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New York Cosmos continue to spend as club’s return draws closer, but money won’t buy fans

Jul 18, 2013, 7:26 PM EDT

Source: New York Cosmos Facebook page Source: New York Cosmos Facebook page

With the fall season of the North American Soccer League kicking off in early August, the New York Cosmos headed overseas on Thursday, arriving in London for a preseason camp. Matches against Leyton Orient on July 24 and Watford on July 27 loom as the club’s “Remember Us?” campaign nears its moment of truth.

After signing a group of players with something to prove — most of them having been overlooked for much of their professional careers — preparations for the Cosmos’ reboot are well under way. Without a salary cap standing in its way, New York has as much money as its directors are willing to spend to ensure the club’s return is a success.

So far, the Cosmos have signed Marcos Senna from Villarreal, hired former New York Red Bulls managing director Erik Stover as chief operating officer and secured Pelé as the club’s honorary president and Eric Cantona as the director of soccer. (What either of the latter two does in practice for the club will likely be minimal.)

[ Further reading: Believe it when you see it: New York Cosmos propose $400 milllion stadium ]

Every possible angle has been covered to ensure the Cosmos will receive positive press, including offering a shuttle between the nearest train station and Hofstra University, the club’s home, on game days. What remains to be seen is how the fan base and American soccer community at large will respond.

For now, branding is all the club has, along with its history as the most successful club in a league that it bankrupted in the 1970s and ’80s. Expect immense pressure to perform on its modest roster, which includes former U.S. international Danny Szetela, who hasn’t played since 2010, and Peri Marošević, who landed in the Croatian second division after a forgettable three-year MLS career.

[ Further reading: Three Good Questions for: Cosmos CEO Seamus O’Brien ]

The New York Cosmos experiment is not quite on the scale of David Beckham’s signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy, but it does suggest certain hubris about the club that has not existed in over 30 years, believing it can pick up the role of America’s sweetheart that it left behind.

The most expensive single-match tickets for a Cosmos game cost $95, nearly five times as expensive as some clubs’. That kind of valuation could leave the club scrambling if it fails to fill seats in its first half-season back from the dead.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls sit near the top of the Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer. Right now, the Cosmos have nothing on the club a division higher and with more momentum — both play outside of the city, but the Red Bulls have veritable star power on the field in Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.

Could it change with a run of good early results for the Cosmos? Maybe, but it’s hard to see a lower-division team finding its name in lights in Times Square, no matter how many games it wins.


  1. talgrath - Jul 18, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    “Without a salary cap standing in its way, New York has as much money as its directors are willing to spend to ensure the club’s return is a success.” Meet the new NASL, same as the old one. Sounds like another collapse is in the works.

  2. mvktr2 - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:13 AM

    This reads as if it’s written by a NYRB supporters group member. One could just as easily write an article 180 degrees the other direction promoting what Cosmos are doing and support it with facts, I have no desire to undertake such an effort. It’s worth pointing out the club has billionaire owners (iirc) and a salary sheet that’s what between 2 and 5 million dollars. Yes that’s a lot of coin by NASL standards but it’s nothing the rest of NASL can’t compete with in the same way that NYRB/LAG have spent 15 plus mil recently compared to some MLS teams spending 20% of that and competitive balance has remained. This article is really slanted and not the kind of material I come to PST to read. I’m fine with editorial stuff here, which this certainly is, but this is just bad. Sorry to be so harsh Mr Bird, nothing personal and I’m sure you write wonderfully. Sometimes we swing for the fences and roll a ball to first base instead.

    The further reality is that there is no ‘tier’ system in US soccer. Certainly there are competing and varied levels and we’re starting to see an official tier system develop with the USL Pro/MLS partnership. NASL has aspirations to surpass MLS. Those aspirations are some fairly long odds, maybe 3% chance of it happening. Aspirations in this lifetime should be applauded, far to many aren’t willing to dream. So what if they fail, they’ve failed before. The market will sort things out ultimately deciding the performance ceiling for Cosmos, NASL, MLS, and every sports team or league.

  3. charliej11 - Jul 19, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    $95 for a tickets to league game in the US ? Not in MLS ? Wow. Good luck.

    I realize the pipedream is to hit the 3% chance that MVKT2 talks about above ( 3%, are you kidding me, it is .0003% )….but that is not happening. Even if the Cosmos pull off a huge one and really hit it big, they will win every thing all the time and the league will do worse, not better.

    We have been here before.
    NASL grew and grew and grew and then the Cosmos bought all the talent, won every year and then…..

  4. footballer4ever - Jul 21, 2013 at 2:49 AM

    NY Cosmos made a mistake for not willing to comply with MLS vision which has been a hard work in progress for 18 years. I guess some within Cosmos organization got stuck in the 70’s and believe they will make the NASL grow on its own. I wish them well because any football growth in the states at any level will be good for everyone who loves this football game.

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