June 15, 2016
'WE WANT TO BE THE KINGS OF NEW YORK'
Szetela scores late game-winner as Cosmos nip NYC FC in 4th round of U.S. Open Cup, 1-0
By Michael Lewis
|Danny Szetela: "It shows an NASL side can do well in the Open Cup. Our goal has been set from the beginning of the year to win it and I think we can compete with any team in MLS."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BRONX, N.Y. -- Danny Szetela says the Cosmos want to be the kings of New York.
On Wednesday night, he certainly turned out to be the head of the class with a heady play to boost the defending North American Soccer League champions past New York City FC in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night.
Szetela headed home Yohandry Orozco's cross at the right post in the 88th minute to give the Cosmos a 1-0 triumph at Jack Coffey Field at Fordham University.
He hasn't filled the net often, but it seems when the Clifton, N.J. native does score, it is an important goal.
"It's up there because this rivalry for the fans is huge," he said of the goal. "We want to be the kings of New York. It's a great feeling."
For the third time in three years, the Cosmos upended a New York rival in the fourth round.
In 2014, they rolled over the Red Bulls, 3-0.
Last year, they overcame a two-goal deficit in the second half to win in a shootout as goalkeeper Jimmy Mauer stood on his head making two saves.
On Wednesday, Szetela simply used his head to lift the Cosmos to another East River Derby triumph.
"The feeling's great because it's two New York teams, the East River Derby," he said. "I think it shows an NASL side can do well in the Open Cup. Our goal has been set from the beginning of the year to win it and I think we can compete with any team in MLS."
The Cosmos' next challenge will come in the fifth round, where they have fallen the last two years. Their opponent and venue will be determined Thursday as U.S. Soccer will hold a draw. The next round is slated for June 29.
"I would love to play the Red Bulls," Szetela said. "Growing up in New Jersey I was always a MetroStars’ fan and then they became the Red Bulls. Now my heart is with the Cosmos. Last year they beat us 4-1, a score line I didn't think was correct.
"We will play D.C., Philly or the Red Bulls. That's the challenge you want. We don't want to play a USL team. We want to play MLS teams. We want to prove we can be the best in this country."
As the end of a scoreless regulation was approaching Szetela admitted he was one tired player. So he decided to do something about his fatigue.
"I looked at the clock. My legs are tired," he said. "I'm not going to overtime. The next time the ball gets out wide, I'm always going to make that run that I always make down the middle."
He did it brilliantly, although he had some help from some teammates.
His game-winner started on a City turnover. Second-half substitute Adam Moffat started the counterattack with a pass to Orozco, who bolted down the field. Orozco crossed the ball to Szetela at the right post and he headed it home from point-blank range past goalkeeper Eirik Johansen.
"I just attacked the ball and finished it," Szetela said.
Szetela's story is a reminder to young players who want to give up despite facing a ridiculous amount of adversity.
He signed with MLS when he was 17-years-old in 2004, and the league had a history of touting any teenager at the time to be the next great player.
Szetela certainly had potential and the talent, but did not have the luck as a horrible knee injury almost ended his playing career in 2010. He eventually came back to play amateur soccer and raised his level high enough that the newly reconstituted Cosmos came knocking in 2013.
"It's a successful story," Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. "It's a story you can tell kids. It is a story there is so much into it. It is inspiring. A moment it looked like he was going to be the next amazing player coming from the United States, it was a moment it looked like he was going to retire. Then he had a second life and then he took advantage of it."
The rest is a remarkable comeback story.
Szetela partnered with Marcos Senna in the middle of the midfield on two Soccer Bowl championship sides (2013 and 2015), played well and scored some goals. This one might have been a little more special.
"And today he scored the goal to give us the win,” Savarese said. “The way he goes about it, the karma that he has, the willingness to be able to work, the second opportunity in soccer, he appreciates it very well. He deserves everything he gets."
And on Wednesday, he got a memorable game-winner to win another derby encounter in the U.S. Open Cup.