Match Preview: Cosmos look to return to winning ways in local derby

Kickoff is slated for 6:00pm Friday night and the match can be streamed on MyCujoo
Published Aug 20, 2020

Given that the National Independent Soccer Association fall season is a short one, the New York Cosmos face a must-win situation against New Amsterdam FC on Friday night.

"It's massive for us," Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said. "After tying with a late result at home in first game of the season, we have to make sure we regain that winning mentality and building confidence that way."

The Cosmos visit New Amsterdam, which will make its NISA Fall Season debut, at the Hudson Sports Complex in Warwick, N.Y. Friday at 6 p.m. It will be a closed-door match, but fans can catch the action on MyCujoo.

In a preseason encounter, the Cosmos played New Amsterdam to a 1-1 draw in the NISA Independent Cup at the same venue on August 2. Mike Bello tallied the equalizer 16 seconds into stoppage time.

For center back Matt Lewis, there’s extra incentive to get all three points tomorrow night. Following the draw, Lewis noticed how loud the music was in the New Amsterdam locker room.

"We kind of have a sour taste in our mouth with them because of the way they celebrated," Lewis said. "Obviously, it's an exciting time for them. The first game against us and they get a result. As a Cosmos player, we're never really celebrating a tie. We're ready to get back on the field and play them again. We feel like we didn't take care of business the first time so we're looking forward to do it this time."

Added Mendes: "When you're playing games at the professional level and you're the New York Cosmos, everybody is going to come to beat you and bring their A game. I don't think you need much more motivation other than that."

Without playing a game, New Amsterdam already had suffered one loss as coach Eric Wynalda abruptly left the club last Monday. Mendes said that he was "surprised when things like this happen quickly. You hope everything is OK. Wish him the best."

Sporting director Max Mansfield was named interim coach, but regardless of who pulls the string – Mendes had some cautionary words about New Amsterdam.

"It's a hard-working team, highly motivated," he said. "They have a lot of fight. Against us, they clearly didn't give up anything. They continued to play late in the game and that cost us. It's focusing in on what we do well, bringing our style and making sure we execute with the little details. If we can do that, we can be successful."

Center back Emmanuele Sembroni expects one tough battle.

"It's definitely going to be a great game because they are a very physical team," he said. "They're going to give everything they have. They're going to battle. It changes when you play a regular season game from a cup. These are points that you got to get."

Tomorrow’s match also marks the first regular season derby match between the two sides – which adds fuel to the fire for Sembroni.

"Very excited," Sembroni said. "We have respect for them. They have respect for us. It's an interesting game. It's going to be fun to watch."

Additionally, Mendes is determining whether strikers Isaac Acuna and Aly Hassan will participate tomorrow night. Acuna, who scored in the 1-1 tie with Maryland Bobcats FC in the cup, suffered a hamstring injury during training last week.

"He's coming along," he said. "We'll have to see. Our biggest concern with anybody, especially with Acuna, is that you just have to make sure with the hamstring injury that they're 100 percent ready to play and that you don't rush him back early. We just have to be very, very cautious about it because if anything does happen to him, it could be a long-term thing."

Hassan, who was in Florida for his father's funeral, returned this week. The team was waiting for the forward to clear COVID-19 tests so he could resume training again.

"We'll have to see where he's at mentally, physically once he gets cleared to come in," Mendes said. "We'll have to make a decision to see where he's at."