Chavez: Raul – A Cosmo Worthy of his Predecessors

IMAGE, DAVE MARTINEZ FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Nick Chavez covers NYCFC for Soccer Newsday. He is also an avid supporter of the team
and one of the brightest local advocates for NYCFC.


by NICK CHAVEZ
Contributing Writer

Glowing brilliantly in white like a celestial warrior gracefully delivering the Lord’s righteous judgment with precise and decisive blows, Raúl González Blanco terrorized Spain and Europe’s best clubs for 18 years, ruthlessly putting even the most storied and proud clubs to the sword.

With FIFA’s official “Club of the 20th Century” Real Madrid, he scored an all-time team record 323 goals in 741 games, which is no small feat in the most offensively-minded club of all time, especially considering the pantheon of football gods that have entertained the world’s most demanding fans in the Bernabéu over the past century.

In his reign of power, “El Angel del Madrid” won six La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League crowns, and is the Spanish National Team’s 2nd all-time leading scorer, only surpassed by another Spanish living legend, David “El Guaje” Villa — coincidentally employed by neighboring New York City FC.

Raúl was also the sole, reigning holder of the all-time UEFA Champions League scoring record for several years with 71 goals in total, a record that would still be quite safe if it weren’t for Lionel Messi and fellow Real Madrid icon Cristiano Ronaldo both just breaking through that ceiling. With these remarkable talents redefining the meaning of the word “prolific,” it’s proof positive of the elite echelon of footballing achievement to which Raúl rightly belongs.

In short, Raúl is one of the very best players to ever play the game. And he just officially signed with the NASL’s storied New York Cosmos.

But, at age 37, what can the Cosmos expect to get out of Raúl?

Although Raúl is an absolute legend, it’s difficult to say exactly how marketable he will be since his hey-day was during the late 90’s and the turn of the century, in a period where the international game was less available to Americans, less embraced by the U.S. sports media and decidedly less popular Stateside.

His final years with Real Madrid were marred with relative frustration, with the “Galactico policy” beginning to fail on the field, and in the rebuilding, Raúl valiantly captained an unbalanced Real Madrid side that went six years in a row of being eliminated in the first knockout round of the Champion’s League.

He managed to win a couple more La Liga titles before club President Florentino Perez returned once again with “Galacticos 2.0” in 2009, and the arrival of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema along with the emerging Gonzalo Higuain meant that Raúl might find starts and minutes at a premium, forcing him to consider the next stage of his career.

He of course went on to help Germany’s FC Schalke 04 to the Champion’s League semi-finals in a mini career rebirth, scoring an impressive 28 goals in 66 appearances and winning a DFB-Pokal Cup (Germany’s Domestic Cup) with the club.

Point being, once considered arguably the best in the world in 2001, Raúl’s star has had over a decade to wane.  It also doesn’t help that he played in La Liga; a competition that is still often ignored by many English-speaking Americans, who often much prefer the English Premier League, and only catch a Real Madrid match when they’re playing v. Barcelona or against their favorite European side.

With Cosmos hoping to compete with the likes of New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls for fans and media attention, needing a boost from their lagging game attendances, will the likes of the legendary Raúl truly be the difference maker they’re hoping for?

Well, he certainly can’t hurt. Even with the great career he’s had, Marcos Senna was never going to be a major draw on his own, plying his trade for the less-than-glamorous Villarreal CF of La Liga, though famously leading Spain to its first piece of major silverware since 1964 with the 2008 Euro Cup crown. But, how many casual American soccer fans honestly remember his role in that?

Raúl is a much bigger name, and finally one that is worthy to be among the legends of Cosmos tradition that included the likes of Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer. His name certainly brings real prestige to the Cosmos that has been missing for about 34 years.

Even at 37 years old, Raúl’s world-class quality and work-rate should make him a headache to deal with for NASL’s defenders in the U.S. second Division. Raúl has always taken very good care of himself physically (even famously spending his nights sleeping in an oxygen tent towards the end of his career), is a family man that never went out to party as many footballers do nowadays, and is renowned for his uncompromising professionalism.

His combined role of also being technical advisor for the New York Cosmos’ youth academy is also a major coup for the club, as he will bring immediate credibility and star power to that recruiting effort, which can only benefit the Cosmos and New York soccer youth development in general.  He’ll even oversee the Cosmos academy full-time when he decides to retire from playing, assuring a global face to a driven and aspiring development system.

