A couple of news items today about the past and future of soccer in North America. First the bad news...or is it good news? We all saw the hype and more about the so called revival of The New York Cosmos, who made news in the 1970's by bringing stars such as Pele, Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and more to The Big Apple.
It was a fantastic time and I enjoyed watching the stars perform all over the USA and even saw them play exhibition matches in Sydney, Australia and Namur, Belgium. IT WAS NOT TO LAST. The N.A.S.L. (often called the non-American Soccer League by its detractors) collapsed in the early 1980's along with The Cosmos. On August 28th 1977 I was at the Civic Stadium in Portland, Oregon when the Cosmos beat Seattle Sounders 2-1 to lift the NASL SOCCER BOWL in front of 35,000. The winner was a header from Giorgio Chinaglia. In the locker room afterwards Pele gave me his green stockings--they were different shades of green!!
A couple of years ago the name was bought by a couple of misguided British businessmen who hired Pele as honorary President and Eric Cantona as Technical Director to begin a programme that would see the name become New York's second MLS franchise after The New York Red Bulls. We saw full page ads for Cosmos uniforms www.umbro.com and memorabilia but it was a laughing stock. I called an old friend in New York a few days ago, distinguished journalist Paul Gardner. He had no idea who, if anybody, was now in charge and even if they had an office or employees anymore. www.nycosmos.com/news. Recently owner/Chairman/CEO Paul Kemsley stepped down to seek new challenges !!
Terry Byrne, a Londoner who is David Beckham's personal manager had taken over as GM, and his reign was as disasterous as was his meddling in the misfortunes of the LA Galaxy a few years ago. A one time taxi driver who got hired as a masseur at Chelsea FC under Ian Porterfield and then Glenn Hoddle and Ruud Gullit and more, was instrumental in bringing Beckham from Real Madrid to California.
Tim Leiweke and Anchlusz Entertainment who own the Galaxy, the Kings and part of the Lakers mde a stupid mistake in putting Byrne on their payroll, a conflict of interest. He persuaded them to take the captaincy from Landon Donovan and give it to Becks, and then hire Gullit as coach. The Dutchman is lazy, thick and disorganized wherever he goes. Watch him on TV and he doesn't do his homework before analysis.
As a player though, HE WAS BRILLIANT. I was in Oympiastadion in Munich in 1988 to see him score the first goal for Holland in a 2-0 victory over USSR in The European Championship Final. As team captain he became the first Dutchman to lift a major trophy for his country.
Anyway the Galaxy eventually 'took back THEIR club', fired Gullit, hired Bruce Arena and won the MLS CUP in 2011.
LAST NIGHT IN TORONTO, Canada in the first leg of a CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE match they came from behind to tie Toronto FC 2-2 to set up the second leg in Southern California next week at The Home Depot. What was special was the attendance of 47,600 at the Rogers Center on artificial turf indoors. Home to both the baseball Blue-Jays and football Argenauts. It has a retractable roof and will be the centrepiece of the 2015 Pan-Am Games. The Canadians had played half the pre-season contests that their opponents had but went 2-0 ahead in front of their biggest ever crowd.
In the last minute David Beckham was yet again pelted with paper and a beer can, but his kick finished up in the back of the net, converted by Donovan. The winners meet either Seattle Sounders or Santos Laguna in the quarter-finals. www.concacaf.com
In the 2013 season MLS Commissioner Don Garber has announced that there would be a 20th franchise. At a recent meeting to discuss rival potential New York area bids The COSMOS was not even represented!! Are they history again?