What’s in a name?
Well, if the name happens to be “New York Cosmos,” what’s in it for me is 23 years of fandom spread out over nearly half a century.
There were the Cosmos of the original North American Soccer League (1970-85), the Cosmos of the “new” NASL (2013-17), the National Premier Soccer League Cosmos (2018-19) and coming in August, the NPSL Members Cup Cosmos.
“We’re very excited to launch the Members Cup,” Cosmos Senior Vice President Joe Barone said. “It’s an important step to developing a full season, independent league where the New York Cosmos can grow and thrive.”
Yeah, about that … where we go from there, nobody knows.
What I do know is that wherever they go I’ll go with them, because I’m committed.
Now before I go further let me say that, yes, I’m acutely aware that the Cosmos of 2019 and the Cosmos of 1970 have little more than a name and badge in common. A club that spent the last two years playing short season adult amateur soccer doesn’t have much of a hereditary link to the one that used to draw 70,000 fans to Giants Stadium.
If a new basketball league came along, put a team in Seattle and named them the SuperSonics (which they couldn’t because they’d get sued by the NBA, but ignore that for a second because I’m trying to make a point here), that team would have no real ties to the Sonics of 1967-2008.
But guess what?
I don’t care.
I’m a sports fan, and sports fans don’t have to be logical.
I worshipped the original team, and after the brand went dormant for nearly 20 years and was reborn in the “NASL of a Lesser Soccer God,” I didn’t quibble with details.
As far as I was concerned, the Cosmos were back.
At no point did I expect the new Cosmos to sign Messi and Ronaldo or rival the Yankees or Mets for the attention of sports fans in the Big Apple. Still, the Boys In Green were not only one of the reasons I fell in love with the Beautiful Game, but why I stayed in loved with it.
Plus, I kinda liked the rebooted NASL, thinking that perhaps one day it might give Major League Soccer some headaches.
Instead it’s now in legal purgatory, and I’m starting to believe there’s no way in hell it’ll ever come back.
That’s what led the Cosmos to the NPSL. And just days after playing Miami FC for the league title on Saturday they’ll join Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC, Michigan Stars FC, Milwaukee Torrent, and Napa Valley 1839 FC in what was previously known as the Founders Cup – and much larger.
“We are expecting a high level of competition in the Members Cup, and we are so thankful for (owner) Rocco Commisso’s commitment to the club and this new exciting league,” New York Coach Carlos Mendes said.
When the “NPSL Pro” initiative was first announced there were 11 members and it was set up to be a new insurgent league that wouldn’t be bound to the whims of the United States Soccer Federation. The NPSL is governed by the United States Adult Soccer Association.
But along came the National Independent Soccer Association – reinvented as part of the USSF structure and set to start its inaugural season this fall – and several Founders Cup founders (Including Miami FC, Oakland Roots, California United Strikers FC) found it better suited their future plans, so they pulled out.
Which, if any, current Members Cup clubs decide to join NISA in 2020 remains to be seen.
I suppose the Cosmos could be one, but it seems unlikely since Commisso isn’t someone interested in doing the bidding of the USSF. In June he purchased Serie A side ACF Fiorentina, and in 2018 famously proposed a $500 million investment in USSF that would revive the NASL and introduce promotion/relegation.
U.S. soccer officials weren’t interested, and it’s hard to imagine Commisso jumping at the chance to hook up with NISA.
But if not NISA, what?
After the NPSL Members Cup is done, the league’s pro plans appear to be off the table for the forseeable future.
In a perfect world, I’d like to see the Cosmos, Chattanooga FC and Detroit FC move forward together. Of course in a perfect world, I’d like to see Asheville City SC and Greenville FC join them.
But lower division soccer – and I say this out of love – is kinda like a sports version of the Monty Python skit “100 Yards For People With No Sense of Direction.” With myriad leagues and clubs, finding a common path is a big ask.
That being said, whichever direction the Cosmos head, I’ll follow.
After all, they’re my club.