The New York Cosmos were calm and collected as they practiced at their training facility in Hempstead on Thursday.
They didn't look like a team that was defeated 3-1 in their last match and was fighting to stay in the hunt for the fall season championship. The Cosmos are eight points behind Minnesota United for first place in the NASL and host the spring season champions on Saturday at Hofstra.
"We know the importance of the game," Cosmos Head Coach Gio Savarese said following thursday's practice. "We know that we need to make sure we continue accumulating. We can not continue leaving some points here and there and this is a must, must win for us. It comes at a very good moment because it's a good opponent and for us we can send a very good message. But we're going into this game with a winning mentality to give it all."
The 2014 fall season has not been what the Cosmos were hoping for when it started. New York has gone 2-2-3 in their first seven matches and they have struggled to produce goals like they had done in 2013. So far in the fall season the Cosmos have scored two or more goals just once. That came in New York's 2-1 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks on August 9.
In comparison the Cosmos scored two or more goals three times in the spring season and did it six times in the 2013 fall season.
Savarese knows the ups and downs of scoring. As a striker in nearly every level of soccer in the United States, the Venezuelan native understands that some times players hit slumps in their offensive production.
"In my experience as a forward that once a team is having trouble scoring, or a player is having trouble scoring, the worst thing you can do is get frustrated," he said. "I think the most important thing is to do things that are going to improve the attack. Do things that are going to support the guys that are going forward and to find all the ways to be able to get into a good streak of goals.
"So for us, more than think about frustration we're trying to make solutions."
Minnesota enters Saturday's contest on a 10-game unbeaten streak, which was extended with a 5-1 win over Indy Eleven. The Cosmos need every point they can get and beating Minnesota would go along way to keep any hope for a fall championship birth alive.