With an NASL match, Open Cup match and a high-profile friendly in Saudi Arabia all happening in the space of a week, TICC spoke with Cosmos Head Coach Giovanni Savarese on the challenges that lay ahead for the club.
“It’s been an interesting beginning from December to now and this month is going to make it even more difficult,” said the coach. “But we, as always, try to keep things very positive; try to see what we can make out what we have on hand.”
“In regards to the schedule, we cannot start thinking that we cannot do it. Now, we are on it. We decided to accept the situation and now we have to just manage the situation in a positive way. Of course, it’s going to be tough because it’s a busy schedule, but we have to figure out ways to make sure that we think of the health of the players now that they’re getting fitter, that they’re getting to a better stage.”
Concerns for the health of the players is not an understatement. Ayoze, while present at training, was still not in drills with the rest of the team. David Diosa was last seen on crutches. Amauri’s condition remains a mystery.
But, there is some good news as Carlos Mendes returned to the field last week. TICC also observed Eugene Starikov heavily involved in this week’s practice, suggesting it is possible he may see time this weekend.
“Eugene is gonna be back; he’s coming along. Mendes is doing very well so, we’re getting some guys back. Ayoze, I think, is not too long he’s going to be out. He’s getting very close, maybe for this weekend, we’re going to see. Amauri is still battling these personal issues he’s still having and right now, we’re supporting him. We don’t know if he’s going to be able to come back in time but, for now, he’s still battling this personal situation.”
The Cosmos will have a tight stretch of games across the next few days, hosting Puerto Rico FC on Saturday, then traveling to Reading, PA for an Open Cup match with Reading United and finally a 12-hour trip to Riyadh where they will play Al-Hilal in temperatures of approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit.But, Savarese believes the rewards to be worth it for the club and that the responsibility falls on the shoulders of him and his technical staff to ensure the Cosmos balance it properly, something they have done in previous years.
“I think it’s always good when you can compete in important matches, when you’re invited to play against good teams in countries like Saudi Arabia where we got an invitation and it’s unusual to receive this kind of invitation. So, you feel proud to be part of this club and proud to have these opportunities.”
“There’s more that I need to do in order to make sure that we balance these trips and these games but, in the end, I think this opportunity was very important, was very big and we have to now try to make sure that we’re also thinking for the health of the players. So, that’s our job in the technical staff, to balance that situation out.”