If you want to “hand the keys” to someone, Raúl’s as good as anyone, especially considering that the biggest club in the world Real Madrid were offering him the prestigious Sporting Director position, and is also frequently considered to be likely to be offered the job of manager of Real Madrid’s first-team after gaining experience in that, as Zinedine Zidane has been reportedly preparing for the past couple of years, shadowing the likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti while earning his coaching badges.

The Cosmos, Raúl partnership is a win for both sides. Raúl is most likely looking to “cut his teeth” and gain experience with the New York Cosmos, working with the academy, getting more hands on experience coaching and being responsible for these aspects of the game so that he will be better equipped for the pressure-filled responsibility of taking on these roles at Valdebébas, and ultimately, el Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Likewise, the Cosmos get a striker — a position they sorely needed to upgrade — and a world recognized talent to steer their future.

Considering these lofty goals and Raúl’s renowned professionalism, Cosmos fans should expect only the best from “El Eterno 7”, as they anticipate another one of the greatest players of all-time putting on that famous green shirt.

  • Dave from Dix Hills

    Does Nick feel ok?

  • Here’s some question ideas for the self styled “first” NYCFC reporter:

    1. Why did I find it necessary to bury and delete and photocrop my social media past as NY’s #1 Red Bull fan?

    2. Why is the NYCFC manufactured supporter’s group, Third Rail, led by a Cosmos fan, Chance Michaels?

    3. Why haven’t the Yankees paid a penny for their share of the partnership?

    4. Why was NYCFC awarded a franchise when everyone who knows anything about US soccer and NY knew that a stadium was at least a decade away?

    5. Why does MLS continue to lie about the number of season tickets sold, saying 20,000 now 11,000 when the real number of actual tickets sold is just under 5,000?

    6. Why does MLS say they were paid a franchise fee of $100 million, when it was actually around $10m a year for 7 years, or a present value of about $54m?

    7. Why does the club and the third rail membership feel it is necessary to lie that the supporters group is independent?

    8. If you couldn’t get a stadium done under Bloomberg and Quinn, how on earth do you expect to do it under de Blasio and Viverito?

    9. Why hasn’t Frank Lampard apologized yet for his 9/11 comments?

    10. Why would NYCFC, who has said it will be run independently of its parent club, allow Lampard to even consider staying with the parent club?

    11. If you believe in soccer in NYC, why did you create the colors of the team in the image of the Manchester team?

    12. When will the government of Dubai, under Sheik Mansour’s leadership, erase the castration for gays provision from its criminal laws?

    You see, if you want to be a cub reporter, there’s plenty of things you can ask about. Instead, you write silly and failed attempts at hatchet jobs under the guise of “opinion”. Oh right, because corporatized, manufactured, plastic sycophantic fans of a manufactured, plastic, baby brother teams have no interest in asking the tough questions. They just cross their fingers for a job.

    • Reporter on the move

      Yes, Nick – how about some answers?

  • Smith

    there is still time to jump off the man city usa ship, Nick

    You can do it!

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    • Anonymous

      NO ANSWERS ! you think your guide to legitimacy is being a MLS pr person your sorely mistaken.

  • Tony

    After getting rejected by MLS/NYCFC Nick Chavez is like:
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9aofoBrFNdg

  • Sam U El

    A New York take on the Bard:

    Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious summer by this News of York;
    And all the clouds that lour’d upon our lack of a Stadium
    In the deep bosom of the Hudson buried.
    Now are our brows bound with defeated Metro-Star Badges;
    Our bruised egos hung up for lack of a NY Kit to call our own;
    Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings with the Mother Club,
    Our dreadful marches on bended knee to beg for delightful Lampard.
    Grim-visaged Renya hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
    And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
    To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
    He capers nimbly in Mansour’s chambers
    To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
    But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
    Nor made to court an amorous looking-MLS;
    I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want Soccer’s majesty
    To strut before a wanton ambling Garber;
    I, that am curtail’d of this fair Ethiad Stadium ,
    Cheated of feature by dissembling NYC Mayor,
    Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time
    Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
    And that so lamely and unfashionable in Citizens Blue
    That dogs **** on me as I halt by them;
    Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
    Have no delight to pass away the time,
    Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
    And descant on mine own deformity:
    And therefore, since I cannot prove a player,
    To entertain these fair well-spoken Borrough Boys,
    I am determined to prove a villain
    And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
    Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
    By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
    To set my brother Yankee and the Sheik
    In deadly hate the one against the other:
    And if King Cuomo be as true and just
    As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
    This day should Yankees closely be mew’d up,
    About a prophecy, which says that ‘Man City’
    Farm Clubs the loser shall be.
    Dive, block, down to my shot: here
    NYCFC comes.

