New York Cosmos to Join NASL in 2013

In the most significant step to date toward their ultimate goal of joining the U.S. top flight, the revived New York Cosmos franchise announced on Thursday that they will join the North American Soccer League for the 2013 season.

The NASL, which adopted its name from the league the original Cosmos played in from 1971 to ’85, is the current home of second-division soccer in the U.S.  The league consists of eight teams, including reborn versions of old NASL sides, and Cosmos rivals, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. The Cosmos, who have no players at the moment, will be the NASL’s ninth team.

The team will reportedly begin play at Long Island’s Hofstra University, where the original Cosmos played in 1972 and ’73.

“We are delighted to return to our historic home with the NASL and bring the New York Cosmos back to the playing field,” said Cosmos chairman Seamus O’Brien. “We are committed to running the franchise with the highest possible standards on and off the field, and look forward to putting together a competitive and entertaining team our fans can be proud of.”

The nascent franchise sees the move as a first step to rebuilding the Cosmos brand and reaching its goal “to play ultimately at the highest level and be the No. 1 side in North America,” according to O’Brien.

Major League Soccer recently undertook an examination of Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens as a possible site for a stadium that would house the league’s 20th franchise.

The Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, and Vancouver Whitecaps have all recently made the jump from U.S. second-division soccer to MLS.

Giorgio Chinaglia: 1947–2012

Former Lazio, Italy, and New York Cosmos star Giorgio Chinaglia died yesterday, succumbing to complications following a heart attack. He was 65.

A burly, skillful striker, Chinaglia is the North American Soccer League’s alltime leading scorer, with 242 goals in 254 regular-season and playoff appearances for the Cosmos.

He played alongside Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, and Carlos Alberto in New York, among many other stars, and may have outshined them all. The Cosmos won four NASL titles in Chinaglia’s nine years with the team, capturing the trophy in 1977, ’78, ’80 and ’82. The pinnacle of his U.S. career came in 1980, when he scored 32 goals in the regular season and an incredible 18 in seven playoff games to lead the Cosmos to the championship.

Got 15 minutes? Here are all 50 of Chinaglia’s goals from 1980, including seven in one game against the Tulsa Roughnecks (see the 10:45 mark):

Gotta love that sign-off. “You got 50 for the year, George. How do you top that?” “Not bad, not bad. We’ll try again next year.”

We also enjoyed Cosmos announcer Jim Karvellas—who died in 2007—and his call on Chinaglia’s penalties: “He winds…fires…goal!”

H/T to the Striker Liker.

Your Colossal Early-2011 Backpost Roundup


Yeah, we’ve missed a few stories as the New Year has gotten off the ground. Today, we catch up (again) with links, clips, and roughly 1,200 words on the biggest BP talking points of the past seven or eight days.

Ready, set, go:

• The Beckham-to-Tottenham arrangement turned out to be a training stint only, and it has not—as yet, anyway—transformed into a loan deal.

• Remember this guy? He was red-carded for that heroin smuggling charge last year and now faces a 51- to 63-month suspension.

• The fallout continued to rain down from FIFA’s dubious decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, as Mohammed Bin Hamman, Qatar’s representative on the FIFA executive committee, bit the hand that feeds (or that Qatar fed?), criticizing Sepp Blatter’s regime while also rejecting proposals to move the tournament to January to escape Qatar’s unhealthy summer heat.

“I believe Qatar can stand alone and organize the competition by itself,” said Bin Hamman, “and I’m really not very impressed by these opinions to distribute the game over the Gulf or change the time from July to January.”

That was interesting, but then Bin Hamman went on to add, in a moment of irony so dense it caused the head of everyone within earshot to explode:

“I think we [FIFA] need to be more open to the people, more transparent. A lot of things could be done. Maybe the actual administration can do that, they have to commit themselves to doing that. The structure is not helpful or useful for our world.”

Can mere words adequately do the above justice? We’re not even going to try.

Edson Buddle left MLS for Bundesliga 2 side Ingolstadt, and these guys were not happy about it. We can hardly blame them; the German side, which is in second-to-last place in the German second-flight—in other words, on the brink of dropping to the third division—reportedly offered Buddle twice his MLS salary.

