New York Cosmos (2010)

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New York Cosmos
New York Cosmos 2010.svg
Full nameNew York Cosmos
Short nameCosmos
FoundedAugust 1, 2010; 8 years ago (2010-08-01)[1][nb 1]
StadiumMCU Park
Brooklyn, New York[2]
Capacity7,000
OwnerNew York Cosmos LLC[citation needed]
ChairmanRocco B. Commisso
Head Coachvacant
LeagueNorth American Soccer League[3]
2017Spring: 3rd
Fall: 4th
Combined: 4th
Playoffs: Finals
WebsiteClub website

The New York Cosmos is an American professional soccer club based in the New York City borough of Brooklyn that play in the North American Soccer League since 2013. The present formation of the team and organization, established since August 2010, is a rebirth[4][5][6] of the original New York Cosmos (1970–1985) that played in the previous North American Soccer League (1968–1984), the former first division of North American soccer. The Cosmos play at MCU Park on the Coney Island boardwalk.

The Cosmos' ownership group is headed by chairman Rocco B. Commisso.

The team won the Soccer Bowl Trophy in 2013, 2015 and 2016. They are currently on hiatus, following the cancellation of the league's 2018 season.[7]

History[edit]

1985–2012: Fall of the original Cosmos and revival[edit]

The original New York Cosmos club was founded on December 10, 1970, and was named on February 4, 1971. The original North American Soccer League ceased operations after the 1984 season and the Cosmos were dissolved in 1985 after playing a season in the Major Indoor Soccer League.[8] Peppe Pinton, managing director for the Cosmos at the time, continued to run and operate youth camps started in 1977 and named after the club's stars.[9][10][11]

With the rise of Major League Soccer (MLS) during the late 1990s and 2000s, various New York City area entities approached Pinton about using the name for an MLS franchise. The existing franchise in New York, the MetroStars, made relevant inquiries both before and after becoming the New York Red Bulls in 2006.[12] Pinton was reluctant to let the name be used by an MLS team, believing that the league was unwilling to respect the Cosmos' heritage;[13] however, after seeing MLS reintroduce historical NASL names, he changed his mind. In late August 2009, Pinton sold the name and image rights to Paul Kemsley, the former vice-chairman of English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur,[12][14][15] who headed a group intent on establishing a new Cosmos team in MLS. As the group's honorary president, Pelé announced the club's return on August 1, 2010.[16]

The Cosmos team at Old Traford before the first match of the revived franchise v. Manchester United in August 2011

Kemsley's group included English soccer businessman Terry Byrne as vice-chairman, as well as former Liverpool CEO Rick Parry.[17][18] Former Manchester United forward Eric Cantona was added as director of soccer in mid-January 2011,[19] with former United States player Cobi Jones as associate director. The original Cosmos' top goalscorer, Giorgio Chinaglia, was also named an international ambassador before his death in 2012.[17]

The new Cosmos' first match was on August 5, 2011, when they played against Manchester United at Old Trafford in Paul Scholes's testimonial match. Cantona managed a team of guest players from around the world.[20][21][22]

On October 26, 2011, Kemsley was bought out by Sela Sport, a Saudi Arabian sports marketing company.[23][24][25][26] The departure of Kemsley as chairman and CEO was announced by the Cosmos with an official club statement saying that he wished "to pursue other interests and commitments". His replacement was not immediately announced.[27] A further press release on November 2 gave news of the company buyout, restructuring and various unspecified management changes within the organization. The statement also said that the goal of the club remained the same under its new owners – "unequivocally" to become an MLS team.[28]

Within weeks of purchasing the club, new chairman and CEO, Seamus O'Brien, had a series of meetings with MLS commissioner, Don Garber, about joining Major League Soccer. Garber was eager to add the Cosmos to MLS, but O'Brien balked at the $100M expansion fee, single-entity structure, and requirement that the league control the brand. O'Brien decided not to apply for MLS entry after all.[29]

2013–2015: Return to competitive league play[edit]

The Cosmos announced on July 12, 2012, that they would start competitive play in the second-tier North American Soccer League in 2013, but insisted in the same press release that the club was still bent on ultimately joining MLS.[3][30] In November, Erik Stover was hired as the club's Chief Operating Officer. Stover had previously been managing director of the New York Red Bulls, during which time he had been named MLS Executive of the Year, and was seen as instrumental in getting their stadium built.[31] The following week, Giovanni Savarese was confirmed as the team's first head coach.[32] On December 11, former Red Bulls defender Carlos Mendes, a native of Long Island, became the new Cosmos' first senior player.[33]

