Former Cosmos head coach Gio Savarese guided his team to a pair of knockout round wins over NYCFC in the U.S. Open Cup. (Photo by Joy Rubenstein)

By Michael Lewis
FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Gio Savarese knows something about how to eliminate New York City FC in a knockout round competition.

As head coach of the Cosmos a few years ago, his North American Soccer League team showed the Major League Soccer side the door in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a pair of stunning victories.

On Saturday night, the Portland Timbers boss will try to have his current team to work its magic on NYCFC in the quarterfinals of the MLS Is Back Tournament in Orlando, Fla.

Savarese said that was then with the Cosmos and this was now.

“Of course, that it was great at those times to be able to be able to win those games, qualify, continue to go forward games that were tough difficult against good teams,” he said during a media conference call Thursday. “That’s what we expect to be – another tough match. I don’t think every any match is equal. No games are like the other so, we need to put up a very strong performance, very united performance with a good plan in place in order … to continue to qualify and keep on going forward.”

In 2015, the Cosmos overcame a 2-0 deficit at home at Hofstra University to play NYCFC to a 2-2 draw with NYCFC before prevailing in a shootout as goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer stood out in the tie-breaker.

In 2016, with time running out in regulation, Danny Szetela headed in a goal to boost the Cosmos to a 1-0 triumph over host City at Fordham University in the Bronx.