Cosmos hope to win Soccer Bowl for Raul, Senna



UNIONDALE, N.Y. – When Pele decided to hang up the boots on his historic career, the New York Cosmos players and staff rallied around the world superstar, hoping to send off the Brazilian great with a championship.

Today, the modern-era Cosmos are on a similar mission.

The Cosmos face Fort Lauderdale in a one-off Championship encounter, with the winner going on to the league final with their eyes on the Soccer Bowl. While that may be reason enough to find inspiration, the Cosmos players and staff have another driving source; ending the careers of both Marcos Senna and Raul with one last trophy celebration.

“That is a part of what we have all committed to,” head coach Giovanni Savarese said after Wednesday’s practice session. “We are making sure we commit to working extra hard. Yes, we already do so for the club, but I think these two players deserve for us to give whatever extra we can find because they deserve to finish their careers as champions as they have been their entire lives. It is an extra motivation.”

“When you build relationships, friendships that will last a lifetime, and you play with guys like Marcos and Raul, two special players that have had some of the best careers in the game, you want to end on a high note,” team captain Carlos Mendes added. “Guys are excited to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs and win a championship with two legends of the game. That is all part of it.

“This whole season, we have grown as a group. Hopefully we finish strong but this is extra motivation with Marcos and Raul retired at the end of this year.”

Senna was the first true “world class” player to sign with the fledgling Cosmos organization. Since 2013, he has played a pivotal role in helping the club secure a Fall, Spring and Soccer Bowl championship. Likewise, Raul has come to the club with a yeoman’s mentality, appearing in all but two matches all year long while playing a critical role in the offensive end of the team’s tactical alignment.

Both players come with extensive resumes. However, it is their work as team leaders and ambassadors that will be inspiring the club towards an NASL Championship — not their history in Spain.

Playing for Pele drove the original Cosmos towards the 1977 Soccer Bowl championship. Will history repeat itself?

Today’s Cosmos hope so.

“We have to be playing 110% for them,” Roversio said. “They deserve it for everything they have done. Finishing their careers with a title and us helping them to that goal? We would be very proud of getting that done.”