Sal Zizzo celebrates goal against Cosmos in USOC
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US Open Cup: New York Red Bulls paint the town red after dishing out payback for 2014 elimination

HARRISON, N.J. – If there was any doubt before Wednesday night, none remains: The New York Red Bulls stand alone as the top dogs in New York.

A year after suffering an embarrassing US Open Cup elimination at the hands of the New York Cosmos, the Red Bulls rode the momentum earned from Sunday night’s derby win over New York City FC to move past the second-division NASL side in emphatic fashion, winning their USOC Round-of-16 clash 4-1.

Lloyd [Sam] was the one within our group that referenced last year and said that … payback was important,” RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch said postgame. “We wanted to make sure that we handled this game the right way. Dax [McCarty] didn’t get a chance to play last year, and he wanted to play this year and make sure that this game didn’t slip away.”

Despite the considerable mileage the captain has endured in this current busy stretch of the schedule, McCarty was insistent that he would suit up for the team’s second match in four days. And even though he has played 90 minutes on five occasions in the last 15 days, McCarty said he never even considered asking for a break.

“I’ll never ask for a night off, that’s for sure,” McCarty told MLSsoccer.com. “This is a blessing what we get to do every day; come out and play a game.

“It’s a good feeling beating two New York teams. The Cosmos had every right to feel good about themselves. They were undefeated in their [Spring] season [in the second-division NASL], beating NYCFC [in the USOC 4th Round] and obviously kicking our ass last year. They had every right to feel confident and positive.”

Those positive feelings now reside in Harrison as the Red Bulls are flying high after back-to-back local victories. Moving on in the Open Cup is reason enough to celebrate, but for New Jersey native Matt Miazga, the win means even more.

“They beat us last year, they kind of whooped us,” Miazga recalled. “It’s very important, especially for the fans, but even for us. It gives us an extra boost that we’re the team in New York. We beat NYCFC a few nights ago, now the Cosmos, so we have that extra edge to us.”

Perhaps the loudest proponent for revenge, Sam was elated to be a part of the Cosmos tilt after missing out on Sunday's victory over NYCFC. He has witnessed a considerable amount of swagger return to the Red Bulls locker room after a dry spell of one win in nine MLS matches ended last weekend.

“It was an embarrassing loss last year [to the Cosmos] … and we definitely wanted to make amends for that,” Sam admitted. “It’s been a great three, four days for us ... They’ve been asking what color New York is, but it’s got to be red now. Our fans have all the bragging rights now.”

Eric Giacometti covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.