February 17, 2013
HOPING TO SIGN A FEW HOPEFULS
Coach Savarese says Cosmos should be able to sign some players from tryout
More than 200 hopefuls showed their wares and soccer skills to the New York Cosmos coaching staff at the North American Soccer League team's combine at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. on Saturday.
Head coach Giovanni Savarese, assistant coaches Carlos Llamosa, Alecko Eskandarian and Memo Valencia got an opportunity to watch and assess the players in the closed combine.
"It was a great day to see a lot of players," Savarese said. "The turnout was excellent. I think that we will definitely be able to sign a few players from this combine. Overall, it has been very good.
"It was pretty much what I expected. The players that I thought were going to do well did well. There were some surprises, both good and the bad, but overall it was what we anticipated. We had a good turnout of guys coming from overseas. I think that was very good from our part."
Because of the cold weather, the first day of the combine was held indoors with the players breaking into teams and playing small-sided games. Local college coaches such as Long Island University Brooklyn's TJ Kostecky and Hofstra University's Richard Nuttall coached the teams and helped run drills.
"We are looking for those players that definitely bring something different to the game. We want to see something that catches our eye," Savarese said. "The most important thing is to understand if they can play with a ball because we want to be a team that is comfortable with the ball. That's why we're playing in a small sided game first and then we are going a little bit bigger field and then to the full size field. Some guys can play well in tight space and some others can't."
The players came from a diverse range of backgrounds. Many players had local ties, having played for nearby colleges or in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League. Some players traveled from Europe or were standouts at the New York area grassroots soccer tournament, Cosmos Copa.
One of the players was Chelsea Moriken Sangary, a winger who played under Savarese on the Cosmos Under-23 team that participated in the 2011 Premier Development League season.
"It was only the first day but I think I did pretty good," Sangary said. "A lot of the guys are college players and some of them come from different cultures. I feel like it was a great thing today. I have been training for weeks for this. Even if it was raining or snowing, it didn't matter."
James Marcellin, a defensive midfielder who recently played with FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers, was also looked to earn a spot. "This was my first time playing in a combine but I played good," Marcellin said.
Teddy Niziolek has been a standout midfielder for NYC Poland, which reached the Cosmos Copa final the last three years. In 2011, he scored a remarkable goal from his own half of the field in the Cosmos Copa final that made it onto SportsCenter's top 10 plays.
"I thought the level of play today was pretty high," he said. "The players here are good technically but my work rate was high and I just tried to play to the best of my abilities. This combine has been well organized I am pretty happy how it's turning out so far."
The combine concludes Monday. The Cosmos plan to hold a series of open tryouts later in the spring.
The Cosmos will play their games at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra, beginning with the NASL's fall season, starting on Aug. 3.