July has never been an easy month for the Cosmos. After logging only one win between 2014 and 2015 (1-3-2), the Cosmos started off the Fall 2016 campaign on a positive note winning three in a row.
Then came a three-game road trip, seven goals permitted, three goals scored, and one point earned. However, with their shutout win over Puerto Rico, the Cosmos stand poised to make a strong run at August, playing four of their five matches at home after logging ten straight wins at Shuart, a Modern Era NASL record.
“Yes, 100%,” answered Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese after their win on Saturday when asked if the club took pride in their performances at home. “We know that playing at home, that we have to take advantage of the fact that we’re playing at home. It’s a different energy and we felt it today. We have to continue.”
Shuart Stadium has traditionally been a fortress for the Cosmos since their return. After compiling a 23-10-4 record in regular league play between 2013 and 2015, the Cosmos have been perfect at home in 2016, going 8-0-0 and allowing only two goals.
In a season where the Cosmos have won 7 road points of a possible 27, every single one of those home victories has been crucial in keeping them in their current position atop the fall and combined tables. Perhaps the most difficult part of their performance on the road was the aforementioned road trip. The Cosmos were set to win two of those matches before allowing late goals.
“It was a difficult month of July for us. Too many matches away, too much travel in difficult places. And we did fairly well and we didn’t come out with what I think we should have had. If we look at it, Edmonton losing at the last moment where we had the better of the play, the tie in Tampa at the last moment, not performing well against OKC, It was very difficult.”
The games also began to take a toll on Cosmos players, not least of all the captain. Carlos Mendes sat out the match against Puerto Rico, looking noticeably slower towards the end of the loss in Edmonton.
“He’s very healthy. He’s been playing many matches. We have pushed him a lot. And we felt as a staff that today was the perfect moment to be able to give him a little rest. That’s why we put him even outside of the 18. He needs to feel strong again,” said the coach. “He’s played with ankle pain and it was important for us to have him fresh and it was a good decision and now he’s going to be ready to continue to play.”
Now with four of their next five matches being played at home, the Cosmos will look to capitalize on their performance at Shuart, starting with a rematch against Rayo OKC. The coach thinks they have set the right tone with their win over Puerto Rico.
“Closing this month, at home, with this victory, was very important for us and now we have this stretch of home games in August and that’s going to be important for us.”