Danny Szetela of the New York Cosmos celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against NYCFC in the 2016 US Open Cup. Photo: Steve Hamlin | TICC
Last year, the New York Cosmos needed penalty kicks following to put away NYCFC after playing 120 minutes. This year, the Cosmos would get all they needed in 90. One goal off the head of Danny Szetela would advance the boys in green to the Round of 16 for the third time in as many years.
The Cosmos came out with no real surprises on the roster, save for one. Roversio was not only in the 18, he cracked the Starting XI. Surprises continued on the bench with the returns of Adam Moffat and Alexis Velela to the 18 after being sidelined by injury.
The Cosmos continued to employ the 4-1-4-1 formation that has given them the most success this season in the NASL.
After comments from NYCFC that they intended to take the game seriously, the jury is out on whether they did. The entirety of the City back line was subbed out, with Shannon Gomez making his first appearance of the season, as well as goalkeeper Eirik Johansen. Mix Diskerud was the only week-to-week starter in the midfield, as Khiry Shelton was up front.
Both sides challenged each other early, but the Cosmos got the better of the chances in the first half. They got the first real chance of the night when Yohandry Orozco delivered a ball into the box for Juan Arango who fired a shot on net that Johansen was able to get a glove on and deflect in the sixth minute. NYCFC got a chance of their own in the fifteenth as a Gomez cross into the box ended with a Kwadwo Poku header that took a bounce before ending up in the hands of Jimmy Maurer. Seconds later, the Cosmos returned from that play with an Orozco shot and another save from Johansen.
The Cosmos back line prevented an early City lead just moments after that as Maurer left his line to clear a ball from the edge of the box, nearly gifting a goal to Disekrud, but his low shot at the open net was correctly read and picked off by Ayoze.
The Cosmos came close to getting on the board in the 37th as Jairo Arrieta drew three defenders before slipping a ball over the top to Danny Szetela who made an unopposed run down the middle. The ball escaped him after his first touch and Johansen was able to step out and make the grab. Maurer would make a grab on an easy Diego Martinez ball on frame two minutes later.
The Cosmos were the first to make the books as Arango received a yellow for a tough foul on Poku in the 43rd. City would not stay out of the book much longer as Jefferson Mena committed one on Arrieta and saw a card just a minute later.
The yellows continued in the second half with one in the 52nd to White for dissent and one to Szetela a minute later for taking the feet of Mehdi Ballouchy out from under him.
City saw a great chance in the 54th as Martinez got a clear look at net and fired a curling ball from about 25 yards out that Maurer just parried away before it was cleared. Martinez was also involved shortly after delivering a cross to Diskerud that he headed wide.
With NYCFC getting the bulk of the chances through most of the second half, Maurer had to make another parry on a shot from Patrick Mullins in the 68th.
NYCFC made the first substitution of match bringing on forward Tony Taylor for Khiry Shelton in the 73rd. Seconds later, they came within inches of taking the lead.
Mullins received a long ball in the box, tipping it past Maurer, who had left his line, and evading a slide from behind by Roversio. Only the work of Hunter Freeman saved the visitors as he raced back to the line during the confusion and slid into the ball to clear it before Mullins could center to a wide-open Poku.
The Cosmos made the next sub of the evening, bringing in Adam Moffat for Ruben Bover in the 79th.
After suffering an injury minutes earlier, Mena left the game in the 87th, replaced by starting center back Jason Hernandez. Despite the addition of a starter to the back line, it would not stop the Cosmos from finally finishing a ball.
A minute after the sub, Ayoze delivered a ball to Moffat who made a run into the offensive end before sliding a pass wide left to Orozco. The Venezuelan put a cross into the six for Szetela, who made an unopposed run into the box and finished with a header past Johansen.
City immediately responded, bring off Ballouchy for Jack Harrison. The Cosmos brought on defender Jimmy Ockford, pulling Arrieta.
With City pushing ahead, the Cosmos nearly caught them again when Arango tried to chip the keeper from distance, but the shot went wide.
The Cosmos made one final substitution, with Orozco coming off for Lucky Mkosana, but time would run out with the Cosmos holding on to their lead.
The NASL side will now advance to the Round of 16 in the US Open Cup and host the New England Revolution at Belson Stadium in Queens on June 29th.
This was Roversio’s second start of the year since coming back from injury. He also started a friendly vs SD Eibar in Las Vegas last month.
This is the third time the Cosmos have hurdled MLS competition in their first Open Cup match against them in as many years, doing it to NYCFC the last two years.
This is the Cosmos’ first win on the road against an MLS side falling in 2015 to Red Bull and 2014 to the Philadelphia Union.
The Cosmos, who have never lost in Open Cup competition as the home team (3-1-0), will have a unique opportunity as they host the Revolution and, if they advance, will host the winner of the Union-Red Bulls match