The New York Cosmos are back, at least in conception. Some English guys bought the naming rights. Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia readily accepted sinecures. The brain trust includes David Beckham’s best friend Terry Byrne as vice-Chairman, Eric Cantona (scorer of this goal) as director of soccer and token American Cobi Jones as associate director. The Cosmos bought two youth academies. They hope to rekindle the magic that captured the nation, if “the nation” consists of men from the greater NYC area who grew up to work in the sports media.
There are a few practical issues for the Cosmos to work out. They don’t have a team. They don’t have players. They don’t even have a league willing to accept their beneficent offering of awesomeness. They presumably will be favorites to debut as the 20th MLS franchise in 2013, because MLS wants that club based in New York. Though, the Cosmos could face fierce competition from the Wilpons for that bid. How does one pass up the opportunity to get into business with as soundly stewarded a franchise as the New York Mets?
Recreating the Cosmos in MLS would be fantastic for nostalgia, but, ultimately, there must be a compelling product on the field. Though spectacular, the Cosmos were all flash and no substance. They weren’t a unique success. They were a glimmering emblem for exactly why NASL failed.
MLS’ mission should be to become what NASL was not, a stable league that produces and keeps world-class American players. For all of the Cosmos pledges to build from the ground up, hiring a man who inadvertently fomented a revolution and whose only managerial experience is with the French Beach Soccer Team for his celebrity smacks of recreating the past. A Cosmos return may evoke fond memories, but it should not breed confidence.
[Photo via Getty]