The New York Cosmos have a habit. It’s winning. It’s in their DNA. This Sunday they are looking to add more hardware to the trophy case. Can the Cosmos become the Kings of Soccer in New York for the third time?
No, it may not be the NASL (North American Soccer League) of old. They were first division soccer then and the New York Cosmos were big spenders and had the best player in the world, Pele.
It must have left a hell of an impression because the memories of five NASL Championships stayed with New York soccer youngsters when the league ended in 1984. Now, four years since the brand was revived, the Cosmos are building a nice pattern of success and are doing things neither of the two MLS franchises have done: win championships.
The Cosmos started late when they entered the NASL. Why did they not show up in MLS? Seventy million reasons actually.
The franchise fee to join was quite steep but with the type of name recognition the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC would kill for, they passed on MLS and landed in second division country serving both the United States and Canada. They operated out of James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, NY. They played the second half only mind you. They won it and entered the 2013 Soccer Bowl title game under current Head Coach Giovanni Savarese. They defeated Atlanta for their sixth title.
They made the postseason in 2014 but failed to win it all but in 2015, they added legend Raul from Spain and in his only season he teamed with Marcos Senna and won the crown again, their seventh on their home turf. They played the Cuban National team, the first professional team to do so and thus re-emphasizing their strong brand recognition.
But in 2016, they saw Raul and Senna retire but they didn’t miss a beat. They rode Venezuelan midfielder Juan Arango, the NASL Golden Ball, meaning the MVP winner.
“I am very honored,” the 36-year old Mexican League veteran said, “I am very surprised too, because there has been several outstanding players in the NASL this season, but I must say it’s very rewarding.”
He scored 15 goals and added seven assists to lead the Cosmos back to Soccer Bowl 2016 to be played at Belson Stadium in St. John’s University to face the Indy Eleven.
It’s a humble locale for a title game but the recent relationship issues with Hofstra over schedule and attendance drops with no marquee players brings them to this. Change is in the air, but not on field results.The Cosmos have a chance to win a third title in four years, their eighth overall, which would translate to a dynasty.
The fall of the two New York franchises in MLS in the opening round despite being the top two seeds in the East only make them look like chokers as the Cosmos continue to build on their championship identity.
“This achievement sure does boost our team’s confidence as we look to retain the championship and reward our fans for their unconditional support,” Arango pointed out.
And as the Cosmos continue to hunt for a new location in the city to build their own stadium or current sites like MCU Park in Coney Island, where they played the playoff semi-final.
It may be a race against time as they have to move forward or risk being stripped of their best assets when patience is spent. Yet, on the field of play, they can put those on notice that they make no qualms about their intent to be a serious rival to the other two pro teams that occupy the metropolitan area and outside of the U.S Open Cup, they don’t even have to beat them on the field to win the love of New York. One more victory and they once again become the Dukes of New York, A-Number One.