Many young athletes dream of playing for their hometown team. A youth football center may want to be the next Nick Mangold and play for the Jets, a young pitcher in little league may step on the mound and hope one day he’s doing the same thing at Citi Field as a Met, and you could have a young hockey player who skates around a local rink dreaming of playing at Nassau Coliseum as an Islander.
In the case of Aaron Dennis, his dream growing up in Elmont on Long Island was to play soccer for the New York Cosmos and now that dream is a reality. The 25 year old forward, who came up in the Cosmos Academy, has signed a contract for the 2019 NPSL season and the NPSL Founders Cup which will kick start a new professional league.
Dennis is excited to have joined the storied franchise.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play for the club professionally so no matter what league that is as long as I’m wearing the badge I’m going to go out and give my best,” said Dennis who was with the Cosmos academy from 2010 to 2011.
As the Cosmos continue to add players for the 2019 season, they are thrilled to add a local player like Dennis into the mix.
“It’s important to bring in local talent as we build our roster for the 2019 Founders Cup and NPSL season,” said Cosmos Senior Vice-President Joe Barone. “Aaron also has a history of playing in our organization with the Cosmos Academy and we always want to give those players an opportunity when available.”
Before the Cosmos returned to the professional pitch in 2013 after an almost 30 year absence to play in the NASL, former head coach Giovanni Savarese ran the academy and that’s when the organization first got a look at Dennis who would go on to captain the U-18 Cosmos team as well as some experience with the U-23 club. He would go on to play college soccer at Villanova but was able to come back to Long Island here and there to work out with the Cosmos.
And now he’s a professional Cosmos player.
“Sometimes during my college season I would train with the team and I loved the environment,” said Dennis. “Gio was a great coach so I’m just happy to be here.”
After college, Dennis played professionally for the Arizona United, Penn FC and Miami FC. Recently, he earned his first international call-up to play two games for his birth country the U.S. Virgin Islands in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying this past September. From college to the professional ranks to international play, Dennis brought with him a valuable lesson he learned while he was in the Cosmos Academy.
“The speed of play,” said Dennis. “It was my first experience in a professional environment so when I got to college I think I definitely had the right approach to the game.”
With the Cosmos, Dennis will play under Head Coach Carlos Mendes who captained the Cosmos from 2013 to 2017 and led them to three NASL Soccer Bowl titles and four appearances in the championship game. Mendes was the NPSL coach of the year in 2018 leading the Cosmos B team to a perfect 10-0-0 regular season and the North Atlantic Conference title before the season ended with a loss in the Northeast regional final.
Dennis is looking forward to learning from and playing for a Cosmos legend.
“I’m super excited,” said Dennis. Obviously he’s been around the game. He was the Cosmos’ first signing. He’s a nice guy off the field as well. I think I have a lot to learn from him and he should have a lot to teach me.”
Dennis will also learn a lot from current Cosmos captain Danny Szetela who was a teammate of Mendes during the NASL years and then joined Cosmos B last year. Szetela has re-signed with the Cosmos for 2019 and you can expect Dennis to pick his brain during off-season training and during the season.
“He’s another guy similar to Carlos,” said Dennis. “He’s been with the Cosmos for a long time and he has all of my respect.”
In any walk of life, dreams can come true. Who doesn’t go in their backyard as an eight, ten or thirteen year old and pretend to score the game winning goal in the World Cup, hit a home run to win the World Series, score the game winning touchdown to win the Super Bowl, tally the game winning goal to win the Stanley Cup or even to just play for your hometown team.
As a kid on Long Island, Aaron Dennis had a dream to play soccer for the most famous professional soccer team in United States history and now that dream is reality. Dennis now joins a club in the Cosmos with a rich history of players like Pele, Giorgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, Shep Messing, Marcos Senna and Raul.
And now Dennis will put that green and white jersey on just like the Cosmos legends of the past. Dennis is a member of the New York Cosmos. Welcome home Aaron!