They finally got it right; NY Cosmos to join NASL

They’re back!

In case you missed today’s news, Cosmos 2.0 and NASL 2.0 announced a reunion of nostalgic proportions.

“We are extremely proud to welcome the New York Cosmos to the North American Soccer League,” said NASL Commissioner David Downs. “As we continue to expand the league and help grow professional soccer in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, the Cosmos brand and their strong ownership group are a perfect fit with us.

“The history of the Cosmos and soccer in the New York City area are intertwined,” he continued. “Bringing the Cosmos into the NASL is a logical next step as we embrace the heritage of our own past and now reunite the Cosmos, Strikers, Rowdies and several markets with ties to the NASL’s early days. Most importantly, we look forward to the Cosmos enhancing the quality of our league both on and off the field.”

Nearly two years after Paul Kemsley paid Pepe Pinton’s ransom, allowing him to pimp out one of the richest brands in soccer history, things are finally beginning to fall into focus for the Cosmos. Saudi based Sela Sport bought out the real estate mogul, clamped down on the theatrics, removed the Cosmos name from the glare of international media (and even local media for that matter) and have quietly begun the process of *GASP* building a proper professional soccer team.

Go figure.

This no-brainer decision finally puts the New York Cosmos in serious standing when discussing the endless NY2 debate. How can a move to the second tier of the American soccer pyramid do this? Just ask second-tier alumni Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers, who relied every bit as much on history and nostalgia as they did on money and investment when selling themselves to Major League Soccer.

Recent news regarding MLS’s goal to build a stadium in Flushing Meadow Park has furthered the reality of a second New York franchise. The Cosmos name remains as coveted a brand by MLS as it ever was in the mid 90’s. The move towards NASL in 2013, which club chairman Seamus O’Brien labels the “first step” towards reaching “the very highest level” of American soccer, makes the team an immediate and viable suitor for this wildly ambitious endeavour.

This is perhaps the best news to come out of the Cosmos camp since the new ownership group settled a near-lawsuit with their youth academy affiliates. As a matter of fact, it may be the only news that has been released from the Saudi owners since then

Sela was left with a circus, no question about it, but it wasn’t always about tight rope walking and lion taming during the Kemsley days. The former ownership group did (barely) manage to acquire and put a stamp on a successful youth academy program (BW Gottschee), and created a grassroots New York connection with the highly successful “Cosmos Copa.” Their many (costly) marketing campaigns, from major ad space in Times Square to the shambles that was the Paul Scholes Testimonial, revived recognition to a once adored franchise (no such thing as bad publicity as they say!).

In a round about way, however misguided they were, the Kemsley Cosmos did leave essential building blocks amongst the rubble that are vital for any aspiring MLS side to wield.

With this move towards the NASL, a serious infrastructure can be applied around a brand that desperately wants to be considered a viable contender for the New York expansion spot (and it also helps that MLS is equally enamored with the Cosmos as well). Sure, there will be many more hoops to jump through from now until the time any sort of kick-off commences (what would the Cosmos be without the circus, right?); Money (particularly the current $100 million dollar league buy-in) is an obvious concern. Sustainability there after is a must. A stronger infrastructure is vital. Most of all, a capable ownership group must be ready to prove itself up to the task of leading this unique project.

Still, with all that said, today’s announcement is a positive step in the right direction and puts this group at the forefront of the NY2 discussion once more.

Twice in a Lifetime? Maybe.