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Cosmos could be forced into a back three on Saturday

Mike Stobe

Injuries, loan recalls, and a suspension to captain Carlos Mendes have left New York Cosmos head coach Gio Savarese in a very sticky situation. The Cosmos still have two matches to play during the NASL fall season, and the possibility is still there to earn a home playoff match with a pair of wins in those fixtures. They'll be very, very short on defensive options for the first of those games though, their home finale against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night.

As mentioned earlier, Mendes will be unavailable for this one as he serves a one-game suspension for a red card in his last outing. His usual partner in the center of the defense, Roversio, will also miss this one with ongoing knee problems.

Jimmy Ockford would seem an obvious starter in this scenario, as he's preformed admirably when called upon since joining from Seattle on loan. Unfortunately, Savarese confirmed on Tuesday that the player might not be available either, though didn't get into the specifics of the injury he's dealing with.

Adding to the defensive shortage is the loan recall of Connor Lade. Lade played for the Red Bulls on Wednesday during the Concacaf Champions League, despite some verbal assurances from the club that he wouldn't be recalled after being loaned to the Cosmos. At the time of this writing, it's unclear whether or not the club have interest in bringing Lade back, or if he'd be fit enough to play on Saturday anyway.

With all of that in mind, the club could be looking at a very makeshift unit to face the Tampa Bay attack, and Savarese even hinted that we could be looking at a back three. Until the Ockford and Lade situations are resolved, the five options Gio has at his disposal include Hunter Freeman, Hunter Gorskie, Ayoze, Jim Nealis, and Jimmy Mulligan. Goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer might want to get some extra rest on Friday night, because he could be a busy boy on Saturday.