HANOVER, N.J. – On the heels of an emotional and draining MLS derby win, the New York Red Bulls will have to do it all over again on Wednesday night.
Playing their fifth game in 15 days, this one just three days after a 3-1 away win over New York City FC, the Red Bulls will look to take down another local foe as second-division NASL side New York Cosmos head to New Jersey for a rematch of last year’s US Open Cup match (7:30 pm ET, YouTube, MSG+ in New York).
With this year's game played at Red Bull Arena, the Red Bulls will be looking to issue a bit of payback to a Cosmos team that handily dispatched the undermanned Red Bulls 3-0 last summer. It’s a result that many players still have firmly on their minds.
“I didn’t bring that up, but some of the players who were part of that last year brought up the fact that that was a painful moment for them,” head coach Jesse Marsch said. “We’re at home, and we want to win this cup. We want to show that we think we’re the best team in New York, but we know we’re in for a real test. It’s not going to take a lot of motivation from me; they’re ready to go.”
Motivation may not be an issue, but tired legs certainly will be. In contrast to the Cosmos, who have not played in almost two weeks since their USOC penalty shootout win over New York City FC on June 17. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, have been entrenched in a dizzying spell of games, leaving little time for recovery.
Given the schedule, Marsch is likely to make some changes to his starting lineup for the Cosmos match, but the Red Bulls are not preparing excuses.
“The games have been coming fast, but we’re ready,” winger Mike Grella told MLSsoccer.com. “We’ve got such a young and energized group. We really believe in the guys that are coming in and haven’t gotten so many minutes this year. They all deserve to get a game now. We have a great group, and with all the games coming, we’ll need everybody.”
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Although they dispatched another NASL side, the Atlanta Silverbacks, earlier in the competition, the Red Bulls know the Cosmos present an entirely different challenge after winning the NASL's spring championship with a 5-0-5 record. Red Bulls players Kyle Reynish, who played for the Cosmos, and Connor Lade, who was loaned to the second-division club last year, have already gotten a first-hand look at how the Cosmos operate.
“I was on the bench for our 3-0 loss to them, and shortly thereafter I was suiting up in a Cosmos uniform,” Lade recalled. “I’ve gotten to see both sides, and I have a very good relationship with them.
“We’re putting nothing but 100 percent into this game. We’re all really excited, because we know what kind of team they have, and we’re ready to match that and win the game.”
Eric Giacometti covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.