Forward Bledi Bardic and defender Harri Hawkins received call-ups to the New York Cosmos first team following spending the 2017 NPSL season with New York Cosmos B.
The promotion to the first team symbolized a great moment in both players’ careers, and it’s one they cherish.
“It was an absolutely brilliant moment for me,” Hawkins said on signing with the Cosmos first team. “Making the first step on the ladder in my career is great.”
“It was a good feeling,” Bardic said. “It’s always your goal when you’re on the second team to get on the first team, so it was great for me.”
Hawkins joined the New York Cosmos organization following his time in college with Hofstra, where he consistently shone for the Pride. The English defender was an all-CAA First Team selection three years in a row, winning CAA Defensive Player of the Year during his senior season.
From there Hawkins was a mainstay in the Cosmos B backline during the NPSL season, and his experience there helped him get ready for his chance for the first team.
“The B team is very well run with a brilliant coaching staff,” Hawkins said. “It was a very good setting, it was a perfect way to prepare a player for the first team.”
Hawkins’ performances with the B team were certainly stellar, with the center back helping the team give up just eight goals against on the year, with the Cosmos B squad recording six clean sheets in the 2017 season.
Now that he’s up with the first team, Hawkins wants to do everything he can to earn a spot in the XI.
“I want to break into the matchday squad,” Hawkins said. “I want to get as many minutes as possible, that’s why I’m here.”
The second player called up to the first team, Bledi Bardic, has gotten minutes in his first few matches with the team, and his first start was one to remember. Eleven minutes into their match with Miami FC, Bardic launched a half volley into the back of the net, putting the Cosmos up by what would be a decisive 1-0 margin.
“It was the greatest feeling,” Bardic said. “When you score a goal in the first game you started in and help your team win, it’s great.”
Bardic came to the Cosmos after playing professionally in his home country of Montenegro; he also trialed with MLS side NYCFC in 2014 and played with Puerto Rico FC in 2016. Before that, Bardic starred in the NPSL for Clarkstown SC Eagles, notching 12 goals and two assists in nine appearances.
For Bardic, the NPSL helped him keep up the competitive edge to stay ready for his first team opportunity.
“Playing in the NPSL gave me a lot of confidence,” Bardic said. “It’s very competitive. The NPSL is very good league, especially for young players who want to go pro. It did a great job preparing me for the first team.”
Now that Bardic has gotten a chance to see the field, he’s looking to keep pushing and improving.
“I want to play as well as I can,” Bardic said. “Whenever I get my chance, I want to try my best, score goals and help my team win.”
Near the halfway point of the fall season, the Cosmos are looking to keep pushing for a playoff spot, currently sitting in the fifth spot with 31 points, just one point behind challengers North Carolina FC and Jacksonville Armada FC.
Cosmos Head Coach and Sporting Director Giovanni Savarese believes this pair can help the team throughout the home stretch of the season.
“Bledi and Harri have worked very hard since the beginning of the season to earn a spot in the first team,” Savarese said. “We are confident they will add value and depth to our squad.”
With Hawkins and Bardic providing consistent solid play on both sides of the pitch, the Cosmos can feel comfortable and confident in their depth as they finish out the NASL season.
Photos Courtesy of New York Cosmos