photo by Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports
HARRISON, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls may have gotten some payback, but they also strengthened the case for why New York is red.
The Red Bulls continued to assert themselves as the alpha dogs in the Big Apple on Wednesday, putting together a thorough 4-1 win over the Cosmos in the fifth round of the U.S. Open Cup. The victory came three days after the Red Bulls knocked off New York City FC in league play for the second time this season, and had them bristling with confidence as they left Red Bull Arena with even more bragging rights.
“Certainly we have shown, not just in the last two games, but I think we have shown that we are a good team and deserve to be treated as the premier club in New York City,” said Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch. “That has meant a lot to us and we have taken a lot of pride in stepping on the field and showing that.”
It is hard to argue that at the moment. The Red Bulls boast a 3-0-0 record in matches against fellow New York teams this season, winning by a combined score of 9-3.
Almost half of those tallies came on Wednesday against the Cosmos, who suffered their first loss in three matches against the fellow New York clubs dating back to last year.
Playing in front of an announced crowd of 11,442 that included boisterous fans from both clubs, the Red Bulls scored twice on each side of halftime, including on a fifth-minute header from Sal Zizzo following a mouthwatering cross from returning midfielder Lloyd Sam.
The Cosmos pulled one back 11 minutes later through Lucky Mkosana, but never looked like they were ready to take the lead against the energetic Red Bulls. Marsch’s side piled on the pressure throughout and found its winner late in the first half via an Anatole Abang header. The MLS club then piled on the misery in the second half with a penalty kick from Sacha Kljestan and incredible individual strike from substitute Mike Grella.
As convincing as the performance was, the Red Bulls still showed their respect to the Cosmos while also reveling in the moment of winning yet another New York derby.
“It was a big week for us. I think we put a lot of focus, a lot of energy, a lot of effort into this week,” said Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty. “We knew it was going to be very difficult, we knew the Cosmos are a very good team. We talked before the game that we have a lot of respect for them. We assume that they’re better than a couple MLS teams that we play, actually. That proved to be the case.”
The Red Bulls capped the game against Cosmos and their special last four days in impressive fashion, as Grella, a Long Island native, scored a spectacular 90th-minute goal on an individual effort.
Grella sized up Hunter Gorskie on the right side of the penalty area, pulled off a series of cuts and stepovers that spun the Cosmos defender like a top, and then fired a low shot off the left post and in.
It was a jaw-dropping goal, and one that further made the Red Bulls feel like they are the New York club to beat.
“I have respect for all the teams, but no doubt this place is my home and I feel a real connection to them,” said Grella. “I’m very happy to get a good result against these teams and prove that right now we are the best team in New York.”