Cosmos B Gets Set For Open Cup Run

The club's 4-0 win in the NPSL season opener has the squad confident ahead of Sunday
Published May 4, 2018
After recording an impressive road victory in its National Premier Soccer League season opener, New York Cosmos B enters Sunday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play-in match against the Brooklyn Italians on a high.
Winning 4-0 at Boston City FC Sunday night certainly was a big boost to the team.
"Everyone's confidence is really high right now," team captain Danny Szetela said. "Everyone has been playing well, working hard in training. When you get the first win on the road, especially the way that we did it, everyone's confidence is going to be high."
In contrast to the league game, Cosmos B realize that there is very little margin of error in the knockout competition, at Long Island University Brooklyn at 8 p.m. Sunday.
"If you lose, you're out," Szetela said. "Both teams are going to fight until the last whistle."
The teams are scheduled to tussle again in league play in Cosmos B's home opener at Hofstra Soccer Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. May 15. The Italians have won the Open Cup twice -- in 1979 and 1991.
"We want to do well in this tournament," head coach Carlos Mendes said. "We realize they're going to be organized, a difficult team to play against. It will be a good matchup and we need to be ready to play. I'm excited for it."
In NPSL action last year, the Italians (9-2-1) finished second in the Atlantic Blue Conference, while Cosmos B (6-4-2) took fourth place. Brooklyn won both encounters, 2-1 away and 1-0 at home.  So, Cosmos B has something to prove.
"It's sort of like a rivalry that can go farther down the years," Szetela said. "It’s something that we can build on to make it exciting. I think there will be a lot of fans at the game. I know the Five Points will be there and the rest of the Cosmos fans."
The winner of Sunday's affair will play Lansdowne Boys for a first-round game Wednesday, May 9, and Cosmos B would host, should the side advance.
After a successful season debut, Mendes said he didn't think Cosmos B had to guard against being overconfident Sunday.
"We have guys who have experience that have been there, even the young guys who realize there's always room for improvement, that it's just one game," he said. "As a coach, I always bring the mentality that you've got to continue to work. You can't get too high when things are good, and you can't get too low when things don't go your way. I think we've got guys on the team who have a lot of experience who will bring that type of maturity to the club."
The Open Cup is the oldest team competition in the U.S., having kicked off in 1914. It is a unique tournament because teams from all levels -- from amateur through professional -- can compete.
As a player, Mendes has participated in many Open Cup matches with the Rochester Rhinos, New York/New Jersey MetroStars, New York Red Bulls, and the New York Cosmos.
"It's an opportunity to play through all the ranks of pro and amateur soccer in the U.S.," he said. "It's an exciting tournament because everyone's up for games. It's very, very difficult. You can play well and have one slip up and you're out of the tournament. If you don't come for 90 minutes and bring your A game, you can be out.
"You face teams you might not normally sometimes play against or out of your league, and that makes it fun for the fans. For me, you've got to be very concentrated no matter what team you're playing and be ready to play. Hopefully we'll be successful and have a couple of games in the Open Cup."
The Cosmos have enjoyed considerable success in the past. They eliminated the Red Bulls behind an emphatic 3-0 triumph in 2014. They showed New York City FC the door twice -- overcoming a two-goal deficit and a recording a thrilling shootout win in 2015 and adding an 11th-hour 1-0 victory on Szetela's dramatic goal in 2016.
"It feels good,” Szetela said of his team's success against MLS opponents. "For us, it's the only time you get to really play an MLS team is in the Open Cup. I've got some great memories. That NYCFC game when I scored in the 1-0 win at their place and the game that we played at Hofstra, the penalties, the Red Bull game and so on. It's exciting. It's always fun when you can get to play against MLS teams and try to compete against top level teams."
The club also has known what a bitter upset tastes like, losing to Reading United AC (Premier Development League), last year, 3-2.
"It was disappointing," Szetela said. "We were a professional team and unfortunately we went down early in the game. We were winning. and we couldn't get the win to move onto the next round."