And it will be a chance to start a new rivalry when the club heads to Long Island to meet the New York Cosmos in the fourth round at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
“It will be an attractive game for the fans and for everyone to play the Cosmos. It’s a different derby,” David Villa said. “We obviously know we can play Red Bulls in MLS, but this is a derby that we can only see in the cup. I hope we’ll continue on the good spell and win the game.”
The game could pit a pair of Spanish legends against each other as Villa could take on Cosmos star Raul once again. But even if neither steps on the turf Wednesday, NYCFC go into the match with a clear objective.
“We’re not going out there as if we’re playing some type of friendly. We’re in the Open Cup and we’re there to win trophies,” NYCFC coach Jason Kreis said. “For me, it’s one of the most advantageous tournaments because you only have to win four or five games and all of a sudden you won a trophy and you’ve got yourself into CONCACAF [Champions League].
“CONCACAF Champions League, for me and for this club, is going to be a big, big goal.”
NYCFC enter the anticipated match unbeaten in three, having won back-to-back games for the first time. Meanwhile, the Cosmos went undefeated for the North American Soccer League’s spring season, clinching the title with a 3-3 draw against Jacksonville on Saturday night.
The Cosmos defeated Jersey Express SC 3-0 to reach the fourth round. A year ago in the same round, they knocked off the Red Bulls 3-0.
“As I said last year about the Red Bulls, these kind of games are derbies and they are very important,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said. “They are what you need in a city in order to allow the sport to grow, and for us this game is going to be huge.”
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The game is also important to NYCFC defender Chris Wingert, a Long Island native.
“I know a lot of people who will want to come to the game and I have a lot of people I care about on the other team, so there will be some bragging rights on the line for sure,” Wingert said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
So, too, are Cosmos players.
“I’ve always been a fan of David Villa,” Cosmos midfielder Hagop Chirishian said. “But not on Wednesday.”