Mendes praises Bardic's confidence, updates on rest of forward line

Published Aug 17, 2020
For any player, scoring a goal can be a big confidence boost.
For a striker, it might be 10 times more important, given the nature of the position.
Add the fact that it was the New York Cosmos' first match of the fall season, and it was quite important for Bledi Bardic to score in the 1-1 draw with Michigan Stars FC in a National Independent Soccer Association match at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Saturday night.
"It's always important to score or assist but the most important is to get three points in the short season we have," Bardic said.
"Yeah, definitely it gives you confidence. Hopefully I can score again next game and keep this going or set someone else up with an assist."
Bardic scored in the 72nd minute to lift the Cosmos into a 1-0 lead.
"I'm very happy for Bledi. Obviously, it's a good confidence builder," head coach Carlos Mendes said. "He worked very hard."
In the match and in training as well.
"Bledi always has a great mentality," Mendes said, adding that he has been most impressed with Bardic's "movement off the ball."
"The runs he's made have been very, very good," he continued. "He has put himself in good spots. Even though we have some players out of the lineup, we knew he would be a very good option."
The 28-year-old striker had a few other opportunities, but did not convert, at least not officially. Bardic thought he had tallied in the 12th minute, but he was ruled to be offside.
"I thought it was 50-50 but he called offside," Bardic said. "If he counted that, which it was early in the first half, I think we could of win the match, but we can’t control referees."
Finding the net has been a challenge for the Cosmos in the three games. They have scored three goals in three 1-1 results, including two preseason contests.
The Cosmos always hold finishing drills during training. "It helps for sure but in the game, there is little bit more pressure, so it is different," Bardic said.
Mendes also has stressed to the team to take more chances.
"The main goal is to be hungrier and to be more aggressive in the attacking third and play with the freedom and the belief," he said. "If you attack things in good areas and make sure you have numbers in the box, you get bodies in the box, you'll have a good opportunity of winning in the game. Hopefully, when you're creating five, six seven chances, if we start executing a little bit more well put ourselves in a better spot."
The head coach is hopeful of regaining the services of forwards Isaac Acuna (hamstring injury) and Aly Hassan (father's funeral) for New Amsterdam FC at the Hudson Sports Complex in Warwick, N.Y. on Friday at 6 p.m. But he isn't about to rush anyone back too soon.
Acuna, one of the team's most dangerous players last season, injured his hamstring late last week.
"You want him back as soon as possible, but you have to be careful about not rushing, especially with such a short season," Mendes said. "If there is anything that seriously happens with any player, you could be missing not just the season, but the playoffs. We have to monitor that and see how he feels and make sure he's ready to come back."
Hassan was with his family in Florida for his father's funeral.
"Aly has to take the time he needs with his family in this difficult time," Mendes said. "I'm sure he'll be back sometime this week and we'll see how he feels physically, mentally. He needs some time when he decides to come back to get into some form and rhythm. That's fine. We'll be happy to get him back when he's ready."
If he can't use that duo, Mendes has plenty of options from which to choose.
"We have a deep team," he said. "We've signed a good roster, whether it's Bledi, Shavon [John-Brown] or young players that need to step up. They're going to have an opportunity. I'm sure guys are going to be excited to get that chance."
The NAFC game will be played behind closed doors, but will be available to Cosmos fans on MyCujoo on Friday at 6 p.m.