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June 1, 2016
Cosmos derail Express, 2-0, move on to play New York City FC in Open Cup fourth round once again

Ayoze scored in the 35th minute to start the Cosmos on their way to a 2-0 win over the Jersey Express.
Ayoze scored in the 35th minute to start the Cosmos on their way to a 2-0 win over the Jersey Express.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis Editor

QUEENS, N.Y -- Here we go again.

For the second consecutive year, the Cosmos will take on New York City FC in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup.

The Cosmos made sure of that, registering a 2-0 triumph over the Jersey Express in the third round of the competition at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John's University Wednesday night.

Left back Ayoze and second-half substitute Yohandry Orozco scored to goals and reserve goalkeeper Brian Holt recorded the clean sheet.

The result propelled the Cosmos into the fourth round against City at Fordham University on June 15.

Needless to say, the Cosmos were looking forward to another confrontation with NYC FC. They battled back from a two-game deficit at Hofstra University in 2015 to walk away with a shootout win.

"It was a crazy game, a crazy ending, but the guys still came together," Cosmos forward Lucky Mkosana said. "We know what we want."

That would be another victory.

"I will always say, these are the games that are the most important," Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. "These are derbies. These are games that make this sport grow. You don't have to motivate the players because they already understand the magnitude of this match.

"For us to be able to play against New York City again is going to be exciting for the players. We are looking forward to it. We know it's going to be a different game. but we'll prepare accordingly for this match, which will be enjoyable for everyone who will be there."

The match is a City home game. The team usually calls Yankee Stadium home, but has decided on Fordham in the same borough.

Asked if he would rather have had the game at the stadium, Savarese replied, "At the end that is not in my control. In my control is that we're going to have a prepared team to play against them. Anywhere, any stage, any situation for us is the same. We're going to play and we're going to try to go through."

Captain and center back Carlos Mendes, who has played in more than his share of matches with the Cosmos against the Red Bulls and NYC FC, was looking forward to the encounter.

"It's an exciting game," he said. "I think the fans will be up for it. You have two teams that are very close to each other. It's always fun to play. It should be a great atmosphere and I'm looking forward to it."

For the second year in a row, the Cosmos met the Express in the third round at Belson. Prior to the match, Savarese warned about being complacent against the Premier Development League side.

"For me its always the toughest one because you get a lot of times teams to be able to overlook it, to think that we're better," Savarese said. "If we don’t have the mindset to come here and respect the opposition ... then at the end we didn't do the job.

"Because we came here mentally prepared, that's why we were able to control the match and score the two goals. Probably we could have had a little more."

The Cosmos dominated possession and the opportunities while Jersey tried for counterattacks by using the speed and craftiness of forward Ansger Otto. He had problems breaking through, although he did force Holt to make a vital save in the 89th minute as the keeper leaped to deny the Express player's 18-yard effort at the left post.

"We knew we would have possession," Mendes said. "But if you're spread out, if you're not disciplined, they can hurt you. Obviously, they had some speedy guys. They looked for the counter. For the most part I think we did well. But we have to be a little smarter with the ball and more disciplined. Overall, a good performance. Things we can improve on and we have to improve on for the next game."

Ayoze finally broke the ice in the 35th minute as he powered a 22-yard free kick from atop the penalty arc past goalkeeper David Greczek and into the upper left corner for his first goal of 2016.

Orozco, who came on for Ruben Bover in the 64th minute, gave New York some breathing room in the 72nd minute. Despite being the smallest player on the field at 5-5, the Venezuelan headed home a right-wing cross from Hunter Freeman from four yards at the far post.

It turned out to be the second header of Orozco's career.

“It's funny right before I entered the match, I was joking with [teammate Juan] Arango that I was actually going to score a goal with my head,” Orozco said.

Now it's on to Fort Lauderdale Saturday and the Cosmos' next challenge. If they win down there, the Cosmos will clinch the NASL spring season title and a home game in November's playoffs.
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