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Cosmos upcoming U.S. Open Cup debut continues to attract interest

The Cosmos seem to be a trendy pick as one of the pre-tournament clubs to watch, even though they don't play in the top division

Gene Sweeney Jr.

The North American Soccer League ran a Q&A with Josh Hakala, the senior editor at TheCup.us, about the NASL and the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. The entire piece is worth taking the time to read for fans of NASL clubs, and twice during the conversation his answers specifically mentioned the Cosmos. The first had to do with NASL clubs he expected to do well:

What NASL teams are likely to have the most success in the USOC?

A lot of fans, and for good reason, are curious about what the New York Cosmos are going to do in their inaugural Open Cup run. Winning the fall championship, and adding to an already strong team in the offseason could make them very dangerous. The Indy Eleven are another new team, and with Peter Wilt's track record in the Open Cup with the Chicago Fire, you can expect they will make the tournament a top priority. Of course, the Carolina RailHawks have one of the strongest resumes among all lower division clubs with a 13-5-1 (0-1 in PKs) record since the club launched in 2007, which include four wins over MLS clubs. They won't sneak up on anyone. But the biggest question mark among the returning teams is how San Antonio and Minnesota will rebound after being eliminated by PDL teams last year. Both clubs reached the fourth round in 2012, each beating a MLS team along the way, so the expectations were high in 2013, but it obviously didn't work out. I'm sure those two teams will be eager to get that bad taste out of their mouths.

A bit later, he was asked the following:

What NASL team would you expect to be the favorite in the tourney as they come out of their respective leagues?

I would be on the lookout for the Cosmos, who are looking to make a big splash in their first cup run, and the RailHawks who have never been one-and-done and have the best resume in the entire tournament.

It's nice to see that the club is being looked upon as a contender for this competition, but I do worry that we're potentially building up expectations to an unreasonable level. The Cosmos have a good squad, but so do most of the MLS sides that will enter the tournament one round later than we do. The unpredictable nature of knockout tournaments makes it just as likely that we'll go out at the first hurdle as it does that we'll make a deep run.

Personally, I'm more excited for the chance to see multiple NASL sides show what they've got against MLS than I am by the prospect of one of those sides winning. It's just too bad that this cup competition is really the only chance we have to see that happen.