Cosmos defeat Silverbacks 4-0
The opening game at Hofstra had packed stands of residents from Floral Park, Franklin square, Elmont and Valley Stream. In fact, communities wore their colors and some high school students wore their game jerseys.
Many came to see the famed Pele' and watch professional soccer up close and they were treated to a first class show. The match started with local young soccer players marching on the field and State Senator Jack Martins presenting the Championship Cup to Pele'.
Martins called the experience "a true honor for a great team." Pele' thanked Martins for his support of the team noting, "your support has been great for the team. Our next stop is the Soccer Arena. You've been there for Long Island on this and all the jobs it will create."
The New York Cosmos may also have found their new scoring threat. Carlos Mendes, a local from Mineola and a central defender scored a first-half brace to help lead the defending North American Soccer League champions to a season-opening 4-0 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks.
He had a chance for a third in the second half, which would have been difficult for Silverbacks coach Eric Wynalda to take. “I probably would have killed myself if that would have happened,” Wynalda said. “Good for him. Sometimes you've got days like that.”
“That seems a little extreme,” Mendes said of Wynalda’s reaction. “It’s great to get two goals. Last year, I came close a couple of times and it feels good, but it’s about the team winning, the three points. Hopefully I have a couple of more this year, but as long as we keep winning the games that’s all I’m worried about.”
Mendes, who was awarded the first Emirates Man of the Match, received quite a bit of ribbing from his teammates in the locker room. “Carlos is a good guy, he scored a couple of goals tonight. It’s a little out of his element, but he’ll settle into his role,” goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer said. “We’ll keep him in check.”
Mendes got the Cosmos off to a big start in the 23rd minute, punching in the rebound of a Marcos Senna free kick from 19 yards. Ayoze doubled the Cosmos advantage nine minutes later, slotting in the blocked shot that came off of a Stokkelien attempt.
Mendes wasn’t done yet. He pinged in an Ayoze corner kick first time from eight yards to send the Cosmos into halftime with a three-goal lead.
“It’s something we’ve been working on in the training grounds and I think I was just kind of hungry for it, right place, right time,” he said. “It just fell into place.”Stokkelien capped the scoring in the 72nd minute, heading in a cross from Sebastian Guenzatti at the edge of the six-yard box.“
For a striker, you need to score goals. To score on my debut is great for me,” Stokkelien said. “When it goes a few matches without scoring, you start thinking about it and it becomes difficult, but now I can just relax and hopefully I will score more goals.”
While the game was a rematch of last year’s Soccer Bowl, won by the Cosmos 1-0, it was only a rematch in name. The Silverbacks have an almost completely revamped lineup, which caused Savarese and his technical staff to head to social media to get a scouting report.
“We looked into Instagram pictures, practices we could see through Twitter and then analyze each of the players they had on the roster, see them individually and where they could fit on the field,” Savarese said. “At the end we got only one wrong, which was good.”
There wasn’t much the Cosmos got wrong on the field, however. It was just the start the team needed in a short spring season.“
It’s very important for us to win every game, or at least to go with that mentality because every lost important is difficult in a season that is only nine games,” Savarese said. “We cannot afford to drop any, especially at home.”