Empire XI: On New York Soccer and the Big Questions for 2015


4. Can Tim Cahill Pick Up the Torch?

Thierry Henry is enjoying life in retirement and now the Red Bulls need a new lynchpin in the attack. Tim Cahill is both still around and not a favorite of Head Coach Mike Petke’s. Life may be different now under Marsch.  The problem with Cahill is that he has one skillset as a second striker. Henry could fill many roles because of his playmaking ability allowing Petke to build the attack around Henry and maximize what else he had. Cahill does not afford that chance because Cahill is a scorer.

Cahill will get a shot either in central midfield or playing off of Bradley Wright-Phillips next season, but unless he develops into a halfway decent playmaker, Cahill will quickly become expendable if he fails to score goals. If that happens, Cahill will be resigned to coming off the bench as playmaking options such as Peguy Luyindula get selected ahead of him.

The last thing the Red Bulls want in 2015 is an unproductive, 35-year-old attacking player on the last year of his contract.

Raul New York Cosmos

5. Is Raul just a name?

Speaking of old players who are potentially unproductive, Raul joins the New York Cosmos with plenty of buzz but little certainty. He will turn 38 in July and, while the light and split NASL schedule should keep him from tiring as the year goes on, turf will play its destructive role. Marcos Senna can attest to that. In Raul’s case, his on-field production will only legitimize or delegitimize part of his acquisition. He can score a goal a game until he retires and still be a failure or never score a goal and be a success for the Cosmos because of his off the field role with the club.

Yes, Raul has an impressive pedigree but he also has a reputation that needs to be upheld. The Cosmos and their fans have a right to feel buoyed by Raul’s decision to spurn an off field role with Real Madrid but it is not like he burned bridges at the Bernabéu just to join the Cosmos.

So why join the Cosmos in the first place? Because Raul needs experience in the technical director field at a place much more secure than Real Madrid. Club legends move to the front office all the time. Most gleefully take the ambassador role for the minimal work and maximum reward, some are more ambitious. However, the list of players to have tried coaching or directing at their favorite clubs and failed grows more endless as you look at bigger and bigger clubs. A rich, blank slate like the Cosmos affords Raul the chance to develop himself into a technical director and return to Real Madrid with a portfolio of off-field success to match the one that exists with his on field success as well.

6. How are the Cosmos going to sustain themselves?

The Cosmos are going to spend their way towards relevance. A climate as fluid as the one that exists in American soccer nowadays means that the price tag on relevance remains largely unknown. The Cosmos need to find a way to have the national soccer audience interested in their day-to-day proceedings, not their rhetoric. The more people interested in viewing and analyzing the performances of their players as opposed to the sayings by their front office, the better. Since the NASL is barely a blip on the American sporting landscape, that task is almost impossible for the Cosmos to achieve on their own.

The Cosmos have the money to lobby for and build a stadium and overpay for aging players from Europe and South America, but at some point there needs to be substantial and stable sources of revenue for the club. Given the irrelevance of the NASL and its desire to continue to expand before pursuing a national television deal, all mass media-related sources of revenue are minimal. The deal Emirates is paying only increases if more people see “Fly Emirates” on green jerseys and with the only national audience coming by way of ESPN 3, that simply is not happening.

The Cosmos are buyers so they are not in the immediate business of producing talent that can be sold to the highest bidder. The Raul-led academy might change that but that money will not come overnight. Lastly, attendance needs to stabilize and grow for the Cosmos to have any idea on how to tailor their plans for the future.

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  • Anthony

    Christian, you should be banned from ever even talking about the #NYCosmos. Every time you try to write anything about them you do so from such a ridiculously condescending standpoint that no one can even take you seriously. You are a NYCFC apologist and gloss over the very real drawbacks of that club, the insulting way they and MLS have treated this farm team franchise…i can think of about 30 local soccer writers and bloggers than are more qualified to write this article than you..you a a fucking hack of the highest order. Why Dave even allows you to get space on his page is a mystery.

  • Dave from Dix Hills

    Hey I missed the XI! Good stuff but should have added an ALI WATCH point. Red Bulls committing suicide should be a top headline.

  • Jim F

    Agree, Ali Curtis is shooting the Red Bulls in their own foot, or head – suicide.
    Getting rid of Mike Petke (our #1 connection to the club and most successful coach) is disgraceful!

    Maybe Ali is doubleagent working to make NYCFC and Cosmos look better relative to him – he is doing a fine job of it!


    What new message do the Cosmos need to send ? I don’t get it. Ship has been sailing along pretty well. Only setback would be the SSS wait. If anything they’re the most stable of all the NY area soccer teams.

  • Lou

    “The second play is to capitalize on the frustrations of Red Bull and NYCFC fans.”

    At what point have the Cosmos demonstrated this as a “clear play”? City and Bull fans have voiced their displeasure and some have said they’ll go watch the Cosmos instead. Cosmos supporters have had their laugh at the misfortunes of those two. The FO have sniped at MLS as an institution, but not made a play for these fans. Look at their communications, ticket offers. Nothing indicates this.

    Araos at it again.

    • Smith

      The Cosmos need not worry about Man City Lite or Ali’s Army. They will play well & without ridiculous weeknight games on the schedule, they will draw better crowds to see Raul & the rest.

      I will say this, though:

      I know several Red Bulls fans who are buying Cosmos tix in protest of Arrogant Ali.

  • Not a farm club?

    Give me a f****** break… NYCFC is a minor consideration and will be for the foreseeable future. There may be valid economic reasons for it… I say “valid” but I really mean in THIS unacceptable situation.

    We shouldn’t be in the business of allowing clubs to be in a situation where their baby is given priority and we are second.

  • Larry The Turd

    And with all the screw ups made by Man Lite and the Red Bulls the Cosmos still can’t make a dent in the sports conscience of NYC. LMFFAO. You clowns are still going to struggle to get more than a couple thousand fans out to Shuart. Raul? Really? What’s he going to do, raise the attendance from 2,000 to 2,025? Nobody is going out to Hofstra to see the Cosmos, you think they’re going to beat a path to that mythical world famous Cosmos Academy? Dream on saps! New York is red ladies!

    • Smith

      Yes, Ali Curtis is here. All is wonderful. God bless all he stands for.

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