I grew up knowing the New York Cosmos as a thing of the past. The club that brought Pelé and many other world stars to America to help popularize the sport back in the 1970s & 1980s were somewhat a mythical phenomenon for me. If you weren’t around during the club’s heyday, I do think it’s very difficult to understand the magnitude and scope of the NY Cosmos’ influence. I grew up with my father telling me stories of going to a packed Giants Stadium with 70,000+ fans to watch the super team that was the Cosmos. He’s always been jubilant at the fact that he was in attendance at the game when Giorgio Chinaglia scored seven goals.
So when the announcement in 2010 came that the New York Cosmos would be revived, both my father and I were ecstatic of what the future held. In fact, in the summer of 2011 I joined BW Gottschee’s pre-academy team, which had some type of partnership with the Cosmos brand. For that first season we received Cosmos gear, which I still have. We wore the green and white Cosmos jerseys produced by Umbro. Every match I took pride in wearing that jersey because I knew what the Cosmos name and legacy meant and being a small tiny part of that was pretty cool for a 14-year-old kid. Unfortunately after that season, the Gottschee-Cosmos partnership was diminished and the Cosmos gear was gone, although I still have my jerseys.
In July of 2012, the famed club announced they would begin playing in the North American Soccer League (NASL), the second division of American soccer. While I was somewhat disappointed the club would not be joining Major League Soccer, I was still pretty happy the Cosmos would be back on the soccer field. The reported $100 million expansion fee that MLS wanted from the Cosmos at the time did seem quite steep. Nonetheless, it was exciting times for old and new Cosmos supporters.
With the Cosmos setting up shop at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium, I would only be a 10-15 minute drive away to go watch them play. Now admittedly, this is where I have some regrets. I did not attend their opening reboot match or ever ask my father to buy us season tickets. I suppose we were often busy and probably just wouldn’t be able to make every game to buy season tickets but still I feel I didn’t attend enough games considering how much I cared about the club. Don’t get me wrong I have attended a solid handful of matches but I do feel I could’ve and should’ve attended more. The most memorable games I attended were the Open Cup matches against the NY Red Bulls and NYCFC at Shuart Stadium. Not only were the results on our side but you could feel the importance of these matches and how they were different then the NASL league matches.
When my father and one of his colleagues decided to put on a big conference of the world’s beautiful game at Hofstra University he worked quite closely with the NY Cosmos, including club COO Erik Stover. They scheduled the conference around the Cosmos home opener of 2014 NASL season and even awarded an honorary degree to the great Pelé to attend. The club was cooperative and helped make it a great weekend.
A great 2015 season saw another Soccer Bowl trophy and the retirements of both Marcos Senna and Raùl. This was certainly one of the high points of the clubs reboot: winning a trophy and sending off two legends of the game off on a glorious note. Then in the spring of 2016, I applied to be a communications intern at the club. After sending in my application and a phone interview, I was elated that I would spend the summer working at the club. And it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. From working with my boss, meeting people in the front office, to working at home matches, I enjoyed every bit of it. I felt honored to be able to write match previews and feature pieces on the club's website. I was more than happy to contribute in any way I could to help benefit the club. Splitting time between the Garden City and Manhattan offices was pleasing and everyone I met within the organization was more than welcoming. As I was walking up to the door for my first day at the office in Manhattan, I bumped into one of my old soccer coaches and was delighted to find out he was actually working at the club. It was great to catch up and joke around with him throughout the summer. I also remember being at the Manhattan office one afternoon when Head Coach and Sporting Director Giovanni Savarese came into the office and went around to say to everyone and even gave me a handshake and asked how I was doing. That’s what the atmosphere is like at the club and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
There were also some great moments working the games. From riding the elevator at Shuart with Shep Messing and JP Dellacamera to being asked if I was Sebastian Guenzatti's brother. I remember my first match was the classic rivalry against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Not only was a comeback victory great but also after the game I actually bumped into Alessandro Nesta at BurgerFi. What a way to get things started!
After a couple more games under my belt, I began to memorize the 5 Points chants, which they sing relentlessly for 90 minutes. When I was behind the net trying to get quality footage of the action I would sing along when I could. Then came the U.S. Open Cup match against NYCFC at Fordham’s Coffey Field. Being the away team, I wouldn’t be working but of course I would be attending. I went into the Manhattan office in the morning and then took the subway out to the Bronx in the afternoon. I watched the game with my father and my old soccer coach mentioned earlier. It was a pretty back-and-forth affair with each side having their fair share of chances. Then late on in the 88th minute after a beautiful build-up play from the back, a cross from Yohandry Orozco found Danny Szetela who headed the ball home. Once the ball hit the net, I ran over to the section where the 5 Points were and embraced my cousin who was there. I’ll always remember my emotions during that moment, pure elation. We were singing, dancing, jumping up and down well past the final whistle.
The club would host the New England Revolution in the third round of the Open Cup on June 29th. Believing this would finally be the year the Cosmos get past this stage of the competition I eagerly awaited this match for over a month. The match was certainly worth the wait, a thrilling match that we unfortunately were on the wrong side of despite having a lead in the second half. From that heartbreaking loss two things stood to me which both came after the final whistle. In the 5 Points section I saw a young boy probably around 10-years-old start tearing up, showing how much he cares about this club. And on a lighter note, the 5 Points gave a salute and cheer to goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, who has arguably at fault for one of the Revs’ goal due to a very poor clearance. Nonetheless, the Cosmos faithful expressed their gratitude and solidarity to the goalkeeper who has been so good for the club over the years. Thankfully I caught that on video.
While it now seems like the New York Cosmos are at a crossroads with an uncertain future, the Cosmos will always have a special place in my heart. Along with many fellow fans, I am waiting for substantial developments, not just rumors and hoping for the best. Hopefully this isn’t the end (for the second time for some people) but just another rough patch along the way. I know the situation is looking bleak but no matter what happens I’ll be forever grateful for what the Cosmos reboot has brought. Thank you to both everyone I met at the club and the club itself and here’s hoping to a brighter future for all of Cosmos Country.