Cosmos Dominant In Season-Opening Win

Cosmos, Szetela
Danny Szetela salutes the crowd. Photo: New York Cosmos.

A clean sheet, goals from players with strong Long Island connections and a strong turnout by the fans were among the highlights of the New York Cosmos 2-0 win over New York Athletic Club (NYAC).

The opening match of the Cosmos 2019 NPSL campaign at Mitchel Athletic Complex had an announced attendance of 3,750.

On the offensive side, goals by Elmont’s Aaron Dennis in the 17th minute and former LIU Post standout Charlie Ledula in the 77th minute provided the home side all the scoring it needed. Keeper Santiago Castano recorded the first clean sheet of his Cosmos career.

“I thought it went well,” said Danny Szetela, Cosmos team captain. “I thought it was the best we played so far, including preseason games. But there are still some areas we need to improve. We were the better team for most of the game. I think our score should have been higher, but at the end of the day, we got the three points and we’re happy.”

Dennis, a former Cosmos Academy player, converted a Joey Sanchez (Uniondale) feed past NYAC goalkeeper Laurence Girard in the 17th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.

The former Elmont High School star said he was “super happy” scoring.

“I thought about it all week,” he said. “I had a good week of training. I’m happy to get on the scoresheet, but more importantly, I am happy we got the three points. I was a little rusty. There’s a lot to improve on for me and the team, but we have a lot of time.”

While the Cosmos dominated the match and outshot NYAC 22-2, it was unable to extend its one-goal lead until Ledula converted in the 77th minute. He replaced midfielder Ricardo Bocanegra in the 75th minute.  

On the goal, the London, England-native trapped a ball sent in from center back Emmanuele Sembroni, turned and fired a 17-yard shot past Girard.

“I was just ready,” he said. “Carlos [Mendes, head coach] told me, ‘As soon as you get on, just try and be direct, try and score and try and take your chances.’ That’s the first opportunity and I just took it.”

Szetela also took a moment to recognize the strong fan support at the team’s season-opener.

“The atmosphere was great,” Szetela said. “This will be my seventh season with the Cosmos, and I’ve got to say that the crowd has been the best we’ve had in the last three to four years.”

The Cosmos will meet Kingston Stockade FC in its first away match of the season in upstate New York on Saturday, May 4, at 6 p.m.

New York’s next home match will be against Black Rock FC in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The May 7 match will be played at Rocco B. Commisso Stadium at Columbia University in New York City at 7:30 p.m.

The green and white will return to Mitchel Athletic Complex on Saturday, May 11, to welcome Boston City FC for a 7 p.m. kickoff.