For the second year in a row, the Cosmos handed Jersey Express their marching papers from the US Open Cup. Goals from Ayoze and Yohandry Orozco made all the difference as the Cosmos advanced to the fourth round and a much anticipated derby rematch with NYCFC.
Making only a handful of changes from their typical starting lineup, the Cosmos entered the match with their now-standard 4-1-4-1 formation. Brian Holt started in the net, in place of Jimmy Maurer who took a knock in the Rayo game.
The defense, with Ayoze, Carlos Mendes, and Hunter Freeman saw one change with David Ochieng getting the start in Jimmy Ockford‘s usual spot.
Danny Szetela took the lone holding mid spot with Ruben Bover, Andres Flores, and Sebastian Guenzatti ahead of him. Another change came on the left side with David Diosa on the wing.
Lucky Mkosana got a rare start up top for the boys in green.
The Cosmos were still short a man, dressing only seventeen for the match. Maurer, Juan Arango, Yohandry Orozco, Jimmy Ockford and Jairo Arrieta were present on the bench, as well as Cosmos B player Kyle McTurk.
After a few close chances in the first half, including a Ruben Bover shot off the upright, Ayoze would put the Cosmos ahead with a well-hit free kick in the 35th minute. The Cosmos would take that lead into the half.
The club would not increase its lead until the 72nd minute when Hunter Freeman sent a cross from the right side of the box, delivering the ball perfectly to Yohandry Orozco whose 5’5 frame rose to the occasion, and ball’s height, to deliver a header into the back of the net.
“I think I’ve scored two goals with my head at most,” said the midfielder to reporters. “Before entering the match, I was joking with [Juan] Arango on the bench, joking and making header motions as if scoring and the goal just happened to come exactly this way.”
Holt, called upon a few times across the evening, came up with a huge diving save on a shot to the top corner in the dying minutes of the match and kept the shutout in his Open Cup debut.
Head coach Giovanni Savarese was happy to put what he had called “the toughest match” in the books and move on to the next round.
“For me, it’s always the toughest one because you get, a lot of times, teams to be able to overlook it, to come soft mentally,” said the coach. “Because we came here mentally prepared, that’s why we were able to control the match.”
The win does two things for the Cosmos. It allows them to turn their focus on capturing the spring title while on the road in Ft. Lauderdale this weekend. It also allows them to focus their attention on the imminent Open Cup derby rematch with NYCFC.
- David Diosa and Ayoze played an interesting match switching off with each other as their they were both fluid with their roles as winger and full back, something we hadn’t observed before, but which we liked very much.
- Holt had an outstanding match, coming up big when needed. I’ve felt that many have slept on him, writing him off, mostly due to his size. Between his performances in the league and here, I hope that’s come to an end.
- Rough night for Mkosana who seemed to have trouble with that final ball.
- Ochieng looked outstanding with his positioning and his play. He is definitely building a case for a starting role.