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June 14, 2016
Cosmos ready for another shot at NYC FC as they aim for Open Cup crown

Carlos Mendes: “We haven't gone deep enough yet in the last couple of years. It’s a difficult tournament. You`re playing a lot of good teams."
Carlos Mendes: “We haven't gone deep enough yet in the last couple of years. It’s a difficult tournament. You`re playing a lot of good teams."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Jean Pierre Guzhnay Writer

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Winning the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup isn't just about pride for the Cosmos, it's about the possibility of representing the North American Soccer League in the CONCACAF Champions League.

For the second year in a row, the defending NASL champions find themselves facing New York City FC in the fourth round of the competition. This time the derby clash will be played on the road on Jack Coffey Field at Fordham University at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Head coach Giovanni Savarese said that the Open Cup "is an important factor for [our] club to keep on showing where we are, that we are able to accomplish important things in the competitions that we participate.

“The U.S. [Open] Cup for us is fundamental and winning against NYC will give us this chance to advance, which is for us, the important part."

The Cosmos have gotten their fair share of victories in the Open Cup.

In 2014, the Cosmos blanked the Red Bulls 3-0 at home and went on to face before they were -eliminated by the Philadelphia Union, losing 2-1 in extra time.

Last year, the Cosmos were eliminated in the fifth round to the Red Bulls, 4-1, at Red Bull Arena.

Captain Carlos Mendes lamented that the team has been unable to get past the fifth round.

“We haven't gone deep enough yet in the last couple of years," he said. "It’s a difficult tournament. You`re playing a lot of good teams.

“You have to be on top of the game otherwise you lose, you`re out.”

Mendes remembered the controversial elimination by the Union in 2014.

“It was a difficult match, things happened, but that’s all part of it, and we have to deal with it again," he said. "It is a hard tournament because there are a lot of challenges, ups and downs, and we need to be ready.”

Last year the Cosmos beat expansion team NYC FC in the fourth round on penalty kicks, overcoming a two-goal deficit at Hofstra University. The Cosmos equalized behind second-half goals from Leo Fernandes and Lucky Mkosana as goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer saved two spot kicks in the shootout.

Mendes said last year's encounter was "exciting" and had a "great atmosphere."

"Any game that goes into penalty kicks like that was fun to be a part of," he added.

When asked whether last year's result gave his team an edge, Savarese replied, “No, I think what it does is that it makes it more meaningful I think for everyone."

The Cosmos defeated the Jersey Express in the third round at St. John's University two weeks ago, 3-0. The team hoped that it was the first step toward another piece of silverware.

“We have always said it from the first time that we played in the U.S Open Cup that we take this cup very seriously," Savarese said. "For us it is fundamental trying to go all the way.

“This local rivalry is very important; we understand that this game will be completely different from last year`s. We are focusing on ... strengths and weaknesses."

Mendes called the game preparation, “a good challenge” but said the Cosmos were preparing differently from NASL matches.

“We are preparing the same way we would for any game,” he said.

“We`re going to have to be very good to beat them. Obviously, they are a very dangerous team, a team that likes to play, so I think it'll be a good match.”

Mendes said his teammates must be both “organized” and “tactically good” if they were to beat NYC FC again.

“Also, just play our game," he said.

“Obviously we are playing [on] a field that we haven't played before. We will train on it, but again for me, it’s being good tactically for 90 minutes, being compact and eliminate spaces.”

For players such as midfielder Ruben Bover, this derby clash will be a new experience.

“For me it`s the first time I play a competitive game against an MLS team since I was in the Red Bulls, so its going to be a big challenge,” he said.

“Everyone is ready to play. Whoever he puts on, I'm sure will do the job and we all have to be ready.”

“The Cosmos is a massive team. We have a quality team. We would have no problem in the MLS. But this game is very important for the Cosmos, for the fans, [and] us.”

“To be beat a MLS team, it always looks good for the NASL, too. So we are going to do our best and it’s going to be a beautiful game.”
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