The New York Cosmos last competitive soccer match in the North American Soccer League was on Sept. 15, 1984, against the Chicago Sting. Now, almost three decades later, the New York Cosmos are throwing their hat back into the professional soccer ring, and the NASL. Make no mistake, these aren’t the Cosmos of Pele, Beckenbauer, and Cantona, but don’t hold that against them. If anything, this newest edition of the legendary club is hoping their storied past will help them form a new identity, for a sustainable future. The roster includes a mix of young and old, domestics and imports, and it’s most recognizable face is midfielder, Marcos Senna, former captain of Spanish outfit Villareal, and the Spanish national team.
On Monday night, media and fans crowded the Football Factory at Legends in New York City for the official 2013 Cosmos Media Day. The entire Cosmos roster and coaching staff were eager to meet the world, and present the new face of an historic franchise. Head coach, Giovanni Savarese, entertained reporters, and gave every indication that his squad would be ready for their season opener on Saturday night, against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The Cosmos will call Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium home for now, but with the proposal for Cosmos Stadium at Belmont Park already submitted, the future looks bright for the New York’s newest professional team. We caught up with a few members of the team for their thoughts on what it means to be a part of such a fabled organization, and how to manage expectations for the upcoming NASL season.
Interviews by Adam Silvers (@silversurfer103)
What does it mean to be a part of the Cosmos historic return to the North American Soccer League?
Defender, Hunter Gorskie: It’s extremely exciting. This organization is full of very important, very successful people. We have a great coaching staff, a great team, a lot of great players. To come back and be reintroduced to the league through the Cosmos brand name is truly an honor for me, I think all the guys would agree that it’s an honor for them as well. We’re all excited to get onto the field and start living up to the Cosmos name.
What are your expectations this year, considering it’s your first season back in professional soccer?
HG: Our expectations are to win the title. The ownership and the coaches have done their due diligence in putting together a really strong team, getting some very talented players, but also paying attention to how those players will mix and match out on the field. I’m pretty confident it’s a good product, and a product that’s going to win a lot of games.
Do you think you’ll have trouble adjusting from the college level to the NASL?
Our expectations are to win the title
HG: I think I’ll be able to translate right away. There are older guys on the team, younger guys on the team, but really when you’re here you don’t really feel a sense of hierarchy. If you can play, you can play. So far it’s been a pretty seamless transition, everyone’s been coming out and fighting in practice every day. That’s what I like to do, come out and work hard, be focussed, and let the rest take care of itself.
What are some of the challenges of taking the coaching reins for such a storied franchise that’s been away from the spotlight for so long?
Assistant Coach, Alecko Eskandarian: There are a ton of challenges. For one, the burden that the Cosmos name carries is as much a blessing as it is a bit of a curse in terms of expectations and pressure to perform at a certain level. With that said, I think that’s what makes this job so intriguing for me. As a player I loved pressure, thrived under pressure, and as a coach it’s no different. You want high expectations, you want high standards, that’s what makes being part of this club so special. We’re starting from scratch, it seems like just a few weeks ago we were sitting at a table and we had one player, Carlos Mendez, on the roster. To see it evolve into this is truly something special, something that I’m proud of, and I can’t wait to get started this Saturday.