The New York Cosmos continue to wait on a decision from an appeals court that could determine the future of the storied franchise and the entire NASL.
As the late great Tom Petty once sang, “The Waiting Is the Hardest Part.”
The New York Cosmos are going through a turbulent off-season for the second straight year and all they can do is sit and wait for what they hope is a positive outcome in a courtroom. Since losing to the San Francisco Deltas in the NASL Championship Final, the Cosmos had to say goodbye to the architect of their reboot era.
Head coach Giovanni Savarese departed for Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers after guiding the Cosmos to three North American Soccer League championships and four appearances in the finals since 2013. Under Gio’s leadership, the Cosmos amassed an incredible five-year record of 65-26-44.
As of now, the Cosmos have not named a replacement but they’re hoping they eventually have to.
The single biggest storyline for the Cosmos this off-season has been waiting for a decision from an appeals court on the NASL’s request for an injunction that would see the United States Soccer Federation restore the league’s Division Two status. Without a Division Two classification, the future of the league and the most famous soccer franchise in North American history could be in jeopardy.
The Cosmos and the NASL have no idea when to expect a decision.
“No, the appeals process can be timely,” said Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover. “We always knew that but we’re hopeful for a judgment. Unfortunately, it’s taken longer than we would like and it’s forcing us into some difficult decisions on the club level.”
And that includes bidding farewell to a number of players with expiring contracts including Emmanuel Ledesma, Javi Marquez, Juan Arango, David Ochieng, and goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer who signed with FC Dallas of MLS. If the NASL returns in 2018, the Cosmos will have some time to restock their roster because the league is adopting an international calendar. Should the league get a favorable decision, the 2018-19 season would start in August of this year and conclude in June of 2019.
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There had been rumors of settlement talks between the NASL and USSF, but the Cosmos haven’t heard anything.
“No, I’m not aware of any such discussions,” said Stover. “A few weeks ago, I saw the rumors on Twitter like everyone else, but apparently those discussions stalled.”
What has not stalled has been the political support that the Cosmos and the NASL has received while this process plays out. Among the politicians who have sent letters to the USSF asking them to reconsider their decision to strip the NASL of Second Division status include New York State Senator Charles Schumer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and New York City Council Member Peter Vallone.
After four years of calling Hofstra University on Long Island their home, the Cosmos moved to MCU Park on Coney Island in Brooklyn for the 2017 season. By the end of the season, the Cosmos had created some buzz on the boardwalk and it was clear to these elected officials that losing the storied franchise would be a tremendous blow to the community.
The political support has been overwhelming.
“It’s been a great thing to see,” said Stover. “There’s no question that this decision by U.S. Soccer has had a very negative economic impact on players, coaches and staff. It has also hurt local businesses in Brooklyn and job opportunities for many New Yorkers.”
In the spirit of transparency, I’m a seasonal employee of the New York Cosmos serving as their public address announcer since day one of their return to the pitch in 2013. Working for this team has been a dream come true and I made that point in my open letter to the USSF back in November …
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) January 14, 2018
I rooted for this team back in the glory years in the 70’s and 80’s and so did Dr. David Kilpatrick, an Associate Profession of Literature and Language at Mercy College who also serves as the Cosmos’ Club Historian. This past week, Kilpatrick also put pen to paper on a letter to the USSF adding his perspective on the situation….
— David Kilpatrick (@DrDKilpatrick) January 12, 2018
“David has been a friend for a long time and he holds the legacy of the Cosmos very close to his heart,” said Stover. “He’s been a compass for us in forging a new path in a way that honors the history of the club. We’re one of the few clubs in American soccer that can and do have a historian and he’s filled that role incredibly well.”
While the Cosmos and the NASL fate, there’s no question that the franchise and the league would not have been around for the 2017 season had it not been for Rocco B. Commisso stepping up and buying the Cosmos at the 11th hour when it certainly looked like the franchise would be shutting down. Commisso saved the team and league and is the driving force behind the fight to regain Division Two status from the USSF.
A former star soccer player at Columbia University, Commisso is passionate about the game and poised to do what he can to see that the sport thrives in the United States. The lawsuit against the USSF will go forward regardless of the injunction ruling, but whether Commisso’s efforts will save the Cosmos and the NASL two years in a row is still up in the air.
But he’s trying.
“I’m convinced that Rocco will do everything in his power to keep this team playing and that he has the best interest of the club at heart,” said Stover. “The Cosmos are not a business investment or a toy for him. He wants to give back to the sport and to help fix things that he sees as wrong with the domestic game. He should be applauded for those efforts, especially considering that he doesn’t need to be doing any of it. If we had more team owners that cared as much as he does for the game, we’d all be better off right now.”
Anyone like me or David Kilpatrick that grew up rooting for the Cosmos in the 70’s and 80’s had to wait almost thirty years for the club’s return from the first hiatus. Now there’s more waiting as the appeals court prepares its decision as to whether or not to grant the NASL’s request for an injunction that would restore Division Two status.
The waiting is the hardest part, but in Cosmos Country, we’re used to it.