Mads Stokkelien went in all alone on Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara. What more could the Cosmos' leading goal-scorer ask for?
"I couldn't ask for anything more," Stokkelien said. "We knew their defense didn't like having any balls get behind them. It was me against the keeper and it was a difficult angle, but I managed to put it inside the bar."
Stokkelien, named Player of the Match, fired a shot into the top left corner that Meara had no chance to stop in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match Saturday night before 9,364 at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.
Carlos Mendes set up the shot for Stokkelien in the eighth minute of the Cosmos' 3-0 upset win over the Red Bulls.
"I kind of laid it up for him and he did the rest,'' Mendes said. "We finished our opportunities and could have had a few more. We didn't let them play their game."
The Cosmos will take on the winner of Philadelphia Union/Harrisburg City Islanders in the fifth round June 24-25.
"It's one game at a time," Mendes said. "We're excited for the next challenge. It's incredible knowing that we can compete with anybody when we play like this."
Stokkelien wasn't done. The forward took another feed, this one from Daniel Szetela, deep inside the box in the 73rd minute and placed a shot into the right corner for his second score.
Five minutes later, Alessandro Noselli scored unassisted to make it 3-0.
"It was a perfect goal," Noselli said. "In this game, there's a 10-second moment where you don't think. You are crazy in joy. Just saying, 'Yes! Yes!' That's how I felt there. It's the most beautiful thing in life when you score in these games."
The Cosmos finished with a 21-3 advantage in shots on goal. What made the win so much sweeter for Stokkelien is that the Cosmos now have bragging rights over their state rivals.
"The only thing for us is that we show who is the best team," said Stokkelien, who led the Cosmos in his first season with three goals and three assists in NASL play. "At the moment, we showed we are the better team today. This is one step along the way."
Meara made three saves and no excuses.
"When you let a team score like that in the first 10 minutes, it's going to be an uphill battle," he said. "We knew what we were coming into. We didn't take them lightly."