The Cosmos' Mads Stokkelien kicks the ball against the Red...

The Cosmos' Mads Stokkelien kicks the ball against the Red Bulls' Armando during the U.S. Open Cup soccer game in Hempstead on Saturday, June 14, 2014. Credit: AP / Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

These are the games you want to play in, said Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes.

A former New York Red Bull, Mendes couldn't wait to step on the field and take on his former team Satruday night.

The Cosmos and Red Bulls met for the first time ever in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.

"These are two teams that are very close in playing styles," Mendes said.

There's a lot of familiarity between the two teams. Not only did Mendes and Hunter Freeman, who currently start on defense for the Cosmos, lead the Red Bulls defense, but Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese and Red Bulls coach Mike Petke were MetroStars teammates.

Even Cosmos CEO Erik Stover worked in the Red Bulls front office and Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer was a 2011 supplemental draft pick of the Red Bulls.

Mendes called both teams playing styles "very close."

Savarese called the Red Bulls "dynamic." Mendes, who led a defense that allowed only three goals in nine league games, couldn't wait for this one to get underway.

"I think both teams like to play attractive soccer," said Mendes, who has played in all 900 minutes for the Cosmos this season. "There's a lot of passing, keeping the ball on the ground and making good runs. They're a good team. They have high-level players that can hurt you. I believe we have a good team as well."

When describing the Red Bulls, Savarese agreed with Mendes. "They are a team that is good on the ball," Savarese said. "They're dynamic. They try to penetrate with combinations of play and they try to keep it on the ground."

Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara got the start over Luis Robles, who had started 53 regular season games in a row dating back to September 2012.

Did Mendes consider the Cosmos as the underdog going into this one? "To be honest, I don't know," Mendes said. "We know we have a very good team. We have the confidence that we can beat anybody in the country when we're on our game."

To be on their game, Mendes said, "The No. 1 thing for us is to always come out with the right mentality and attitude and then the rest falls into place."

With World Cup play underway, the Cosmos have two members in their organization with World Cup playing experience. Midfielder Marcos Senna, of Brazil, played for Spain in 2006 and assistant coach Carlos Llamosa, of Columbia, played for the U.S. in 2002.


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