So long, Edson. Here’s another look at his half-brilliant, half-fluky goal vs Seattle in last year’s playoffs:

• Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry embarked on an offsesaon training stint with his old club, Arsenal, while his countryman defender Didier Domi signed a deal with the New England Revolution. Domi, 32, has played for PSG, Newcastle, Leeds, and Espanyol.

• In other Red Bulls news, the club confirmed the long-anticipated signings of Norwegian midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli, and speedy, feisty English forward Luke Rodgers. More intriguingly, to us anyway, New York also acquired 20-year-old Brazilian winger Marcos Paullo, formerly of Atletico Paranaense, the same club for which reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira used to play.

For video of the young Paullo, um, not scoring, click here (he does look skillful though).

New York is also in talks with homegrown product Matt Kassel, a midfielder who played at Maryland, about an MLS contract.

• Chivas USA striker Justin Braun and FC Dallas defender Ugo Ihemelu were released from Bob Bradley’s January US national team camp. Both players were struggling with injuries. The MLS-heavy US roster will meet Chile on Jan 22 at the Home Depot Center (TeleFutura, 10 p.m. EST).

DC United signed 24-year-old Uruguayan defender Rodrigo Brasesco, on loan from Uruguyan first-division side Racing Club.

• Promising 18-year-old Toronto FC academy product Nicholas Lindsay will miss the entire 2011 season with a knee injury.

• Following weeks of speculation that he would join the expansion side, former MLS and occasional U.S. national team striker Kenny Cooper officially signed with the Portland Timbers. Portland fans are excited about the prospect of Cooper and No. 2 draft pick Darlington Nagbe paired up top for their team.

• US defender Maurice (or “Morris,” as they call him in Scotland) Edu returned from a two-month injury layoff and did this for Rangers against SPL foes Hamilton:

Said Rangers boss Walter Smith as the team approached a busy patch of the schedule, trailing SPL leaders Celtic by five points: “We’ve got a lot of games coming up and Maurice Edu needs some game time.”

• The MLS SuperDraft and Supplemental Draft both concluded within the past seven days, giving us, among other players, a Mr. Irrelevant and a Mr. Utterly [?] Irrelevant, namely William and Mary’s Alan Koger—a striker picked last in the SuperDraft (by New England)—and South Florida defender Javed Mohammed, selected with the final choice of the Supplemental Draft, by Colorado.

Kidding aside, the MLS version of Mr. Irrelevant does not always live up to his name—see Parke, Jeff, class of 2004, the starting centerback for Seattle Sounders FC six years later.

Late-round Supplemental Draft picks are not always doomed to obscurity, either. The 2005 edition featured two final-round picks you may recognize: Jeff Larentowicz and Chris Wondolowski—both currently in training camp with the US national team.

• The Chicago Fire added two Designated Players last season, Swedish midfielder Freddie Ljungberg and Mexican attacker Nery Castillo—and both are gone now. Ljungberg signed with Glasgow Celtic a few weeks ago, and today, Chicago confirmed that Castillo will go on a five-month loan to Greek club Aris.

• There was an Oguchi Onyewu sighting yesterday—on the field, in a competitive game, that is. After months of bench warming at AC Milan, the hulking US center-back was loaned to Dutch league defending champs FC Twente on Jan 11. Yesterday Gooch debuted—at left back—in a 5-0 rout of Heracles Almelo. Great to hear that Gooch is back in action after 20 months out of club ball, but … not so sure about that new position.

• Other Americans on the move or reportedly on the move included midfielder Jermaine Jones, who left Schalke 04 to join EPL side Blackburn on loan, striker Robbie Findley, who signed with Nottingham Forest, and Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder Michael Bradley, who was rumored to be the target of a transfer bid from Sunderland.

• Last, but definitely not least, you have to like the way the re-born New York Cosmos are conducting business so far.

