New York Cosmos to face Brooklyn Italians in U.S. Open Cup

Before the New York Cosmos can set their attention on the New York Red Bulls, they will have to get by one of the most storied teams in the Tri-State area first.

The Brooklyn Italians beat PDL side New Jersey Express 4-2 at NJIT’s Lubetkin Field in Newark, N.J., setting up a delicious third round U.S. Open Cup encounter between the historic NPSL side and the NASL Champion Cosmos.

After finding themselves down a goal late against the Express, Brooklyn would tie the match on a penalty kick in the 76th minute by Salvatore Barone. The Italians followed that up with a Yvener Guerrier winner in the 81st.

Guerrier would double his goal tally in the 90th with yet another penalty kick for the Italians, putting the match out of the host’s reach.

The victory pits two of New York’s most celebrated programs head-to-head.

“I think the first match in the U.S. Open Cup will always be the most difficult one,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said earlier this week. “It is the most important game we will play in the U.S. Open Cup. This is the one that will give us momentum the following matches.”

That may very well be the case.

The Cosmos and Italians can claim some of the most historic roots within the New York soccer community, and they have done so on divergent paths. Brooklyn is a team that owns 65 years of continuous history in the New York and national soccer market. Of the two teams, they are the only ones who can boast a U.S. Open Cup trophy (1991).

That, of course, is because the original Cosmos avoided the tournament during their heyday. While the Italians are a respected, grassroots organization, the Cosmos built their lore as the first major soccer power in the United States — and internationally. The modern-day Cosmos have followed that winning path, taking the NASL Soccer Bowl in half a season’s play, and continue their dynamic form in the NASL Spring season.

Unlike their predessesors, this tournament holds a whole different meaning to the Cosmos. A strong NASL side, the Open Cup allows New York a shot to measure themselves up against first division sides while offering a distinct chance to represent the region in Champions League play if they manage to win it all.

U.S. Open Cup matches are paired regionally. While not confirmed, the winner of this third round match may very well go on to face the New York Red Bulls in the fourth round, where MLS teams enter the fray.

One thing is for sure; there will be everything to play for when the Cosmos and Italians meet on May 28th at St. John’s Belson Stadium.

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