After a 28 year absence, the New York Cosmos are back in town

New York Cosmos

Can the club who once had Pele, Beckenbauer and Alberto in their ranks thrive once again.

The New York Cosmos are making a welcome return to the soccer scene as they take their place in the North American Soccer League for the 2013 fall season.

Giovanni Savarese, who had a brief spell with Swansea City, is head coach of a youthful squad which will be led on the field by former Villarreal and Spain international, Marcos Senna.

The 37-year-old will bring a wealth of experience to a side which is looking to recapture the glory days of the late 70’s and early 80’s - when the Cosmos dominated the original NASL.

Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto were linchpins in that successful era and to continue the tradition, Pele is now honorary president and Carlos Alberto, along with the larger than life goalkeeper of that team Shep Messing, have roles as international ambassadors.

EricCantona is director of soccer, and together with former United States international Cobi Jones as his deputy, the backroom and off field staff are well positioned for a sustained challenge for the foreseeable future.

Obviously, the New York soccer scene has changed considerably since 1985 when the Cosmos last competed competitively.

The MLS was founded in 1993 as part of the successful 1994 world cup bid, and kicked off in 1996 riding on the back of that very world cup, with 10 teams involved.

Today, as soccer continually tries to increase its popularity across the US, New York City FC will become the leagues 20th team when they take up their franchise in the 2015 season. This will mean three professional soccer sides in the New York area, with the two new franchises joining MLS founder club the New York Red Bulls.

The Cosmos decision to not go for the 20th spot in the MLS is an interesting one. It may be claimed that New York City FC, with the backing of the New York Yankees and Manchester City was the only option for that last franchise place, but the structure of the MLS with its salary cap and all teams centrally owned by the league is a far more restrictive model than the NASL.

Of course, there is no promotion between the MSL and the NASL, so it is because of playing standards, budgets and television rights that the NASL is seen as the second tier competition.

The Cosmos could threaten that. They can again bring in marquee signings, not just under the Designated Player Rule, but as marquee signings in their own right, and as many as they want.

The blueprint is there from the way they operated pre-1985 and if they compete for the same signings which other well funded clubs across the globe are going for, there is no reason why they can not pull off a coup and sign some major stars

After all, Radamel Falcao has signed for Monaco in what is essentially seen as a weak league, so if the Cosmos can sell players of his ilk the vision for the club and the game in the States as Monaco have done to Falcao, who is to say which players could be plying their trade in the NASL in the years to come.

A knock on effect is also that the clubs in the NASL at the moment will have to invest to compete. If The Cosmos run away with the league as they did in the 80’s, where their talent and financial clout was too much for the other teams, and the league folded, what then? A repeat scenario would be in no ones interests so other clubs would be forced to compete with the Cosmos to give the NASL credibility

Whatever the end game, the Cosmos once again being part of the soccer landscape in America can only be a good thing. They are a club which has that glamour and star quality about them, and a business model to not only survive but thrive. When the season kicks off next weekend, we will see if they have what it takes to succeed on the pitch too.

image: © jamesboyes

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