The Cosmos found immediate success in the NASL, winning the Fall Season Championship with a 9–4–1 (Win-Draw-Loss) record.[34] On November 9, 2013, the team emerged as the winner of Soccer Bowl 2013, winning 1–0 against the spring season champions, the Atlanta Silverbacks.[35] In June 2015 the New York Cosmos played a friendly against the Cuban national team, the first American professional club to play in Cuba after the United States began normalizing relations with the island nation.[36]

Despite on-field success, the Cosmos struggled to draw fans at Hofstra.[37][38]

After the Cosmos won the 2016 NASL Championship Final, supporters publicly called for a meeting with the club's owners, citing a lack of transparency from management and concerns over the club's future.[39][40]

2016–present: Financial struggles and sale[edit]

In November 2016, there were reports the team was in dire financial condition, including furloughs for 60–80% of the staff and an inability to make payroll.[41][42] Later reports indicated that the Cosmos had lost over thirty million dollars since beginning play in 2013, including as much as $10 million in 2016.[43][44][45]

On December 6, 2016, various media outlets began reporting that the Cosmos had released all players and coaching staff from their contracts.[46][47] Cosmos supporters launched an online campaign to raise funds for affected employees.[48] On December 9, most of the club's employees were officially laid off.[49]

In an interview with the Guardian, O'Brien admitted the financial losses but denied that the club was in danger of going out of business, insisting that they had "zero debt".[50] Empire of Soccer pointed out that while O'Brien was saying that, the Cosmos were being sued for over $50,000 in unpaid rent on their Garden City, Long Island offices.[51] Despite O'Brien's public statements, the team came within a few hours of going out of business altogether, as he came to an agreement to sell the Cosmos brand to a private equity firm. On December 15, 2016, the day O'Brien was to finalize that deal, he began negotiations with Rocco B. Commisso, a cable television executive with a lifelong interest in soccer.[52] On January 10, 2017, it was announced that Commisso purchased the majority interest in the Cosmos. His investment kept the club and league from folding and allowed both to return for the 2017 NASL Season.[52][53] ESPN reported that O'Brien and Sela Sport retained a minority stake in the club, although supporters claim that Commisso assured them that Sela Sport is no longer part of the ownership.[54][55]

On December 13, 2017, the Cosmos announced that Savarese had left the club "to pursue other coaching opportunities".[56]

Hiatus[edit]

Following the cancellation of the NASL's 2018 season, the league announced that the Cosmos would take a hiatus while exploring options to return to the field in 2019.[7]

In September 2018, Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover stepped down to become the CEO of a local soccer academy.[57]

Stadium[edit]

In July 2012, when the Cosmos' entry to the second-tier North American Soccer League was confirmed, starting in 2013, The New York Times reported that the club would initially play home games at James M. Shuart Stadium, on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, about 20 miles (32 km) east of downtown New York City on Long Island. The stadium seats 11,929,[58] and was home to the original Cosmos club during the 1972 and 1973 seasons.[2]

The Cosmos struggled to draw fans to Hofstra, and after four seasons announced that they would play their 2017 regular-season matches at MCU Park, a minor-league baseball stadium in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn.[37][38][59] The Cosmos had used MCU Park as a home field twice before, once for a regular season match against the Ottawa Fury and once for a post season match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers,[60] both in 2015.

The Cosmos proposed to construct a new 25,000-seat stadium at a parking lot next to the Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont, in Nassau County just over the border with Queens. Plans for the $400 million project were submitted to the Empire State Development Corporation as a response to a request for proposal.[61] On December 9, 2016, the Empire State Development Corporation officially withdrew the RFP and rejected all four proposals, including that of the Cosmos.[62]

Scheduling conflicts prevented the Cosmos from using Shuart Stadium for the 2016 Championship Final, and they were forced to rent another stadium.[63] They eventually settled on Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John's University.[64] The announcement that the league's championship game would be played in a 2,200-seat venue prompted derision from fans of the club and league, who took to social media with the hashtag #BiggerThanBelson.[65] The Final was played at Belson but failed to sell out, with only 2,150 tickets sold.[66]

