The Cosmos will be playing in the U.S. Open Cup for the first time this season, a tournament which will provide the only chance for fans to see potentially the NASL champions in competitive action against an MLS side. Gio Savarese was asked about that possibility recently, and had the following to say on the matter:
"It would be a good thing for soccer. It would show that soccer is growing in this country. It's going to show that there is good competition in the NASL. It would be a nice thing for the Cosmos to be back in winning something at that level. We have high hopes. We're striving for the best."
"If it's the Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders, whoever it's going to be, we hopefully want to go as far as we can, understanding that it's not going to be easy. Let the fans enjoy the predictions about a possible Red Bull game against the Cosmos."
The Cup isn't a high profile competition, so many fans probably aren't overly familiar with how it's run. NASL sides enter the competition in its second round, with MLS sides joining in the third. Traditionally, the second round is played just before memorial day, with the tournament progressing throughout the summer. The World Cup will likely have some effect on that schedule, but the format details for the tournament aren't expected to be announced until late February or early March.
How the club approach the competition will be interesting, as the opening matches should fall at the same time as the spring season's stretch run. With the right to host the Soccer Bowl on the line based on the results of just nine games, it's hard to imagine that we'd see weakened lineups rolled out for league ties.
Ideally, the club will start the season out on a winning streak, allowing them to build a bit of a cushion before a potential matchup with a MLS side. Regardless of league standing though, I'd be surprised if the Cosmos didn't take the tournament very seriously. A matchup with the Red Bulls would be fun, wouldn't it?
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