It’s been a year that the Cosmos have come back to soccer and like it or not, they have alot to show for it
By Cesar Trelles – 8/5/2014
Sunday seemed to have come and gone with not too much fanfare or hype in Cosmos Country. The team itself was coming off of a tough 1-0 loss to the Carolina Railhawks and the coaching staff and some supporters were proudly taking part in are Street Soccer tournament in Times Square. Sunday however, marked the one year anniversary of the Cosmos relaunch, Cosmos reboot or Cosmos 2.0. You can use whatever name you’d like to describe the team’s return however one thing will likely be agreed upon, it’s been a fascinating year in the club’s history.
Back on August 3rd, 2013, no one knew what to expect, I know I surely didn’t. Pele was on hand, Cosmos girls were waving the Pom-poms and there were TV cameras and media all over Hofstra’s Schuart Stadium. The biggest question thatstood out in my mind was, who are these Cosmos? There weren’t Pele, Beckenbauer,
Chinaglia, Messing or Alberto jerseys but these players were about to make an attempt at extending the legacy that those previously mentioned names left behind. I remember Bruce Beck making what I thought, was an interesting plea to the crowd during the pregame ceremonies. As he was announcing the current
players, he asked the crowd to revive an old tradition where the announcer would say the first name and the crowd would say the last name back in unison back to the announcer. I thought ‘Bruce, nobody knows who these guys are’. Thus was the task that these Cosmos would have.
Many fans that were Spanish League soccer fans knew who Marcos Senna was for sure. If you followed MLS, you probably recognized team captain Carlos Mendes. Outside of that, you wondered who these guys were. That night we learned the
names of Peri Marosevic and of course, just before the end of the game, in the 93rd minute we learned who Alessandro Noselli was when he headed in a cross to seal a 2-1 victory for the Cosmos in their fist match in thirty years.
Since then , we’ve seen head coach Giovanni Savarese take his players and instill confidence in them. After the home opener, they were tested as they struggled to score goals and left some thinking again, are these guys for real? But over the course of a few more home matches, with the most notable being against their arch rivals the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the goals started coming and the wins piled up. They came back from a 3-1 deficit against their arch rivals Rowdies, to beat them 4-3 in the midst of all those wins and they would never look back. They would go on to win the fall championship.
Of course in November they would battle the spring champion, the Atlanta Silverbacks and in defeating them, be crowned the 2013 NASL soccer bowl champions. Call it second division if you will, it’s never easy to be crowned the champion of your league after only playing together for 4 months. Some teams have played together for years and still don’t have a title to claim.
From there the team traveled to Spain to take on La Liga’s, Villareal in a testimonial match for Marcos Senna. As 2013 came to a close, soccer fans were slowly realizing that the Cosmos were back. Again, there were different names on the jerseys but if you were familiar with the original version of the Cosmos,
things were looking mighty similar. When the original Cosmos were launched in 1971 they played in Hofstra and they had no marquee names on their troster. Over the course of the last year, the buzz has stated to spread around New York and
while the team awaits a decision on building a state of the art soccer specific stadium, Hofstra will remain their home. As for marquee names, hype started to swirl in March when the Cosmos travelled to Dubai to play their spring training
there against teams from the Arab leagues. While in Dubai, reports started to swirl that the Cosmos might be interested in former Real Madrid star Raul. Similar parallels began to be drawn that a Raul signing would be like Pele signing back in 1975. The move would undoubtedly be huge for the team and would
produce fans in numbers. As of today, that Raul signing has yet to happen or any other marquee player for that matter. But be reminded, Pele came four years after the first launch- we’re only in year one.
To some fans, the feeling so far in 2014 has been one that the Cosmos have not performed up to their expectations. The Cosmos returned most of the 2013 team to start the 2014 season and they signed two strikers that were poised to help the
team rack up goals in Hans Denissen and Mads Stokkelien. They also added another player defensively when they obtained Jimmy Ockford via loan. In NASL play, the goals have not really materialized and its cost the team some pivotal matches.
In May however, the team seemed to produce it’s best soccer of the year when it participated in it’s first ever Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. They defeated the Brooklyn Italians 2-0 and followed that up, with a historic match for New York soccer when they completely dominated Major League Soccer’s New York /New Jersey
Red Bulls 3-0, in a match that was as lopsided as a soccer match could ever be. Their next US Open Cup match against another MLS team, the Philadelphia Union, was another sign of the potential that the Cosmos possess. For what has been
labeled a second division side, the Cosmos stood up to the Union and battled them through 120 minutes into overtime, where they fell to the Union 2-1. The loss was entirely due to poor officiating and was a bitter pill to swallow for
the team. Nevertheless, the team now has their eyes set on their 2014 fall campaign where they hope to repeat as NASL champions.
Its hard to believe that all of the above has happened in one year. Many folks do not give this team the credit it deserves and perhaps expect the team to pickup where they left off back in the 1980’s. Of course, things are never that easy especially when the soccer landscape today is different than it was 30 years ago. One only has to look at the NY/NJ Red Bulls, a respectable organization in how it has been run but who has yet to win a championship in almost 20 years of existence. On the horizon also looms a second MLS club evolving in New York,
that being NYCFC. Will they be expected to win it all in less than a year the way the Cosmos did? For all the fanfare and buzz that they may create, it is likely that they will not win their respective championship. Will they be considered a failure? Will they be questioned if they will go bankrupt or fold? Likely not. Hopefully what does happen instead is a realization that what the Cosmos did in their first year is not a small task. While they may play in the second division of US Soccer, they have operated like a first division club with first division aspirations. Its because of those aspirations, although they may take some time to fully materialize that this guy is a Cosmos fan for life. Hopefully we will pick up some more along the way.