The Cosmos: Con or Committed?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | View Comments

Two weeks or so ago, I started to write a piece on the new New York Cosmos and their "efforts" to this point in their nascent existence. In light of the release of their Umbro line of gear (which I posted about at the time) and because so much of what they've done to this point seemed...shady, I intended to tear the Cosmos apart as a fake team scamming the world in a bid to sell jerseys.

The piece is still sitting there, one-quarter written, and I'm constantly tempted to go back and finish it. I even looked at it today, with more news out of the Cosmos camp, because I can't shake my skeptical feeling about Paul Kemsley and the group behind the "team."

But a Twitter conversation and statements from Don Garber to Soccer America have me reconsidering writing the piece for now. Not because I'm suddenly convinced the Cosmos are completely on the up-and-up, but because the returns are still coming in. Garber's continued insistence that the league's 20th franchise is likely to be a second team in the New York market and his apparent belief in the Cosmos group is a complicating factor. If I write that the Cosmos look like a scam, I'm essentially calling out the commissioner. I know Garber's not popular with everyone, but it's hard to imagine him being taken in if there wasn't something to the Cosmos.

Garber's response on the question of the Cosmos to Ridge Mahoney:

SA: There’s a lot of buzz coming out of the offices of the Cosmos, which are talking about joining MLS and amassing funding for a stadium. That’s a lot of noise from a team that doesn’t really exist.

GARBER: Well, I wouldn’t say that it doesn’t exist. They’re a very impressive group of guys who understand the sport and are very committed and passionate about the legacy that was left behind with the Cosmos brand, and have a view of how they can translate that legacy into something that can be very hip and relevant to today’s sports fan, whether it’s here or abroad.

That’s a unique approach and I think they’ve done a very good job with their plan but they’ve said that in order to really capture the opportunity they hope to launch it as an MLS club in New York. We’ve talked to them about that, very preliminarily, and will continue to have those discussions, but there’s really nothing more to add to that. But they’re a very impressive bunch of guys.

Okay, so perhaps my hypothesis, that the Cosmos are running a shell game and giving lip service to MLS just to sell jerseys, is a bit thin. Maybe my bullshit alarm is tuned wrong, and the Cosmos are legitimately attempting to put together an MLS expansion bid in the near future. They claim to have stadium financing in place, with an eye towards a soccer-specific venue in Queens, and count me among those who see a team in New York proper to rival the Red Bulls as a positive for the league.

But they're just making it so damn hard.  Sure, they have the academies in New York and LA, but without knowing the details, I can't say whether that means anything.  Pele's involvement means nothing in the end, because he's PelĂ©, and the label "corporate shill" is being kind to the legend.  The deal with Umbro was a massive red flag - why sign up with a competitor of Major League Soccer's contracted supplier (Adidas) to issue jerseys "inspired" by the original Cosmos but not technically throwbacks if you plan on joining the league in a few years?

If the Umbro deal was the point, and not just an attempt to make money in the intervening years between re-launch of the name and joining MLS, then the Cosmos are a joke of a travesty of a sham.  There's no way to know, hence my hesitance on burying them, but some of the names involved in the organization aren't helping either.

Terry Byrne, best mate of David Beckham (who is rumored to either be money behind the Cosmos, or destined to play for them) and one of the people involved in the Galaxy's "Beckham Experiment" era (i.e., the Gullit Disaster).  Kemsley himself, who has a bit of the slime about him.  And now Giorgio Chinaglia (announced today) as an "international ambassador", with duties including "global appearances, speaking engagements and participation in key product initiatives."  The Cosmos brand will somehow be integrated into Chinaglia's satellite radio show as well.

That's what it comes down to, really.  The sense that the Cosmos are being run as a "brand", not as a potential expansion team, with phrases like "product initiatives" being thrown around while guerrilla marketing and logo-emblazoned items are trotted out.  Does that mean they're not serious about joining MLS?  Not necessarily, but it certainly shows a divided focus.

So forget the take-down piece for now.  As I said, I'm open to the idea of New York 2 and I'm a fan of the Cosmos name.  If this thing is for real, I'll be ecstatic.

Just consider me unimpressed so far.


In the immediate aftermath of this going up, Adam Spangler posted the first in a series of interviews with the Cosmos braintrust.  The interview with Terry Byrne leaves me more...ambivalent I suppose, with a slight lessening in the cynical distrust.  While I'm skeptical, I'm also hopeful, which means I'm going to give the Cosmos leadership the benefit of the doubt for the time being.
blog comments powered by Disqus
    KKTC Bahis Siteleri, Online Bahis



    Privacy Policy