They hope to become MLS’s 20th team, in 2013, and they’ve already established youth academies on both coasts of the United States, headed up by former MLS stars Ted Chronopoulos and Giovanni Savarese. These training centers have already started to bear fruit, placing players in the US U-17 residency program and with the US U-15s.

On Jan 10, the Cosmos hired former US national team midfielder Cobi Jones as assistant director of soccer, and yesterday they unveiled former Manchester United icon Eric Cantona as director of soccer.

Given Cantona’s track record, this last move may be more of a publicity splash than an actual executive addition, but it’s certainly interesting. As were Cantona’s quotes after his hiring was announced. We’re not sure if there was a translation problem, or what, but … well, take a look:

“The Cosmos are very strong, beautifully made, with a great past. It’s kind of a mix between football and art.”

Then again, that’s probably just the quote we should expect from Cantona, who flashed midfield brilliance, Gallic impetuousness, and a popped collar during his years at Manchester United.

The latter two are on display here:

All right folks, that’s it for this round. If we missed something here, we either covered it elsewhere on the site—or we’re just going to have to live with missing it. But feel free to let us know of any big omissions in the comments. Onward.

Cosmos Inching Closer to MLS?

Pelé's birth certificate says he's 70, but pictures tell a different story.

The New York Cosmos told the New Jersey Record yesterday that they’ve secured financing to build a stadium in New York City, with the goal of becoming the 20th MLS franchise in 2013.

“Our intent is to be the 20th team in MLS,” Cosmos director of soccer Terry Byrne told The Record. “We’ve had several meetings with Mr. Garber and progressed very positively.”

The Cosmos have also already set up two youth academies, one on each coast, that are being led by former MetroStarts Giovanni Savarese and Ted Chronopoulos. Three Cosmos youth players have been invited to join the U.S. Under-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla.

Umbro Inks Deal with Reborn Cosmos

From Backpost reader The Striker Liker comes news that Umbro has signed a deal to be the official uniform and apparel supplier for the recently revived New York Cosmos.

The new kit looks good, and keeps much of the flavor of the vintage Cosmos shirts (see here), but there is one potential problem with the deal as the franchise moves forward. If the Cosmos want to join MLS, which we understand they do—and Commissioner Don Garber has hinted that the next expansion franchise will come from New York—Umbro will not be able to join with them.

That’s because the official uniform supplier of MLS is adidas, which just agreed to a new eight-year contract with the league.

But hey, the Cosmos will just have to cross that bridge when they come to it, which they hope to do around 2013.

Peppe Pinton’s Ship Comes In! Cosmos to Return

Below is one of the funniest moments from the great documentary Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos.

It shows Peppe Pinton, a Giorgio Chinaglia functionary and former general manager of the fabled NASL side, which went under in 1984, asserting his “ownership” of the Cosmos name and logo.

Hilarity ensues when former Warner executives Jay Emmett and Ahmet Ertegun respond to Pinton’s claim:

But now, it appears that Pinton may be getting the last laugh, or at least a final chuckle: On Sunday, a group led by former Tottenham executive Paul Kemsley announced that it had purchased the rights to the name from Pinton and intend to restart the franchise.

They’ve named Pelé as honorary president and intend to join Major League Soccer in the next few years.

Here’s Joe Fraga, executive director of the reborn club, talking to the New York Times:

“Our plan has several phases, but if you fast-forward, it’s our aspiration to play at the highest level in this country and that’s M.L.S. And we are serious. We want to make it relevant again, we want kids to know what the Cosmos were and are, to bring the soccer dream back to the city.”

So the MLS expansion plan for the next three years looks like this:

2011: Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers (17th and 18th teams)

2012: Montreal Impact (19th)

2013: New York Cosmos?? (20th)

We say bring it on: a new franchise in New York would create an instant rivalry with the rising Red Bulls, attract more international-caliber players to MLS, and recall some of the glory years of American soccer, when Pele, Chinaglia, and Beckenbauer (not to mention Best, Cruyff and Muller) roamed U.S stadiums.

Here is one of the sickest goals of that period (or any), a flying backheel by oft-overlooked Cosmos star Roberto Cabanas of Paraguay: