After taking a few days off to catch his breath, we’re resuming this column today.
By Michael Lewis
As I have stated before, I don’t necessarily root for the team(s) that I cover, I root for my story.
That was the exact situation I faced exactly four years ago today – June 15, 2016 — as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup encounter between host New York City FC and the Cosmos seemingly was headed toward extratime as a scoreless tie at Fordham University.
Since their return to competitive play in 2013, the Cosmos had become the dominant team in the North American Soccer League, winning championships their first year back, losing in the semifinals and then capturing the 2015 crown.
They also became giant killers in the Open Cup, showing the Red Bulls the door in an emphatic win in 2014 and overcoming a two-goal deficit to win in a shootout against NYCFC in 2015.
Since I was on deadline, a tight deadline, for Newsday, I feared extratime and perhaps penalty kicks. Extratime would add a little more than a half hour and PKs could go anywhere from 19-15 minutes up to close to a half hour. That would not give me and probably anyone else who was writing on deadline much time to talk to the winning side.
In the 88th minute, Danny Szetela made sure my worries went away, connecting for a game-winner as the Cosmos added another City scalp to their collection.
Because my time was limited, I had to pick one team to interview – I was covering both sides at the time for Newsday – and I had to select the victors (yes, the winners, as they say, write the history). Nothing against NYCFC but Szetela was the star of that match.
I got some precious words of wisdom from Szetela. With a deadline looming I did not have enough time to wait to talk to head coach Giovanni Savarese and bolted back to the press box. I went into a zone and wrote the story in something like 15 or 20 minutes.
This was my lede in Newsday:
As time was running down in regulation, Danny Szetela admitted to himself he was tired and wasn’t about to play a half hour of extra time.
So, he did something about it, connecting on a dramatic header in the 88th minute to boost the Cosmos to a 1-0 win over New York City FC Wednesday night in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup at Jack Coffey Field at Fordham University.
“I looked at the clock. My legs are tired,” he said. “I’m not going to overtime. The next time the ball gets out wide, I’m always going to make that run that i always make down the middle.”
The Cosmos eliminated City for the second consecutive year in the competition and defeated a Major League Soccer team for the third year in a row, beating the Red Bulls in 2014.
“We want to be the kings of New York,” Szetela said. “It’s a great feeling.”
It was a great feeling that the game ended before dreaded extratime for yours truly. Whew!
While the Cosmos ruled Major League Soccer teams from New York in the Open Cup, they could not get past the next hurdle and round and wound up getting eliminated in 2014, 2015 and 2016 by other MLS sides.