Cosmos aim to bounce back tonight against Chattanooga FC

Published Sep 24, 2020

The New York Cosmos' mission cannot be clearer on Friday evening: Win.

After dropping their opening match of the National Independent Soccer Association Fall Tournament, the Cosmos find themselves in a must-win situation if they have any illusions of reaching the knockout round.

They take on Chattanooga FC in their second Group B match at 5 p.m. Friday. Chattanooga FC (1-0-0 3, points) defeated the Los Angeles Force (0-1-0, 0) by a score of 2-0, after the Cosmos (0-1-0, 0) dropped a 2-0 decision to the Cal United Strikers (1-0-0, 3) at Keyworth Stadium.

Head coach Carlos Mendes said the team needs to get off to a better start tonight.

"We understand that this is a game that we have to win," said Mendes. "We knew coming in it wasn't going to be easy. We weren't at our level [on Tuesday]. We'll be ready for our match tonight. It's a must win for us."

The Cosmos got off to good start vs. Cal United before conceding a goal.

"It deflated us a bit," he said. "We lost a little bit of character. Credit to them, they did well. They took their chances when we weren't able to and that was the difference in the match."

Team captain Danny Szetela said there is pressure to continue the Cosmos' winning tradition.

"We're here to win," the Cosmos captain said. "We have the capability of doing that. There's definitely pressure now especially after losing the first game because we need the three points. It's going to be a tough game vs. Chattanooga but we have the confidence on this team from player one to twenty-five.”

"The coaches have the confidence in us to get the job done,” he continued”. Pressure is what makes players better and makes them perform at a higher level."

The Cosmos dominated possession against Cal United, but could not put the ball in the net. Finishing the chances they create is a point of improvement on Friday, said forward Bledi Bardic.

"We've been having chances," said Bardic. "When you get that first goal or second goal, your confidence goes high. We know what we need to do. We just got to go out there and hopefully score a goal early and take it from there."

Forward Shavon John-Brown feels that once the Cosmos find the net once, the dam could burst and more goals will come.

"I believe once you get one, you build confidence from the start," he said. "Coach always tells us when you're in front of the goal, just be confident, take the chances. As you saw, we had many chances in the beginning of the game. We didn't always do what we were supposed to do and then it came back and bit us. With the game tonight, we need to try to take the lead early and build confidence."

On September 12, Chattanooga FC rallied for two late goals to defeat the visiting Cosmos, 2-1, in the regular season. Mendes said he didn't anticipate changing much from that game for Friday's contest.

"They are a very good team," he said. "They fight and battle and are good on set pieces. It's a game that you have to be prepared for. For us, it's just about mentality and belief. If we stick to our game plan and we execute and we're clinical, then we're going to have a good chance to win. We're in a for a big match, against a team that's going to fight for 90 minutes."

Forward Isaac Acuna, who missed the opener due to complications with a cold, and midfielder-forward Darwin Espinal, who has battled injuries this season, are expected to be available, Mendes said. Acuna had to go through COVID-19 protocol and arrived here after the rest of the team.

"He wasn't feeling well,” said Mendes on the Mexican forward. “Everything is good so he'll be available for us," said Mendes."We're lucky to have him. He'll contribute the next two games."