NASL Expansion Update: New York Cosmos

A look into what the NY Cosmos have done as they gear up for their professional return to the pitch
by Daniel Casey   |   Friday, February 22, 2013

The Minors - column on North America's lower division soccer leagues (NASL, USL PRO, CSL, NPSL, PCSL & USL PDL)

The New York Cosmos have been on a nearly 4-year PR campaign to re-establish the New York Cosmos brand. It has certainly been successful, yet the ‘team’ has yet to play or, for that matter, actually be formed.

It’s not quibbling to demand that the Cosmos organization spend less time selling retro T-shirts, holding press conferences with high profile soccer personalities and rolling out hypothetical stadium plans.

Yet it is unfair to say that the route the Cosmos are taking is the wrong one. If you stop and think about it, this team has been taking its time building itself up so that it lasts longer than its first incarnation. Come Aug. 3, the redux Cosmos will begin their season in the redux NASL at James M. Shuart Stadium on Hofstra University.

Over the past few months, New York has rolled out a steady current of names. And while none of the signings so far have been earth-shattering, each has definitely shown that manager Giovanni Savarese and his assistants – Carlos Llamosa, Alecko Eskandarian and Memo Valencia – know what they’re doing. Journeymen are the dominate trait of this first wave of Cosmos signings, perhaps best epitomized by the team's first signing, Carlos Mendes.

The 32-year-old centerback has made his career in the great state of New York, first with the Long Island Rough Riders (PDL), then Rochester Rhinos (USL), and his most relevant tenure was with the New York Red Bulls where he played from 2005 to 2011.

Mendes will likely be the anchor on the team, but he’s not the only signing with a firm MLS pedigree. Kyle Reynish, longtime understudy to Real Salt Lake’s perennial All-Star ‘keeper Nick Rimando, will make his claim for being the No. 1 for the Cosmos. New York also made some waves when it signed rightback Hunter Freeman after he passed through this year’s Re-Entry Draft and then couldn’t come to an agreement with the New England Revolution. Paying a MLS level salary ups the ante for the NASL.

Of the nine signings so far the average age is 26, which is an interesting stat suggesting the Cosmos are looking to find that elusive balance between experience and youth. With experience comes not just the above-mentioned former MLS-ers, but center midfielder Dane Murphy (26), promising left winger and La Liga product Ayoze Garcia Perez “Ayoze” (27) and forward Stefan Dimitrov (28).

On the youth side of things, New York has brought into the fold rightback Korey Veeder (21) and forwards Peri Marosevic (23) and Henry Lopez (20). While we can certainly expect the Cosmos to announce future signings as the coaching staff continue to prep for the second half of the NASL season, it wouldn’t hurt to speculate a bit about who those signings might be.

The organization had a U-23 team that played briefly in the fourth tier of the American soccer pyramid, the USL-PDL, and has spent a good amount of time creating a local youth academy and a West Coast one. While many of us may have only seen the hype, the Cosmos have been laying groundwork, putting down deep foundations in the community.

It was from these youth teams that the Cosmos drew on for the Paul Scholes testimonial match in 2011 in Manchester, England. Already two players from this team have been signed for the team (Murphy and Dimitrov), but there are some other players that we might expect to show up on the building roster. From the testimonial squad are 20-somethings Armando Gaitan, Marvin Iraheta and Ibrahim Diaby, who are each superb midfield prospects and would definitely blossom if they could see regular minutes at the NASL level.

Over the next few weeks New York will be able to audition players in their own combine and see who becomes available as other NASL teams begin to solidify their rosters. Already some interesting names are popping up like midfielder James Marcelin, who saw time last season with FC Dallas and Portland Timbers.

Also, as the 2013 MLS season draws ever closer, there will be a slew of players that for one reason or another were not offered a contract with the teams that they had been drafted by or had been trialing with. Thus, a whole store of players will be eager and able to play for the newest (and arguably) only New York City soccer team.

Daniel CASEY

Nationality:
USA
College:
Carthage College Univ. of Notre Dame
Club Domestic:
Chicago Fire & Minnesota Stars
Club Foreign:
Manchester United
Founder/editor of the literary magazine Gently Read Literature, active but barely read poet and literary critic, and an occasional English professor. Never got to play soccer until his mid-30s, so he is routinely schooled by U10 crowd at pick-up games.
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