On Saturday, the New York Cosmos thoroughly dominated the New York Red Bulls, and advanced in the 2014 U.S. Open Cup. While Cosmos' fans everywhere are right to be ecstatic, it's probably a bit early to start assuming the club would repeat this sort of performance every time they face an MLS club. After all, the Cosmos probably put together their best game of the season, combining the sort of pressure and possession we saw against San Antonio with several clinical finishes. We also saw an opponent that not only started the game flat, but couldn't be bothered to pick up the intensity after they looked in danger of being played off the pitch.
So what can we take away from last night's drubbing? Here are four things I noticed that really stood out.
Jimmy Maurer has become an excellent goalkeeper.
Watching Maurer in the first two weeks of the NASL spring season, I wasn't overly comfortable with the replacement to Kyle Reynish. He made a few flashy saves and managed to keep a pair of clean sheets, but overall his positioning was very suspect, and he made me very uncomfortable every time an opponent played a cross into the box.
Fast forward to Saturday, and we had a keeper who seemed to claim every cross with ease, and who repeatedly found himself positioned perfectly to deal with any balls played in behind the Cosmos' defense. This isn't an isolated contest, either, as he's been very much in control of his area for most of the past two months. At this point, I actually feel far more comfortable with Maurer in net than I did with Kyle Reynish.
The influence of Marcos Senna is showing, even when he's out of the lineup.
Early on during the 2013 fall season, the Cosmos seemed to be struggling to find an adequate partner for midfielder Marcos Senna. They spent half the season with a revolving dorr at the position, before Danny Szetela emerged to nail down a first eleven place.
One third of the way through the 2014 season, the Cosmos now have a pair of excellent options centrally. Both Joseph Nane and Danny Szetela seem to have slowed down their game during the past nine months, and have also seemingly developed a better sense of where to position themselves in order to help Senna deliver the ball. It showed with Senna out of the lineup the last few weeks, as the two still look like their playing with the former Spanish international, and they're making each other look very, very good.
Mads Stokkelien is finding his footing.
Mads looked good almost as soon as he donned the green and white, but of late, he's starting to get results with regularity. The two goals last night were nothing short of sensational, and in New York's last match against the Ottawa Fury, he played an unbelievable cross to set up the game-winning goal.
Early on, Stokkelien struggled to finish his chances, but that slowish start is quickly looking like a simple period of adaptation. If he keeps up this sort of form, the Cosmos are going to be very tough to beat.
Gio Savarese is some coach.
The Red Bulls looked like a mess all night, and could barely string together three passes in a row. The Cosmos, on the other hand, controlled possession throughout the match, and didn't sacrifice any sort of ambition in attack in order to do so.
Last night was very reminiscent of a summer friendly when an elite European team comes to town to beat up an MLS side. The Cosmos looked like a well-oiled machine that had been playing together for years, and were able to impose their style of play on their opponent no matter what they tried. Those are the marks of tremendous management.