February 11, 2013
A NATURAL FIT
Mendes: playing in NY for the Cosmos was too good of an opportunity to pass up
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Carlos Mendes: “For me, it was a perfect move."
Photo courtesy of New York Cosmos
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
For Carlos Mendes, his return to New York was only natural.
The former Red Bulls defender had spent the entirety of his MLS career with the club until last year, when the Columbus Crew picked him in the MLS re-entry draft for a season. He made 12 appearances in Columbus across all competitions. But his heart was always in the tri-state area and in December, Mendes became the first player to sign with the Cosmos, a sign that the North American Soccer League team is serious about stepping right into the league and competing.
For the product of Mineola, N.Y. moving back near his Long Island home just made sense.
“For me, it was a perfect move. I was ready. I am thankful for the opportunity the Cosmos gave me now and Columbus last year and New York before that,” Mendes said. “This was just where I wanted to be. I had a good career in MLS but coming back home, being with this team with so much history and so much promise, it was something I couldn’t pass up.”
Mendes does boast a solid Major League Soccer resume, one with strong ties to the local area. After playing for the Long Island Rough Riders in 2002, when they won the USL second division crown, he parlayed two solid seasons with the Rochester Rhinos into a move up a league and seven-year career with the Red Bulls. He made 146 appearances and became a regular in the Starting XI.
The Cosmos boast some deep ties to the old MetroStars team that was rebranded the Red Bulls seven years ago. General manager Erik Stover held the same position with the Red Bulls and Giovanni Savarese, the Cosmos head coach, is a MetroStars legend.
At first blush, it might seem like Mendes was taking a shot at the Red Bulls when he signed with the Cosmos, becoming the first player signed in club history. That isn’t the case, he said.
“No, no shots were fired – no, not at all, definitely not," he said. "This was a move made entirely about what was best for me at this stage in my career, where I am and where I want to be. It was just too good of an opportunity to come back home and be playing in front of family and friends. New York gave me my first opportunity in MLS and they’re a tremendous organization with great fans and players. I had the opportunity to play some big matches with the team, play with some big players. I appreciate all they did for me. I will always have a special spot in my heart for them.”
As for the future of the Cosmos and the club’s desires of going to MLS someday, Mendes said that wasn’t a factor in his decision.
“That didn’t matter much to me," he said. "Obviously, I know that the Cosmos have ambitions but they also have this great history. It wasn’t a factor in my decision. I know that the people they have in place will do the right thing. I’m just excited to be here and be a part of it and do whatever I can to help the club.”