New York, NY—Players and coaches on the most iconic club in United States soccer history, the New York Cosmos, met with members of the media on Media Day on Tuesday afternoon at Buffalo Wild Wings in Times Square.
The Cosmos began in 1971, and in less than a decade the club was world renowned as superstars from all corners of the globe such as Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia and Carlos Alberto had been members of its all-star lineup.
After a 29-year absence from league play the Cosmos re-formed to play its inaugural game to a sell-out crowd at its new home, Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium on August 3, 2013. Great success came quickly as the Cosmos won the NASL Soccer Bowl at the conclusion of its first season to garner its sixth NASL title.
Although the Cosmos played competitively in 2014, they were eliminated from achieving the championship again by a loss in the semi-finals.
The first player signed by the Cosmos, Carlos Mendes, was born in Mineola, Long Island, minutes from the location of the new home of the Cosmos. The New Yorker, now 34, is a veteran of seven years in the MLS six played with the Red Bulls/Metro stars, also in the New York metropolitan area.
Mendes was a soccer standout defender at his high school in Nassau County and at Old Dominion University (ODU).
Mendes, knowledgeable of the history of his sport, stated that the importance of the Cosmos to soccer “was a big part of my decision to sign with them.” He added, “I grew up in New York. It’s a great honor to play for such a big team in the area so near to my home. To play in front of family and people who have always helped you is very satisfying.” He also hopes his presence here “can help grow the future of soccer in New York.”
Mendes was elated by the ultimate win in the inaugural season of the Cosmos and being an integral factor in that success. Thus, he was disappointed by the failure to repeat last year although he was named to the NASL Best XI.
His expectations for 2015 are very high, “We expect to win. That’s why you go out on the field. We added quality players. It’s important to have a guy, Raúl, [the superstar from Spain], who won at the highest level and is a good person. We are preparing to win a championship.”
In addition to the several Cosmos players who have settled in the New York area, is a young man, Hunter Gorskie, who was born in New York City. The 24 year old said his family moved to Marlboro Township in New Jersey when he was one year old. He, obviously did not remember his neighborhood in NYC, but stated he was born at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. When a reporter remarked that he was too young to have any say in that decision, he responded humorously, “My older brother and I ran around the apartment so much, my mother said ‘we need more room, we have to move.’ We had a part in the decision just not verbally.”
The young defender expressed his gratitude in being on the same club as international and experienced talents as Raúl, who joined the club this year, and Senna, who signed prior to their first game in 2013. Of Raúl’s presence, he remarked, “It’s a good opportunity to learn from him. He teaches by example and also shows a desire to help.” He sees the same influence from Senna, “There are a lot of similarities.”
Gorskie attended college across the country at the prestigious Stanford University in California. He was a star defender during his four seasons on the college pitch. Being far from home at that stage in his life helped him grow up and learn responsibility.
Despite the benefit of being away during his college years, he proclaimed, “I’m very happy to come back. It’s definitely an added benefit because I have my family here.
Like Mendes and the others who spoke on Tuesday, Gorskie enthused, “We’re as well prepared as ever to win.”
Others with strong ties to the metropolitan area include David Diosa, Leo Fernandes, Jimmy Mulligan, and Sebastián Guenzatti.
The Cosmos have a large share of foreign nationals as soccer is the most important sport internationally. The club’s players come from Colombia, El Salvador, Spain, Brazil, Norway, Paraguay, Scotland, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.
The Cosmos new season begins on April 4 at Fort Lauderdale. After another road game in Indiana on April11, the Cosmos return to New York for the home opener on April 18 versus Tampa Bay. Hopefully as the season progresses, the fans of the Cosmos will come to know more about each individual on the club.