Carlos Mendes. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495 Sports
The North American Soccer League unveiled its 2014 Best XI today which featured goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer and defender and captain Carlos Mendes of the New York Cosmos. The NASL Best XI is voted on by all 10 of the league’s head coaches and honors the best 11 players in the league each year.
Maurer recorded a league-high 11 shutouts in 24 appearances for the Cosmos in 2014. His 0.91 goals against average (GAA) was second highest in the league and he finished tied for second in the league in saves (67). Maurer posted a 10-7-6 record on the year and was named to the NASL Team of the Week twice during 2014.
This was Maurer’s first year as a fulltime starter for the Cosmos. Maurer made one start for the Cosmos in 2013, posting a 1-0 shutout victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks on November 2, 2013.
“It’s just a huge honor,” said Maurer on his selection. “The league was really strong this year. Thank you first and foremost to the team and our coaches – my goalkeeper coach, Memo Valencia. We do tons of video and training to help me get better every game.
“And credit obviously to our team for putting in all the work in front of me. They helped make sure shots were limited which is why we were able to get so many shutouts and keep our goals against average low.”
Mendes made 25 starts for the Cosmos in 2014 and was a key contributor to the team’s strong defensive performance throughout the year. The central defender played in the second-most minutes (2,238) on the team in 2014 and helped lead a backline that allowed the second fewest goals in the league (27). Mendes scored two goals and recorded one assist on the year and was named to the NASL Team of the Week a team-high five times in 2014. The Mineola, N.Y. native also took home NASL Player of the Week honors in Week 1 for his two-goal performance in the team’s 4-0 win over Atlanta.
Mendes was the first player to sign for the Cosmos ahead of the team’s 2013 re-launch season and was named the team’s captain. He made 13 appearances for the Cosmos during the 2013 season and was named to the NASL Team of the Week three times before leading the Cosmos to a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks in Soccer Bowl 2013.
“I’m excited to have been named to the NASL Best XI,” said Mendes on the distinction. “This award goes out to all the guys who have played alongside of me. We’ve worked hard all year, and they’ve been a big part of me winning this award.”
Maurer and Mendes played in every minute of the 2014 Spring season for a Cosmos defense that allowed just three goals in nine games and posted a modern day NASL record shutout streak of 372 minutes.
“It’s great to have two of our players make the starting XI for the year,” said head coach Giovanni Savarese on the accolades of Maurer and Mendes. “I’m very proud of both of them, and overall, the nomination of one or two players is always attributed to the hard work of our entire group. I’m proud of all my guys and what they did this year.”
2014 NASL Best XI:
Jimmy Maurer (New York Cosmos)
Tiago Calvano (Minnesota United FC)
Justin Davis (Minnesota United FC)
Darnell King (Fort Lauderdale Strikers)
Carlos Mendes (New York Cosmos)
Rafael Castillo (San Antonio Scorpions)
Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC)
Lance Laing (FC Edmonton)
Walter Restrepo (San Antonio Scorpions)
Fafa Picault (Fort Lauderdale Strikers)
Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United FC)
For more information on the New York Cosmos fans are encouraged to click here: