by JAKE NUTTING
The New York Cosmos made it official on Friday, signing trialists Eugene Starikov and Kalif Alhassan. The two midfielders agreed to deals ahead of the start of the North American Soccer League season next weekend. The Cosmos open the Spring Season at Puerto Rico.
Starikov, 28, impressed during the Cosmos’ recent preseason trip to the Dominican Republic. He scored two goals, had two assists and contributed to another goal by drawing a penalty in the trip’s final match.
“I have really enjoyed the preseason with the team and feel very comfortable with the group,” Starikov said. “Signing for such an iconic club it’s an honor and I look forward to having a successful season and to helping the team in any way I can.”
Most recently Starikov played in the Ukraine’s Premier League with his hometown team Chornomorets Odesa, where he recorded two goals in 10 appearances. Before his brief stint in Ukraine, Starikov was under contract for Zenit St. Petersburg for five years, and also played on loan with Tom Tomsk and Rostov.
Despite his Ukrainian roots, Starikov elected to represent the United States after moving stateside as a child. He made three appearances for the U.S. U-23 squad and was called into a training camp for the senior team in 2011.
“Eugene is a great addition to the overall squad,” Cosmos Coach Giovanni Savarese said. “He is a young and talented player who can give the team a different look in attack.”
Alhassan, 26, is an NASL veteran.The Ghanaian international spent last season with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and was with Minnesota United in 2015. After producing four goals and six assists for Minnesota, Alhassan’s output dipped with the Rowdies as he fell down the depth chart.
“Kalif is a dynamic player who will help us be more competitive,” Savarese said. “He will add depth to our squad, as we look forward to preparing our 2017 season.”
The Cosmos will conclude their preseason on Sunday with a match against the Bermuda national team.