I'm referring to the New York Cosmos. Who are actually not a team, rather they are no more than a name, a brand, a resuscitated fad. New York has hired Cobi Jones and Eric Cantona to their staff; and to make things clear, despite what New York says only Cantona is a football legend. But what are the owners of the name New York Cosmos up to?
Yes, we've heard they want to open football academies all over the US. They want to make football sexy in America. They want to bring back the days of being the original "big spenders" of football. However, there is something already missing from their wish list, and that's a team. This begs the question, what is Cantona actually directing at work today?
I'm afraid for American soccer and the MLS if the New York Cosmos are granted the 20th spot in the league when it expands after 2012. Currently, all signs lead to the Cosmos being that team. But with all the money that is currently being pumped into this dead franchise, can they make it in MLS? New York Cosmos were built on buying the best players from around the world at one time. However, with MLS's strict salary cap policy the team wouldn't be able to spend money as lavishly as they did in the 70's; when it existed as an actual team. If the club can't buy who they want when they want, are these owners and employees in for the long haul in MLS. A league in which many expansion teams struggle for years on end before making the playoffs, sans Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders.
By all logic, it seems the Cosmos are losing money every day. By opening academies all over the US and placing a team in MLS they'd continue to throw money down a giant hole. Not to mention if they field a team where would they play. They've already stated they want to be a New York team which means they probably wouldn't approach New York Red Bulls about renting their stadium or approach the NFL's New York Jets and New York Giants, because those stadiums are located just over the state line in New Jersey. So where do they plan to play other than on Major League Baseball's New York Mets' or Yankees' fields. The money and red tape that would go into building a stadium in Manhattan or any of the five boroughs would be a nightmare. Several MLS teams like DC United can't even get planning permission in their cities which are much less crowded than New York. So how do the Cosmos expect to build a new stadium?
What are the benefits for MLS? Currently, the only one that comes to mind is slight recognition from outside of the States. No one outside of the soccer circles in America, and even many in it have little to no clue who the Cosmos were. They may have heard of them, but I guarantee the Cosmos aren't as well known in their own country like they believe. If MLS is stupid enough to put a second team in New York you will see similar sights to those in LA where the Galaxy and Chivas USA play. Despite the largest city in the USA, LA has a hard time supporting two MLS teams. Empty seats are common for matches their, especially for Chivas USA; who was placed in LA to draw the large Mexican-American and Hispanic immigrant population. MLS loves to try and exploit Hispanic communities. The Galaxy rarely sold-out the stadium prior to Beckham joining the team and the fad of Beckham has waned over the past year. New York currently has a hard time supporting one MLS team. Despite Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and a new $200 million stadium the Red Bulls do draw much support or come close to selling out the stadium. The Cosmos love to spout off that the Red Bulls lack support, because they're not actually in New York. But if you're a true fan of a team you trek from all parts of the city to watch the matches. You don't hear American football fans in New York moan about the teams' stadium being in New Jersey. Putting a team closer to people is not a reason for them to come out to a game. It's just their chance to find another reason not to go.
Already New York Cosmos has achieved the publicity they crave. Hell, I feel awful that I've written about them, because it gives them yet another person who has. But right now all they are is a name and a brand. They're retro, they're hip and cool because they're retro. People love retro shirts and jerseys, but if this team ever kicks a ball I believe MLS and New York Cosmos will find very few truly care about the New York Cosmos.