Kits and crest[edit]

Kit suppliers and shirt sponsors
Period Kit supplier Shirt sponsor Notes
2011 Umbro
2012
2013
2013–2015 Nike Emirates Airlines[67] From 2013 NASL Fall season,
Nike sponsorship started.[68]
2016 Under Armour[69]
2017 Inaria[70]

Supporters[edit]

Current[edit]

There are currently two supporters groups sharing the "Five Points" supporters section at MCU Park.[71] The groups are La Banda del Cosmos, a barra brava for Latin American fans,[72] and The Cross Island Crew, primarily for fans on Long Island.[73][74] The Cross Island Crew was founded as "Sagan's Army", in a reference to Carl Sagan, but re-branded in December 2013.[75]

Former[edit]

The original supporters group was the Borough Boys Supporters Club, formed in 2007 to lobby MLS Commissioner Don Garber for a club based in New York City.[76] After Kemsley's group bought the Cosmos name in late 2009, the Borough Boys became their first supporters group, believing that the Cosmos represented "the best choice for MLS expansion", and remained with the club even after New York City FC was announced as the twentieth MLS club in May 2013.[77]

In June 2017, the Borough Boys' podcast/website This is Cosmos Country announced that they would no longer be covering the Cosmos, following a dispute with the club.[78] In an interview with Empire of Soccer, they raised questions about the ownership of the Cosmos, including wondering whether Sela Sport still had an interest.[55] After the EoS article was published, TICC founder Luis Hernandez received a phone call from Cosmos Senior Vice President Joe Barone. Barone complained about TICC's coverage of the Cosmos, and claimed to have himself received an angry phone call from Commisso, then in Saudi Arabia for a friendly match. Hernandez said "We feel we just have to walk away. They're trying to bully us. We love the team. We're fans. We support the on-field product. We're behind [Head Coach Giovanni Savarese], his players and staff. It's an unfortunate situation. None of us want to be part of this anymore."[78] Commisso later denied making such a call to Barone, saying "Somebody lied."[79] As of late 2017, the Borough Boys no longer had "any official relationship" with the club.[80]

Broadcasting[edit]

The Cosmos were originally broadcast by One World Sports, a network that was run by the team's chairman Seamus O'Brien.[81] For the 2013 season, all Cosmos games were broadcast live on One World Sports and live or tape-delayed on SportsNet New York. The majority of the games featured the on-air team of play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and Janusz Michallik as the color analyst. One World Sports also produced Cosmos Classics, an original series featuring historic Cosmos matches from the 1970s and 1980s.[82]

On March 16, 2017, coinciding with the team's new ownership, and the sale of One World Sports to Eleven Sports, the Cosmos announced a new broadcast deal with MSG Network and WPIX-TV.[83] Ed Cohen handled play-by-play alongside Sal Rosamilia as color analyst.

Retired numbers[edit]

No. Player Pos. Tenure Nation Ref.
9 Giorgio Chinaglia Forward 1976–1983 Italy Italy [84][85]
10 Pelé Forward 1975–1977 Brazil Brazil [86]

Honors[edit]

League[edit]

Honor Champions Runners-up
North American Soccer League Soccer Bowl 2013, 2015, 2016 2017
Spring championship 2015 2014, 2016
Fall championship 2013, 2016

Minor trophies[edit]

Winners: 2015

Ownership and team management[edit]

As of February 8, 2017.[87][88]

Owners[edit]

The chairman is cable television executive Rocco B. Commisso.[54] Other members of the ownership group include former club chairman Seamus O'Brien and Sela Sport, a marketing company based in Saudi Arabia.[89] Ownership partners include International Sports Events and World Sport Group.[90]

Directors[edit]

  • Chairman and CEO: Rocco B. Commisso

Technical staff[edit]

Operations[edit]

  • Chief operating officer: Erik Stover
  • Senior Vice President: Joe Barone
  • Vice President of Finance: Kevin Kletz

Youth academy[edit]

The club operated the Cosmos Academy, which it formed on foundation in August 2010. The academy was affiliated with Blau Weiss Gottschee and based in Queens, New York. It competed at various levels of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, fielding teams in the under-9 to under-18 age groups.[91] The US under-17 team's Spring 2011 roster included three players from the Cosmos Academy, more than any MLS team.[92][93]

