Carlos Mendes scores twice as Cosmos win opener

Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes #4 celebrates with Ayoze Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes #4 celebrates with Ayoze García Pérez #7 after scoring his second goal of the game against Atlanta on Sunday, April 13, 2014. Photo Credit: Daniel De Mato

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It took Carlos Mendes about 11 years to score his second professional goal Sunday night.

It took the veteran central defender only 15 more minutes to score his third.

Mendes, a native of Mineola, struck twice within a 15-minute span during the opening half to spark the Cosmos to a 4-0 season-opening win over the Atlanta Silverbacks in a rematch of last year's Soccer Bowl.

Mendes had some help as Ayoze and Mads Stokkelien, in his Cosmos debut, also scored for the defending North American Soccer League champions before 7,906 at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.

Mendes, 33, last found the back of the net with the Rochester Rhinos in the USL PRO league in 2003. But the Cosmos' captain put in a rebound of Marcos Senna's free kick that goalkeeper Derby Carrillo had saved in the 23rd minute.

After Ayoze doubled the lead in the 32nd minute, Mendes tapped home Ayoze's corner kick from eight yards out.

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"He almost got a hat trick. That would have been great," said Atlanta coach and former U.S. international scoring standout Eric Wynalda. "I probably would have killed myself if that would have happened."

When told of Wynalda's remarks, Mendes replied, "It seems a little extreme. It's great to get two goals. It's about the team winning, three points. Hopefully I've got a couple of more this year. But as long as we keep winning the games, that's all I'm worried about."

Mendes, clearly not known for his scoring prowess, even got some ribbing from his teammates.

"It's a little out of his element, but he'll settle into his role," goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer said. "We'll keep him in check."

A sharp Maurer kept Atlanta in check, making 12 saves in his first game as the No. 1 keeper. He denied Deon McCaulay and Kwadwo Poku seconds apart with the game scoreless in the 15th minute.

"It felt great walking out," he said. "It was funny though, when we left the team meeting I went the wrong way. I went the way the subs go and I had to turn around and go back the other way."

Cosmos coach Gio Savarese used social media to scout the revamped Silverbacks. He said his staff looked into Instagram pictures and practices via Twitter to "analyze each of their players they have individually and where they can fit on the field."

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