The New York Cosmos are making their return to competitive soccer after 28 years of hibernation. The club will be joining the North American Soccer League in 2013, though it may not be there for long.
New York dominated the NASL in the 70’s and 80’s when global icons such as Pele and Franz Beckenbauer suited up for the Cosmos. The club, founded in part by legendary music producer Ahmet Ertegun, folded in 1985, shortly after the demise of the NASL itself. The Cosmos’ name and logo were revived in 2010, but were only used for youth programs along with merchandising endeavors.
Now, the club’s chairman, Seamus O’Brien, has brought back competitive senior action and is dreaming of even bigger things.
“It has been a long journey to get to this point, so I am delighted to announce that the New York Cosmos will be fielding a professional soccer team in the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the 2013 season,” O’Brien said in an open statement to fans via the club’s website.
“Our ultimate goal is to play at the very highest level and we feel today’s announcement is the first step in that direction.
“We are committed to reaching our place as the number one team in North America and our announcement today marks our first step on this great journey.”
O’Brien’s stated goal of turning the Cosmos into the “number one team in North America” does everything but explicitly state the club’s intentions of eventually moving to the U.S.’s first division, Major League Soccer.
MLS has been open in its quest to add an expansion franchise in New York City and the timing of the Cosmos’ announcement is no coincidence. Word has recently gotten out that MLS is currently in the earliest stages of developing a new stadium (possibly in Queens) for the league’s as-of-yet unknown 20th franchise.
New York has given an early warning shot that the once-iconic club intends to fill that void, and indeed it seems to be a logical dance partner. MLS has recently welcomed several teams from the U.S.’s second division (past invitees include the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps) and the Cosmos will be hoping to impress both on and off the field in order to make the leap.
It’s not easy to put together a competitive roster in a single season. It’s even more difficult to build an entire organization from scratch. As such, the Cosmos’ best shot at joining MLS isn’t necessarily through winning games on the field (few expansion teams do). Instead, New York should focus on demonstrating that it possesses a well-organized front office with a clear long-term plan for the club’s growth.
If O’Brien and his staff (potentially even including Pele) can convince MLS Commissioner Don Garber that they know how to leverage the club’s pre-established brand name to conquer New York, then the Cosmos stand a good chance of joining the heavy-hitters come 2014.
Photo via Flickr/The New York Cosmos