BY PATRICK MacDONALD
EoS Staff Writer
The group’s latest incarnation brought in a slew of big name executives to run the club while spending a load of money to do so. Their outlandish antics during the Kemsley era managed to land the team in the opponent’s spot for last years Paul Scholes testimonial match. Now comes word that the Cosmos are looking to build a fancy $400 Million, 25,000 seat stadium in Belmont.
The announcement aroused the usual Cosmos twitter mockery. However, everyone should be very careful; don’t just simply dismiss the New York Cosmos.
Like it or not, the Cosmos are a globally recognized brand. They are the team of Pele, Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto, and Franz Beckenbauer. Sure those days ended decades ago, but few have forgotten the team that managed to pack 40,000+ per game back when soccer barely resonated on the American sports landscape. The Whitecaps, Timbers, and Sounders are all proof of the rabid NASL nostalgia which the Cosmos are very much a part.
Hell, the Cosmos still manage to have fans and a supporters group based on the glory days alone.
This brings up an interesting question; do the Cosmos even need MLS? Has the sport grown so much that an upstart team can finance and build its own stadium, succeeding without the financial constraints of MLS? The NASL has no salary cap, allowing the Cosmos to bring in any talent they so choose. With lines between television and the internet blurring, what’s to keep the Cosmos from streaming their games online, building their global brand, and selling jerseys to kids in Barcelona much like the Messi jerseys worn here in the States? The Cosmos could become the Celtic FC of the NASL where the lack of competition in the SPL hasn’t hurt the marketing machine one bit.
If MLS simply dismisses the Cosmos and their ambitions, they are creating a potential albatross next door. If the Cosmos can pull off their financial gamble – showing the U.S. is ready to support a team without a salary cap – it could truly upset the American soccer order that MLS thus far has a stranglehold on. The Cosmos will attract talent without the silly MLS restraints on free agency that punishes teams willing to invest and rewards teams like the Rapids and Revolution who seem to have no interest in spending a dime.
With that talent pipeline and potential success for a second division team, the conversation would almost certainly have to veer towards promotion/relegation, forever damaging the current MLS monopoly on U.S. Soccer power.
The Cosmos plan is most definitely ambitious, and ambition has no guarantee of success, but unlike the initial Cosmos revival that more closely resembled Entertainment 720, the new owners seem to have a better and clearer plan. For starters, they actually plan on fielding a team to compete in a professional soccer league.
If that team starts racking up wins and the marketing machine starts picking up steam, MLS simply may not be able to afford to leave the New York Cosmos out of the MLS fold.