There are those in the soccer world that will look at the most recent acquisition by the New York Cosmos, the signing of legendary Spanish striker, Raul Gonzalez Blanco and simply say “why is Raul going to the 2nd division of US Soccer?”. Of course any team would love to have the UEFA Champions League record holder for goals scored on their team but in the case of the NY Cosmos, they aren’t simply looking at the several accolades that Raul has accomplished.
“As a competitor, he always aims for perfection. Everywhere he has been he has pushed for another level. We expect him to do that here.” said head coach Giovanni Savarese on Thursday after the Cosmos announced Raul’s signing.
For Savarese he remains steadfast as for the reasons that the Cosmos targeted Raul. Simply put, he makes the team better. As Savarese has said, they would never sign a player simply for the sake of signing a player.
“I find a person who will be a competitor. Someone who will be a great example. Someone who is still hungry to achieve great things and who has a passion for the sport as if he is still a little kid.”, added head coach Savarese.
That passion that Savarese describes is something that he hopes transfers down to his younger players. The Cosmos have been fortunate to have success on the pitch. Aiding them in their pursuit of another NASL title are young players such as Sebastian Guenzatti, Diomar Diaz, Mads Stokkelien and David Diosa to name a few. Sure the Cosmos and their fans hope that Raul comes to the Cosmos and lights up their pitch with beautiful and memorable goals, but Raul’s impact on the younger players is what will likely be the bigger impact and what might have the longest lasting impact on the Cosmos.
Savarese mentioned several times on Thursday that Raul came to the Cosmos because he shares the Cosmos vision.
“He shares the vision and the plan of the front office, and the passion for what is happening with soccer in the United States attracted him as well”, mentioned Savarese. “He has a passion for developing players. He loves the sport. He thinks that there is a lot of talent here that can grow to be very good.”.
Of course that passion for developing players is going to play right into the plans that the Cosmos have for Raul. Once Raul decides he no longer wants to play, the Cosmos have a spot for him overseeing their Youth Academy and helping set the structure for that academy that in the hopes of the Cosmos, will produce talented players that may not only play for the Cosmos organization, but will also be looked at by the US National team.
As for those goals and visions that head coach Savarese repeatedly said that Raul shares with the club?
“Our vision is to be a true soccer club in every sense”, said Savarese with conviction. “A club that builds everything from the soccer field, with a first team always competing for a championship and exhibiting good quality. A youth system, good coaching and education – everything that a true club offers, from top to bottom, that’s what we want to be. Not only that, but we also want to be a top club in the United States. We want to be a club that is always aiming for more – a club that can have different players playing for their national teams. We want to always be competing at the highest level possible, and we want to be an example.”
As head coach Savarese explained, the Cosmos have lofty, ambitious but sincere goals. If Raul is to help carry these out, he will be part of a team that will have their hands quite full especially once he decides to stop playing and stay on as a mentor and one of the leaders of the youth academy. But what’s to worry, Raul does not seem to be in a rush to go anywhere, especially with his family re-locating to New York City as early as late November. This gives him and the rest of the New York Cosmos organization lots of time to become as head coach Savarese said, ‘a true soccer club in every sense”.
Although it took some time to make this a reality, bringing Raul to the Cosmos seems to have been the perfect fit for both player and team.