Giovanni Savarese’s New York Cosmos were hoping to inch closer and closer to a berth in the 2013 Soccer Bowl with a victory over Minnesota United FC in NASL action on Saturday as the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn.
“If you’re talking about competitively, I think it’s the biggest game this year,” United manager Manny Lagos said on Friday to Jon Marthaler of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “If you’re talking about a game that’s both competitively important, and that nostalgically connects some of the dots about a great legacy of soccer here in Minnesota and an amazing Cosmos legacy that is trying to reinvigorate itself, I think yes, from that standpoint it’s an exciting weekend.
“The big thing for us looking at them, and particularly [looking at] the energy they have coming off a comeback win at home, is to make sure that we possess the ball in good spots on the field. They tend to pressure high on the field, and we have to make sure that we deal with that the right way, in that sometimes we have to play out of it through possession to get our chances, and sometimes we have to be compact defensively and win second balls and go from there.
“I think the big thing for us is to make sure that we’re organized and keep our shape defensively, and when we go forward, we do it with the energy required to make them feel the stress.”
For Cosmos defender Marcos Senna, he knows that winning championships is not something that can happen overnight.
“It’s everything step by step,” Senna told Michael Lewis of Big Apple Soccer. “Even when I came here I was interested in the project that the Cosmos had presented. I was very, very comfortable with the coaching staff. That’s another reason; their work ethic and the project that they had to have me come over.
“That is showing now why the team is in first place. Again, step by step. We have an important game at Minnesota that we have to focus on. Winning the tournament first, once we get there, then we will focus on Soccer Bowl as well. So it’s all step-by-step.”
“I think leadership and experience are very important,” added midfielder Danny Szetela. “I think that you can tell since our first game it’s wearing off on everybody. Everyone’s stepping up to the plate and their character has becoming bigger in every game.
“You can tell by the last game when we’re down 3-1 [to Tampa Bay]. Everyone just came together and guys in different position with different experience. We put that all together and we came back and got three points that we needed.”
Paulo Mendes was the hero for the Cosmos in the 53rd minute, scoring on a breakaway to give the Cosmos an important 1-0 victory over Minnesota United. With the victory, the Cosmos’s winning streak hits four and on Oct. 12, they will face the Carolina RailHawks in another contest that could determine the winner of the Fall 2013 season.
Carolina are the only team to have defeated New York (6-3-1, 21 points) all season, and if the Cosmos succeed in exacting payback, they will have all but punched their ticket to the Soccer Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and will be televised by SNY and One World Sports.