    • Anonymous

      THIS^

  • zensum

    Isn’t there some responsibility on the part of the Leo Glickman to substantiate some of the claims contained in his questions…

    Points 3 / 5 / 6 are fact based and non rhetorical and either correct or incorrect…

    Point 3 – what is the evidence of no Yankee payments (though the 20% deal could be in services and rent free use of the stadium rather than cash)…

    Point 5 – what is the evidence of 5K season tickets rather than 11K+…

    Point 6 – what is the evidence of less than a $100 million franchise fee agreement…

    Shouldn’t Nick Chavez have at least some baseline evidence before being asked to investigate these claims…

    • Anthony M.

      I really don’t understand the hostility. This piece makes great points and praises Raul for being the kind of huge soccer pick-up we knew it would be. Yet despite all of this, certain fans turn to negativity by attacking the writer and making baseless accusations. It’s sports, it’s entertainment. Enjoy what you want to watch.

    • Larry’s A Simpleton

      cmon now zensum. youve been around the internet long enough to know that leo is totally full of **** as well as delusional. you know, the typical f.cosmos fan

  • Yes Zensum, I have found these things out from being a non-journalist who is interested in the future of our sport in the country. I uhhhmmmm, asked around of people who would know. You may not realize this, but sometimes you have to find things out by talking to people, not sitting at your computer clicking on the internet. If you look back at the NYCFC message boards from about 6 months ago, I actually tried to help these dimwits, including nicky chavez, but was roundly attacked. But I was right about everything that was said on there, because I do my homework and don’t talk out of my ass. So go find out, talk to your front office. You will find out that 1) substantially less than $100 million was paid, 2) that the 11,000 number comes from multiple thousands of tickets being given free to sponsors, the Yankees, etc., and 3) the Yankees have no skin in this game in terms of the franchise fee.

    I get it, Nicky Chavez is hoping to get a job with NYCFC, and thinks he can get it by taking cheap shots at competitors and writing ridiculous fluff propaganda about NYCFC. Take from some others who’ve tried, it ain’t gonna happen that way Nicky. I’m older and wiser than you. Believe me.

    • Drm21892

      I will say though that if you really did ALL your fact checking you would also know that Lampard has done interviews in the past year about NYCFC and has apologized about the 9/11 comments. And I’m not sure why you felt the need to bring up all these points when the article was simply praising Raul’s status as a once in a life time legend. I’m all for the bashing of NYCFC but I just think it makes all of us cosmos fans look bad when you make COSMOS articles into bashings of Nick.

  • Tony

    Not to mention Leo was intensely involved With MLS2NYC go the better part of 7 years, so he has a lot more knowledge than these ignorant nycfc guys who blindly point at spot on google maps and yell, “hey, why don’t they build a stadium there!” Many of us have been following this saga since before you were a glimmer in sheikh Monsour’s homophobic eye.

  • heh heh. “a glimmer in sheikh Monsour’s homophobic eye”

    • Anonymous

      It’s the left one, isn’t it?
      I’ve seen photos

  • OpenCupFan

    The Cosmos, the team no one cares about, are now on TV from Philly to Bean town.

    Also, show me where Lampard apologized – but first show me what he apologized for. Have some self respect as New Yorkers, cheering for a guy who laughed at Americans on 9/11 is embarrassing. He can apologize all he wants, no one is saying to execute him, but for him to play in NYC and expect to be cheered by New Yorkers is a spit in the face of those people he laughed at on 9/11. And no, he has still hasn’t apologized – please show us where.

    • drm21892

      Hey I am going to hate on him just as much as any other player from the Manchester farm team, I am just saying he addressed it. Although, I wouldn’t call it an apology per say, he sort of just made an excuse. 4 Minutes in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_to0ILJCQk

      • Classic, this dope tells me to do the fact checking, and then says he didn’t apologize, as I stated “per say” [sic]. How do these people even live with themselves?

        • Lou

          This guy is hilarious. He never apologized, just sort of acknowledged. And while you’re at it, why don’t you just ignore the fact that he did NOTHING about it for 13 years. He didn’t care until the day he was about to sign for a massive payday and had to give some lip service to NYers who were willing to ignore his actions. Then he promptly took a dump on them anyway and asked to stay in England.