May 31, 2016
ONLY ONE THING ON HIS MIND
Savarese: Cosmos are only concerned about the Jersey Express, not about Saturday or NYC FC
By Michael Lewis
|Giovanni Savarese: "The main focus for us is tomorrow, it's not Saturday, it’s not the 15th because right it's the most important game for us."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Pardon Giovanni Savarese if he has tunnel vision these days.
The Cosmos head coach is thinking only about the Jersey Express.
Not the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and not New York City FC.
If the Cosmos get past the Express in the third round of the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night, then Savarese's thoughts will move onto the Strikers, whom New York plays Saturday night and he then will talk about the Major League Soccer side in the Open Cup's fourth round June 15. The Cosmos can clinch the spring title and a spot in the North American Soccer League playoffs with a win Saturday.
But until then the Express will be the only opposing soccer side he will be concerned about.
That's what he told his team before the 7:30 p.m. match at Belson Stadium at St. John's University in Queens.
"What I have said is very simple" 'There is no game ahead of us if we don't win this game. You can think about the next game, but that might not be there if you don't do the job against the Jersey Express,' " he said Tuesday. "So it's very simple for the team to understand. The main focus for us is tomorrow, it's not Saturday, it’s not the 15th because right it's the most important game for us to be able to execute and come prepared in what we will encounter in this game."
The Cosmos are taking this game seriously, giving their Premier Development League foes their proper respect.
“When you don't respect the opposition, you fail already from the beginning,” Savarese said. “It’s is a very important game. There's no tomorrow until you win this match. This is always the most difficult game. We played Jersey Express last year. We know they're going to be highly motivated and a definitely a strong match for us.”
New coach Julian Richens has revamped the Express, so only a handful of players remember the Cosmos' 3-0 win in the very same round on the exact same field last year.
"They are organized," Savarese said. "They have some interesting players that are very good and still can cause problems. Some of the players definitely have the talent to be able to go a little further. So they see this game that they can showcase their abilities."
As of Tuesday afternoon, Savarese had not determined which 18 players would dress for the game. The Cosmos had only 16 in uniform in the 1-0 home win over Rayo OKC Saturday night due to injuries and international call-ups. He was hopeful he will have a full complement Wednesday night.
"Of course we don't have the full squad," he said. "We have a lot of the players that have been playing, ready to step onto the field tomorrow. I don't look at this as a negative thing. The opportunities are for all the players to perform. In the end, we have to just do the job, whoever is going to step onto the field and whoever is going to sit on the bench."
Savarese will have to do a balancing act on the Starting XI's between Wednesday's and Saturday's. But he reiterated that he was only concerned about the game in hand.
"I'll make decisions [Wednesday] and then we'll see what comes after," he said. "We'll start planning on Thursday. Right now we're making decisions for tomorrow. It's the most important match. We take one game at a high and right now it's the Jersey Express.”
And no one else.
Yep, there's little doubt that Savarese has tunnel vision these days.