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Cosmos' Paulo Mendes faces twin brother for first time

Cosmos midfielder Paulo Mendes collides with FC Edmonton

Cosmos midfielder Paulo Mendes collides with FC Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker in the first half of a NASL soccer game at Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University. (Oct. 20, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

When the Cosmos visit the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday night, the Mendes twins could face each other for the first time.

Paulo Mendes performs for the Cosmos, and Pedro, five minutes his senior, plays for Atlanta. The 23-year-old brothers are fraternal twins.

They had played together all their lives, being named San Mateo County (Calif.) boys soccer co-players of the year in 2009. Paulo left the Silverbacks to play for the expansion Cosmos this season. Regardless what transpires Saturday, the teams and the Brazilian natives will meet again next Saturday at the same venue for Soccer Bowl, the North American Soccer League final.

Did you and your brother always play together on the same team?

This is the first time we're not together, so I am adapting to it . . . It's strange because you are always with someone. You grew up together, you shared the same room. We're not close for the first time. It was kind of weird. He's a forward and I'm a midfielder. So I always played behind him, giving him the ball to score. He actually has scored a little bit more than me since he's a forward. I had always given him the ball . . . After a game, we'd make jokes. "I gave you the ball and you won't score without it." We'd always joke around.Have you been in contact with your brother after the Cosmos booked a spot in Soccer Bowl?

Yeah, we talk every day. I told we're coming for him [laughs]. It would be good to win at their house, where I basically started playing. He didn't say much. He's quiet a little bit. But we joke around. We don't have a rivalry against each other. We just play, do the best for our team and see what happens.

How significant is the Cosmos reaching the final in their first season back?

It's great for the team, especially with the history the Cosmos have. Everyone knew our name. So going out there and proving a point was great. I think it's just going to grow from here.

What was it like playing for former U.S. international striker Eric Wynalda, the Silverbacks' technical director, and what did you learn from him?

He's actually one of my good friends. Eric's a great guy. He helped me a lot and he is still helping me out. He taught me a lot, helped me get focused and mentally in it. I am thankful for that. We talk [regularly]. Right after we clinched, he texted me to congratulate me. He said good job.

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