Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This Is American Soccer, US Soccer, MNT, WNT, and MLS » Blog Archive » the Cosmos, for free!

Will the MLS see the return of the Cosmos? That is the subject of a great piece by Adam Spengler who spoke with Peppe Pinton, the man who owns the rights to the famed NASL Franchise that at one time was the most successful American soccer team.

With the arrival of former NASL clubs Seattle Souncers, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps into the MLS in the next couple of years, it has become something of an assumption and certainly a question of when North America's most famous soccer club will be resurrected and brought into the American soccer fold once again. To a certain extent, Pinton is the Cosmos and his personal interest may not be easily separated from corporate interest, but he does have a plan and it is not an unreasonable one:
The next step is very simple. What I realized at Lazio, and what makes sports so great in many places, is to have a second franchise in the same city. Rome and Lazio. Inter Milan and Milan. Juventus and Torino. Particularly—and I think MLS is doing this in LA—the New York market. You need to create competition—Mets and Yankees. You could have Red Bull and Cosmos here in New York—and they could be playing in the same stadium for heaven’s sake. I played Lazio in Olympic Stadium with Roma. No big deal. The economics become much better. Stadiums have empty dates that need to be filled. They are already building their own stadiums all over MLS. Now let’s fill them, while creating rivalry and fan appeal. What needs to be done is lift this asset which is free and clear—I repeat: free and clear for any team. There is no doubt, no loophole. Someone can have the same franchise that Pele and Beckenbauer played for. They get all the trophies, all the history that I have preserved.
To a great extent I have to agree, the "megapolis" that exists between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, with their long soccer histories, will generate intense rivalry and will be good for the game and the league. The same could be said of the Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York corridor. Already the DC United/RBNY rivalry is getting solidified.

A second franchise in New York could be beneficial and if that franchise has the history of the Cosmos behind it, could bring some competition in the city, much like the multiple rivalries you see in Europe and South America: Roma/Lazio, Inter Milan/AC Milan, Fenerbache/Galatasary, Boca Juniors/River Plate, Chelsea/Arsenel, etc. But such rivalries take years, decades even to build. Indeed, one of Pinton's analogies, Mets/Yankees in New York or Cubs/White Sox in Chicago is flawed because until the 1990's there was no cross competition between the teams as they competed in different "leagues."

I am not sure if or more probably when, a Cosmos franchise will join MLS, but I do think it almost a certainty. What role Pinton will have, and what he will achieve as a result, is of course an interesting side question but one that will have to be resolved.

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