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Danny Szetela's return to the Cosmos should provide the foundation for another title push

The Cosmos have added a pair of dangerous strikers this winter, but their best move was re-signing Danny Szetela

Mike Zarrilli

I have to say, I wasn't expecting Danny Szetela to be back with the Cosmos in 2014. When the club announced that he would be returning to the NASL for a second season, I just couldn't believe it. Szetela was immense during the stretch run last year, and had reportedly caught the eye of many MLS and European sides. I honestly believed that there was no chance he'd be returning to the NASL. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Szetela was a complete unknown for most fans when he joined the club. The 26-year old had not played professionally in over three years, as knee injuries had seemingly derailed his career. Gio Savarese had done his homework though, scouting the player in the U.S. Open Cup while he was playing with Icon FC.

The opener at Hofstra saw Savarese opt for a central midfield of Marcos Senna and Joseph Nane, and the pair looked like a dynamic partnership during that contest. Senna oozed class while dictating the flow of the match, while the big Cameroonian provided a matchup nightmare which Ft. Lauderdale looked poorly suited to deal with. After that display, it was no surprise that the same partnership started each of the next two matches.

Danny made a pair of appearances from the bench during the Cosmos' first road trip, and played quite well in both outings. When Nane was suspended after being sent off against Carolina, many assumed that Szetela was about to get his first start. Savarese, however, opted to have Hagop Chirishian partner Senna in the middle against San Antonio. At that point, I was left wondering if past knee injuries had left the player incapable of playing a full 90 minutes. Given his injury history, it was logical speculation.

Danny didn't remain on the bench for very long, however, as he was given his starting debut during the trip to Edmonton. New York settled for a disappointing draw in that match, but Szetela made his mark. He played the full 90 minutes, and proceeded to do the same in every other match during the title-winning campaign. That might well have been the best decision Savarese made all season.

What's clear at this point is that the Cosmos have a real gem on their hands in Szetela. He played well enough last season that he'd likely start at all but a handful of MLS sides, and there isn't currently a squad in the US that wouldn't be better with him in the mix. Retaining Szetela after his displays last season may be a more impressive feat than luring Senna to New York, and should provide the foundation for a club expecting to repeat as champions.

After shaking off over three years of rust during the Soccer Bowl winning campaign, it's very easy to believe that the best is yet to come from Danny Szetela in New York. He and Marcos Senna are easily the two most talented midfielders in the league, and now that partnership is returning intact for the entire 2014 campaign. That should be a terrifying thought for the rest of the NASL.