A western division called Cosmos Academy West existed between August 2010 and August 2011, based in Pomona, California, about 27 miles (43 km) east of Los Angeles.[nb 2] At the end of 2010, it was ranked by Soccer America as the third best boys' club in the United States and the top boys' club in California.[95][96] Six months after its original partnership with Los Angeles Futbol Club was terminated in February 2011,[94][95][97] Cosmos Academy West disbanded in August 2011, its operations folded into those of MLS club Chivas USA.[98] This was done so that the Cosmos would fit more closely the requirements of a potential MLS team based out of New York City.[99]

As part of the deal made with the Cosmos in 2010, Blau Weiss Gottschee were to receive payment from New York in January and August each year. After the first two bi-annual payments were made on-time, an unspecified amount was still outstanding from the third three months after its due date on August 1, 2011, causing Blau Weiss Gottschee to file suit for non-payment against the Cosmos on November 8, 2011. Because of the lack of funding, Blau Weiss was forced to restore the tuition, transport and training fees which players had been required to pay before the 2010 deal, but which had been thereafter covered by the Cosmos sponsorship. The Blau Weiss statement did not reveal the court in which the claim will be filed.[100]

An under-23 Cosmos side was accepted into the USL Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the United States soccer pyramid, in May 2011, and was expected to join for the 2012 season. In preparation for this it played exhibition matches against existing PDL clubs during 2011, coached by Savarese.[101] However, it did not take part in the 2012 PDL season.[102]

In fall of 2014, the Cosmos announced that recently signed Raúl González Blanco would, upon his retirement from playing, assume a full-time role overseeing the Cosmos academy.[103] However, when Raúl retired in 2015, he instead took a position with La Liga, overseeing its offices in the United States,[104] and his son Hugo went into the New York City FC academy.[105]

Attempted Major League Soccer expansion[edit]

At the time of the Cosmos' return in 2010, MLS was made up of 16 franchises, with three new teams set to join over the following two seasons: the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers in 2011, and the Montreal Impact in 2012. Newsday reported in late April 2011 that the league was committed to placing the next franchise in the New York borough of Queens if a deal could be reached.[106] Terry Byrne said in July 2011 that the stadium was the biggest factor regarding the Cosmos' accession to MLS. "The league wants us to demonstrate that we are capable of taking a stadium [area] and building a stadium," he said.[107]

Working alongside New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Cosmos sought a location within New York City's boroughs rather than a surrounding city (which would distinguish them from the Red Bulls, based in Harrison, New Jersey). Over a dozen locations around Queens, The Bronx, and Manhattan were marked out in March 2011,[108][107] narrowed down to four sites by the end of July; two in Queens and one each in Brooklyn and "uptown" Manhattan.[107]

Apart from the stadium, an issue regarding MLS membership was the franchise fee that the Cosmos would have to pay to the league. When the club first announced its intention to join, the price stood at $40 million, but by the end of July 2011 the fee for any expansion team playing in New York had risen to $70 million, a 57% rise from the entry price paid by Montreal. At this time the club and league were in negotiations, which included talks over perhaps starting play at a temporary home stadium for "two or three years".[109] By the end of 2011, the Cosmos decided not to apply for an MLS franchise after all, in part because they rejected the league's single entity structure, and because they did not want to relinquish marketing rights to their name and logo.[6][29]

In May 2013, Major League Soccer announced that their 20th franchise would be a different New York–based team, New York City FC, a new team co-owned by Premier League team Manchester City and Major League Baseball team the New York Yankees.[110] Cosmos chairman Seamus O'Brien, however, noted that London had fourteen professional soccer teams, so New York City could "handle three."[111]

In February 2014, MLS commissioner Don Garber named three other markets as candidates for the final expansion team that would get the league's stated 24-team target by 2020,[112] and on April 25, 2014, he told Associated Press's sports editors that there would not be a third MLS team in New York.[113]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Original NASL team founded December 10, 1970.
  2. ^ While Cosmos Academy West existed, the Cosmos Academy based in Queens was called Cosmos Academy East.[94]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography
  • Newsham, Gavin (2006). Once in a Lifetime: The Incredible Story of the New York Cosmos. New York City: Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-4288-5.
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