Erik Stover’s Reddit AMA: On Belmont, Signing Kranjčar, More

IMAGE, DAVE MARTINEZ FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by JAKE NUTTING

As the New York Cosmos continue their preseason preparations in Florida this week, club COO Erik Stover took to reddit Thursday afternoon to hold an Ask Me Anything session on the NASL subreddit.

He addressed a few intriguing issues. EoS has summarized some highlight below. You can also read the entire thread here.

Belmont Decision

Of course, the one guaranteed question that was bound to be brought up is the issue of what is currently happening with the Cosmos bid to build a stadium at the Belmont Park site.

The Cosmos are as anxious to hear a decision — one way or the other — as all of their supporters

“The rumors are flying like crazy now. The one thing we know is that the ESD has told us they are making a decision. Hopefully that goes in our favor, and they make the decision soon. The waiting has undoubtedly hurt our growth potential, but we believe that is by far the best site and is most likely to help us accomplish all of our goals.”

Stover also stuck to the refrain that the club has several back up stadium sites in mind should the bid fall through, but his optimism on Belmont has increased recently.

“We have 3-4 sites with potential, but they all require significant investment and feasibility studies. Because the Belmont RFP has been reactivated over the last four months, we have been solely focused on that location. I’m as optimistic on Belmont as I have been in three years.”

Roster Building Nearly Done

With the start of the NASL Spring Season a few weeks away, Stover doesn’t envision the team adding many more bodies to a roster that he seems to be very bullish about.

“I think this is the best roster that we’ve had over the past four seasons. We’ve gotten better at almost every position. Right now, there’s not a glaring need. But you never know what opportunity might present itself.”

Stover threw cold water on the rumor that the Cosmos are connected to the recently released Herculez Gomez, but left the door open for training guest and Croatian international Niko Kranjčar to officially sign with the club sooner rather than later.

“Niko is a great player and a wonderful person. The roster situation at the moment makes it difficult, but we haven’t ruled it out completely. We expect that to be resolved – one way or the other – in the next few days.”

A possible road block to the Cosmos securing Kranjčar to a deal is the fact that the club is currently maxed out on its seven international roster spots. A remedy to that situation could be on its way, though, in the form of a green card.

“Currently we’re at the maximum international roster spots. One player has applied for a green card, and we are in the middle of that process. The timing of that is uncertain.”

Shift in Philospohy

Following the retirement of Raul and Marcos Senna, this year is shaping up to be the first season in which the Cosmos do not field a superstar, and that fact hasn’t gone unnoticed. Stover was asked if the club adding more low-key quality players over splashy signings this offseason was a deliberate choice.

“I would agree that the strategy has changed slightly, but only that the B-Team has given us greater flexibility in signing younger players. We’ve been very successful with that over the past two seasons. There are only so many Raúls in the world, and it was a huge opportunity for us to have him on the team last year. Juan Arango is certainly an international star, albeit one that has played for smaller clubs.”

Cosmos B Effect

Elaborating on the impact of the clubs Cosmos B, Stover made special note of the great example set by Ruben Bover and also the doors the reserve squad has opened for the club in the youth market.

“It brings so much. We were able to sign Ruben Bover and help him rehab from an injury, then he played into a first team position. Without Cosmos B we may not have been able to take that chance. On a youth level, we can sign guys like Haji Wright, Alexis Velela and Eric Calvillo knowing they will get minutes, at least with the B Team, and continue their development at such a critical age. For players injured on the first team, it’s a way to play their ways back without having to jump right into the first team. And guys on the roster 19-24 can get consistent minutes throughout the summer.”

Academy Updates

According to Stover, the club hopes to make a decision on a academy director “very shortly” and is currently in the process of staffing coaches for the U-12, U-13 and U-14 squads as well. The applications for the U-13 and U-13 teams are still pending with U.S. Soccer.

Under Armour

Ahead of the new Under Armour kit event next week, Cosmos supporters should be happy to hear that the new deal should lead to easier access to merchandise in the local market. The apparel company is hoping to beef up its presence in American soccer, with the Cosmos acting as the first domino.

“We expect greater distribution of Cosmos gear, including a presence in Under Armour stores in New York. Under Armour is aggressively moving into soccer, in the U.S. and abroad. To have a partner committed to helping us will be great moving forward,” said the COO. “It’s a bit of a scramble trying to get things ready for the start of the season, but over the length of the contract we expect things to improve dramatically.”

  • Green sauce

    He needs to know something about the stadium and this guy sounds like he likes to irritate garber with everything he says.
    Can they make the casino and stadium in one, plus hotel and stores, kinda like a Vegas building.
    I also gotta wonder, did cosmos write in, in the negotiations that another soccer team would be using the stadium, like nycfc.
    Would garber let nycfc play at cosmos stadium?
    Would cosmos like a casino inside the stadium?
    Is nycfc and cosmos targeting land that both like?
    Did stover get under armour before MLS on purpose?
    I actually saw MLS with under armour but not any more,given that garber hates anything about cosmos.

    • MTF

      I doubt Stover knows anything about the Belmont bid and also don’t think he’s trying to irritate Garber. The Cosmos are his employer so he’s trying to spin things positively while their future is riding on their building a stadium. Why do people think Garber is so fixated on the Cosmos? Do you think Garber views the Cosmos as any sort of threat? The Cosmos and MLS couldn’t work things out, Garber went ahead with NYCFC, and one team is averaging 7x the attendance of the other (hint: it’s not the Cosmos).

      • The Don

        You tell him, my son. I am the Lord they Don. It is right to give me thanks and praise. Now repeat after me, ” I believe I’m one Fom, the Garber the Almighty, maker of field turf and dirt , off all that is seen and unseen”

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  • Not Davor Suker

    If they do sign Kranjcar, it’s a very good signing that can morph into a an absolute home run if he has his head on straight. A good marketing move as well, the Croat community is fairly large in the Queens/Long Island area and would bet they come out to see the lad.

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  • Larry\’s A Simpleton

    where is the link for the go fund me page stover set up for the f.cosmos?

    #STOVERPASSESBADCHECKS

    • Larry\’s Momma

      Larry,
      Please get a job soon. I can’t continue to support you into your 40’s

      • Larry\’s Larry\’s Daddy

        Son,
        Stop playing with yourself and get out of our basement.
        NYCFC is not hiring any ballboys, please look for another job soon.

    • Larry\’s A Simpleton

      here it is! http://www.gofundme.com

      come on all you fanboys! get this going so the f.cosmos can pay the bills and not stiff youth leagues, venezualan teams and Raul “Take da money and run” Blanco out of the money they owe

      #HEYSTOVERwww.gofundme.com

      • Larry\’s Daddy

        Larry,
        Why are you on go fund me again??
        We bought several nice dresses for you last month!!
        You know people have caught on to your gimmicks, please save your mother and I all the grief you have caused us and move out of our basement once and for all…..and PLEASE leave our sheep and goats alone.

      • What Larry Really Means

        I don’t really understand how either the transfer market works or how the game is played in other countries. I only watch MLS which I only became interested in laSt year. I really don’t understand the game or the business of it as evidenced by my by frequent incorrect and ignorant comments.

        Thank you.