June 14, 2016
WANTING TO ERASE THAT 'BITTER TASTE'
NYC FC gets another shot at the Cosmos in another derby game in the U.S. Open Cup
By Michael Lewis
|Patrick Mullins: "It's a chance to win a trophy for a club that hasn't won one yet. We want to build a tradition of winning at this club. To do that we've got a chance to get the first trophy."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BRONX -- Patrick Mullins remembers the "bitter taste" left in his mouth after the Cosmos staged a miracle comeback to eliminate New York City FC from last year's Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup in a shootout.
City squandered a two-goal, second-half lead as the Cosmos equalized with a dramatic goal in the 90th minute and went on to win the penalty-kick tie-breaker. Goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer saved two NYC FC attempts, including one by Mullins.
"Obviously it was an emotional game," Mullins said.
Needless to say, the memory of last year's match will be a driving force when the two clubs meet almost a year to the day of last year's derby clash in a fourth-round confrontation at Jack Coffey Field on the Fordham University campus at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"It's another New York rivalry," Mullins said after practice Monday. "It's another team we want to beat. Yes, we remember last year well and itís something that we want to correct."
The Cosmos encounter was NYC FC's first and only Open Cup match and the second-year team is taking this year's competition seriously.
"One hundred percent," Mullins said. "Itís important to us. It's a chance to win a trophy for a club that hasn't won one yet. We want to build a tradition of winning at this club. To do that we've got a chance to get the first trophy. We feel we have a good chance to do that by making a run in the Open Cup.
"We're a young club and we want to win trophies very quickly. This is a great opportunity at making a run at winning a real trophy. We want to make sure we take the first right step Wednesday."
To be fair, City doesn't have a trophy yet because it is only in its second year, but that hasn't stopped the ambitious head coach Patrick Vieira from dreaming or hoping. After all, he knows something about winning cups and trophies having taken victory laps at the 1998 World Cup final, the 2000 Euro championship and the FIFA Confederation Cup finals with his French teammates. He also won three English Premier League crowns and four F.A. Cup titles with Arsenal.
"It's a cup game," he said. "If you look at the history of our football club, there is not so much a trophy in our cabinet and that is one of the competitions that you can do well in a short period of time because there are not so many games. we have to play like a cup final because we want to do well. We will be motivated. We will be focused on that because this is a competition that we will be taking seriously."
If NYC FC loses, it will put its full focus on the MLS regular season to reach the playoffs.
"It's a game we need to win," midfielder Mickey Lopez said. "We want to win this one. This is a derby game. We look at it as just as final for us because it's win or go home. we want to win this tournament."
Though the Cosmos perform in the second-tier North American Soccer League, Vieira said City wasn't "taking this game for granted."
"We enter because we want to win," he said, "but were not the only team that wants to win the competition. We want to do well. What's important for us is our focus, our concentration and not taking this game for granted. We have to be humble. We have to work hard. We have to respect our principles and we have to match their competitiveness."
Due to the competition's rules and regulations, both coachesí teams will have to shape their respective lineups by adhering to restrictions that will limit both sides to only five international players on their 18-man game rosters.
That most likely will preclude the likes of midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard, although it would not be surprisingly if striker and captain David Villa is used as a second-half substitute if City needs a goal or two.
"It affects my player selection, yes of course," Vieira said. "It is a difficult one. These are the rules and we have to stick by the rules. I have to think about the strategy because it is important for me to have a balance on the field."
During its two years of existence, NYC FC never has won a derby game. It has lost all four encounters in the Hudson River Derby to the Red Bulls, including this season's first rivalry match at Yankee Stadium, 7-0, last month. While the Cosmos advanced in the Open Cup last year, the result officially went down in the books as a tie. So, City is 0-4-1 in derby matches.
That hasn't bothered Vieira at all.
"We're talking about a team which has just two years of existence so if you're asking me that question after 10 years it will be a different answer," he said. "We're still a football club, we're still going up, the team is still going up. And of course, it's not just about the derby. It's about the competition, why we want to perform, why we want to do well. We want to go to the next round."
So both teams should enter the match hungry, City as a team that has struggled at Yankee Stadium (1-3-5) accruing only eight out of a possible 27 home points and the Cosmos as the second-tier side with another upset on the players' minds.
The Cosmos (6-4-0, 18 points), the defending NASL champions, recently completed the spring season finishing second to champion Indy Eleven (4-0-6, 18) by goal differential.
"I expect a team that is well organized, a team that will give 200 percent to win the game, to be really competitive and they are motivated," Vieira said. "I need to find a way to motivate the players as well because we have to match their level of concentration or focus. If we are not matching that level, it will be difficult for us to win the game."