Late in the season last year in a match against the San Antonio Scorpions, New York Cosmos fans watched and held their breath as Marcos Senna went down in the 69th minute and had to be assisted off the field after rolling his ankle. Senna would not return that match and would be out for next match as well. Thankfully for the Cosmos they would clinch their berth to the Soccer Bowl during this same match and it allowed them to rest Senna a week. It was this event however that reminded us for the first time all season that Senna is not as young as many of his teammates and that the Cosmos won’t always be able to start a side with Senna included.
So it was not to my surprise this week when Big Apple Soccer wrote an article about the possibility of head coach Giovanni Savarese managing Marcos Senna a bit differently this year so as to make sure he is fresh for the US Open Cup as well as a potential Soccer Bowl match up. While most agree that Senna is in outstanding shape, he will turn 38 this summer and from a coaching perspective, it is best to err on the side of caution especially when you are talking about your most influential player. With all this being said, who will step up and play the mid-field position should Senna need to be replaced. None of the mid-fielders on this team have the experience or length of time playing the position like Senna does. Danny Szetela typically lines up on the opposite side of Senna at the mid field position and was a great compliment to Senna for the better part of the season. Towards the latter part of the season Paulo Mendes and Sebastian Guenzatti received the call to lineup along side of Senna at the midfield position on his side. Both players had success and scored goals last season but can they handle the demands of a full season?
Two other candidates that may see some time as a result of Senna sitting out are Joseph Nane & Dane Murphy. Last season Murphy was the one to get the call when Senna went down with the injury in the match against the Scorpions. Unfortunately for Murphy and the Cosmos he drew a questionable red card and was shown a quick exit. Murphy is actually the most experienced of all the forwards next to Senna but does he have the same skill set that Senna does.
In my opinion the biggest void to fill when sitting Senna will be the ability he possesses as a free kick/penalty kick shooter. In my opinion there is no one else on the Cosmos that can shoot a free kick or a penalty kick the way Senna does. I vividly remember his free kick against the Rowdies that gave the Cosmos a 4-3 victory – it was an absolute gem that left the goalie standing still as he never had a chance at the ball (see video clip below – fwd to 0:50 of the video). Will Hans Denissen be able to nail the penalty kick when given the opportunity or will Mads Stokkelien come in and fill that void. Whoever the Cosmos call to take penalty kicks will have huge shoes to fill since Senna took each and every penalty kick during the 2013 season.
All in all the Senna Dilemma is one that the team will have to solve in short order. Just today Senna signed a contract extension with the NY Cosmos. This guarantees that he will be with the team through the 2015 season, at which point he will be 39 years old. Let’s face it Cosmos fans can’t see Senna being around much longer than 2015? In 2014 the Cosmos have a chance to begin molding someone to seize that opportunity while Senna is still around to show them how it is done. Who will step up to solve that dilemma?