What a roller coaster!
The New York Cosmos’ journey to its new home in Coney Island had so many ups and downs that team captain Carlos Mendes almost could not hold on. Just a few months ago, he was certain that his team and the North American Soccer League were on the brink of folding, but things changed in January when Rocco B. Commisso, the chief of Mediacom Communications Corporation, bought the Cosmos and took the team off life support. Suddenly, he had a job again and a championship to defend. Now, the 36-year-old defender is eager to do both, simply thankful for another shot at the game he loves.
“It was a very difficult time, a roller coaster of emotions,” Mendes said. “Guys had started thinking about the future and making decisions to move on and I was no different. I spoke to my family and thought about what was best for us and kept my options open.”
Commisso didn’t just keep the Cosmos alive, he’s helped spark a brand-new era for the historic club, moving the team to MCU Park this season. It’s a shift Mendes is excited about, anxious to bring the game back to Brooklyn.
“We’ve had good experiences there, and Brooklyn’s an incredible place,” he said. “It’s very diverse and the stadium is beautiful. It’s a new challenge, but that’s no different. We’re going to try and make it our home and we expect a good atmosphere there.”
Of course, it hasn’t been easy for Mendes — or his teammates — to just jump back into playing. Only a few weeks ago, Mendes was considering retiring from the game completely.
“For me, at this point in my career, I looked at all options, even retirement,” said Mendes, who became the first Cosmos player in the reboot era to see action in 100 games last season. “I’m 36 and I have a family — I have a son now. I had to think about that.”
Mendes did his best to stay focused throughout the offseason — spending time with his family over the holidays and working out whenever possible, but it wasn’t always easy to stay positive. When news broke that Commisso purchased the team — and announced he planned to keep head coach Giovanni Savarese on staff — Mendes quickly changed his tune.
He met with Commisso in late January and immediately knew that the future was bright in Cosmos country.
“They’ve done an incredible job,” Mendes said. “From the point when the team announced we were coming back, everything’s just kind of fallen into place. They’ve done an incredible job and we’ve got quality players.”
The Cosmos will head to Puerto Rico for a handful of preseason matches and training sessions before their opener on April 1 at MCU Park.