’s what you need in a final.”

Indy might also be hoping to capitalize on the coziness of Belson this weekend as a strong contingent of their most ardent supporters make their way to New York City by bus or plane for their team’s first ever championship final appearance.

While Indy are vying for their first league title, the Cosmos are hoping to lift their third Soccer Bowl trophy. The cosmic scales might say New York has had enough championship glory in the last four years, but this year’s squad is just as hungry for another taste.

After shattering last year’s single-season record for points, surviving the entire year unscathed at home and finishing first in the Fall Season and combined standings, the Cosmos have no desire to damage the legacy of this year’s season with a loss in the final. Midfielder Adam Moffat, who sat out last year’s final with an injury, knows their achievements this year won’t mean much if they can’t cap it off with a title this weekend.

“I think we’d prefer it to be at Shuart,” Moffat said. “It isn’t, that’s the situation. It’s one game. We’ve put so much work into this and we’ve had an incredible year, maybe the best year the team’s had, which is saying a lot because the team has had a few good years in the last four years. The only way that it can be better than those previous years is if we win the championship like we’ve done two of the last three… It’s just going out there and getting it done. We’re definitely capable of doing it, and for one game it really doesn’t matter where it is. Even if it was in Indy, we would still fancy our chances at winning it.”


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