A potential NY/NJ Open Cup derby: Red Bulls vs. Cosmos
Fans in the New York/New Jersey area might get their wish with a derby of a Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup encounter between the New York Red Bulls and the New York Cosmos.
Of course, the Cosmos have to do their part by defeating the Brooklyn Italians in the third round of the 101-year-old national competition on May 28.
If they accomplish that feat, then the Cosmos will host the Red Bulls in fourth-round match-up at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., sometime from June 10-18.
It would be the first and highly anticipated confrontation between the two teams. The Red Bulls compete in top-flight Major League Soccer while the Cosmos play in the second-tier North American Soccer League.
If the Italians defeat the defending NASL champions, the Red Bulls would host the National Premier Soccer League team at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. during the same time frame.
Assuming there would be no direct conflicts with any televised World Cup matches from Brazil, there would be little doubt that a Red Bulls-Cosmos matchup would sell out Shuart Stadium.
When the game would be held is another question. The Red Bulls and Cosmos are scheduled to play in their respective league competitions on Sunday, June 8. The Red Bulls visit the New England Revolution while the Cosmos host the Ottawa Fury.
Potential Open Cup dates are June 10-11, 14 and 18. The exact dates of the two possible games will be announced next week, the Red Bulls said.
It would be unwise to play on June 10 because both teams would get only one day of rest.
During a conference call with the media on Tuesday, Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said he preferred to play the game the earlier the better to give his team some rest during the MLS break during the Cup. The Red Bulls won't have another league game again until June 27 vs. Toronto FC.
"We have 20 days between games, which is nice," he said. "Hopefully U.S. soccer does its part and doesn't schedule the Open Cup games for us right in the heart of [the World Cup], which would be counterproductive in getting these guys rest.
"If that game is put on the 14th or the 18th, the 14th would be catastrophic because you can't give them any time before or after that pretty much," Petke said. "I'm hoping for the 11th personally. I believe there is a league vote and the majority of the owners, GMs and coaches voted for the 11th so I'm hoping that's the case. That would give us ample time -- the 11th -- we would have a couple of weeks off that we would give them significant time to rest.
"We've had a very front-loaded schedule. We've played two more games than most teams. We had first nine of our first  games on the road. It's a World Cup break. To have a competition like this during [the World Cup] is interesting to me."
There is probably a good chance that Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry and central defender Jamison Olave will not play on the artificial turf at Shuart Stadium. They have not played on artificial turf this season and usually don't.
Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese has a unique connection with the Italians. He played with the team for two years before he turned pro to star with the Long Island Rough Riders and New York/New Jersey MetroStars. On March 29, the Italians honored Savarese as its sportsman of the year for guiding the Cosmos to the NASL title.
Savarese, however, will be all business for the third-round game against Brooklyn.
"You're coming to compete. It's a game," Savarese said earlier in the week. "Every game I played against my brother growing up I wanted to beat my brother. That's the same thing. It becomes competition. You want to try to do the best that you can to be able to perform because you have a responsibility. It's going to be like every other game, the same way we prepare for the game."
Neither the Red Bulls nor the Cosmos had comments about their possible confrontation next month.