Speculation 3.0: Navigating the New York Cosmos Rumor Mill

Cosmos Training [Photo by Steve Hamlin]

Things are finally taking shape for the Cosmos as the clock ticks towards the March 25 kickoff for the 2017 NASL Spring Season. As it stands, the Cosmos roster has 18 players under contract, but rumors once again have been swirling around the club. Three trialists were present at the open practice for media, and Amauri was officially announced at the team’s press conference. The club is still expected to have 20 players signed before their preseason trip to the Dominican Republic, and Gio hinted at more signings coming soon, including the possibility of another former player.

The Current Roster

Goalkeepers (3): Jimmy Maurer, Kyle Zobeck, Brian Holt

Defenders (6): Ryan Richter, David Ochieng, Carlos Mendes, Ayoze, Jimmy Mulligan, Alexis Velela

Midfielders (7): Andrea Mancini, Andres Flores, Daniel Szetela, Juan Guerra, Walter Restrepo, Eric Calvillo, Richard Menjivar

Forward (2): Irvin Herrera, Amauri

Gio speaks with Danny [Photo by Steve Hamlin]

Linked Players

Lance Laing: TICC recently learned of the talks with the NASL veteran independently. The former Jamaican international is arguably an NASL All-Time Best XI for the modern era, but is looking to bounce back from a less than stellar 2016 with Minnesota United. Laing trialed with United in preparation for their inaugural season in MLS, but his trial ultimately ended without a contract. The idea of Laing on the left side in front of Ayoze and opposite of Restrepo is definitely tantalizing. We’ll see if he makes the trip to the Caribbean.

Lucas Mendes: TICC also learned the Cosmos had invited the 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year to trial with the team, prompting Mendes to leave the University of Virginia after his freshman season. While small in stature, the 19-year-old Mendes is an exciting and electric attacking prospect. The former DC United Academy prospect has also had trials with Leicester City and Fulham, and could be a nice prospect to have in the club’s ranks.

Antonio Matarazzo: A less concrete rumor, but a rumor none the less. Sources within the Columbia Men’s Soccer Team claim Matarazzo has met with the Cosmos. The former Red Bulls academy midfielder was released by Orlando City B after the 2016 season, one year after his final season with Columbia. Given the current make up of the Cosmos squad, Matarazzo could be a depth signing or even part of the next class of Cosmos B players.

Marco Marchionni: Italian media has been flooded the last week with rumors that the former Parma and Juventus midfielder was looking to leave US Latina Calcio in Serie B to lead the Cosmos for 2017. A versatile midfielder who made a name for himself both pulling the strings or playing on the wings during over a decade in Italy’s top flight, Machionni has seen most of his time with Latina as a defensive midfielder. The 36-year-old made six appearances for the club last season and could be the veteran presence the club has turned to in the past. One Italian source claims he is choosing the Cosmos over a return to Latina and a move to rival Miami FC.

Gaby Mudingayi: Another Serie A mainstay linked to the club who also had a handful of appearances for the Belgium National team. Mundingayi was a regular contributor for Italian sides Torino, Bologna, and Lazio before being purchased by Inter Milan in 2013 following a season on loan with the Italian giants. He would only have a total of 10 appearances for the club after being buried behind their deep midfield. Upon leaving Milan, he bounced around with a few lower division squads. The 35-year-old midfielder is currently a free agent.

Trialists

Witnesses at the Cosmos practice confirmed the team currently has three trialists with the team.

Kalif Alhassan: The 26-year-old is a familiar NASL name after spending the last two seasons with Tampa Bay and Minnesota. Alhassan is a speedy and versatile midfielder who would be able to play in the middle or out wide in the Cosmos system.

Alex Ramos: The son of USMNT legend Tab Ramos. Young Ramos made waves in 2015 when he left Iona University after his Sophomore season to sign with Pachuca in Liga MX. Another wide player, the 20-year-old spent most of his time with Pachuca playing with their youth squads.

Filippo Franchi: The 19-year-old forward has been brought up in the Roma Academy. He’s still listed on the Roma Primavera website as a current player, so it’s unclear if he is out of contact with Roma or if he is coming in on loan.

Kalif Alhassan [Photo by Steve Hamlin]

Moving Forward

It’s definitely refreshing to see the amount of youth that have either signed with the team or have been linked to the club. Whether or not they’ve been brought in for the first team or for Cosmos B remains to be seen.

The Cosmos’ roster looks to almost be complete, but there are still some questions about the back-line. Gio mentioned the team was in talks with a “tremendous” Spanish center-back and was even working to bring back a former Cosmos defender. A high-level partner for Carlos Mendes would be a dream come true for Cosmos fans.

The attack is taking shape, which could mean we only see a few attackers brought in. Laing would definitely be a welcome addition, and Lucas Mendes is oozing with upside. Flores and Mancini seem to be the only options to man the middle, a stark contrast from Bover and Arango last season and Raul the season before.

Flores has seen plenty of time there over the last few seasons, but has yet to establish a spot regularly. He very well could be the primary play-maker for the 2017 season. This makes sense of the possible addition of Alhassan, even if it is only for depth.

Gio used the word tremendous again to describe a Spanish defensive midfielder who is supposedly arriving tomorrow. The two Spaniards could be the marquee players to lead the newest rendition of the Cosmos.

Mundingayi and Marchionni seem to be next the closest thing to a “name” player linked to the team, but Rocco also mentioned his desire of landing a Russian or Ukrainian player to appeal to some of the area locals. Mundingayi could be part of the defensive midfield along with either the Spaniard, Szetela, Guerra, or the promising Calvillo, but it’s hard to see the team bringing in both Mundingayi and Marchionni, and either addition being more than depth and veteran leadership.

The team takes the field against Atletico Pantoja in the DR on March 3, and are expected to play the Dominican Republic National Team at some point during their trip. This offers the team a little bit more time to see some prospects and finalize the team before moving to the Spring.

11 thoughts on “Speculation 3.0: Navigating the New York Cosmos Rumor Mill

  1. Only if this team and this owner was in MLS. For now let’s enjoy cosmos bully the nasl 🙂
    The only team who will be able to stop the cosmos will be deltas.
    By the way if mr.rocco loves Italians, might as well go for buffon, Luca, and some others.

  2. Italians as a separate draw for Italian Americans, or Russian players for Russian immigrants, etc. seems wrong-thinking. South Americans are much more likely to come out to see a fellow compatriot play. The same likelihood can’t be pinned to most Caribbean and european nationals. When you cross-compare that list of soccer-loving countries to the largest populations of nationals living in NYC, the push should be more Colombian, Mexican or Ecuadorean than Dominican, Russian or Ukrainian.

    • I agree 100%. Is Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Astoria and Whitestone coming out to see Amauri? fuggedaboutit.

      splash some cash and go for Erick “Guti” Gutierrez, Arturo Gonzalez, or Orbelin Pineda. A young, promising Colombian, Mexican, Ecuadorean or Brazilian player who needs some polishing before he takes off for Europe will get more people in the stadium. Lets make the Open Cup a priority, market the team properly and forget about courting the ever elusive Long Island soccer moms. A double header friendly match at Citi Field during the 2 week break in between seasons is something that should happen. Google: soccer matches at Citi field and take a look a the attendance numbers.

      • I haven’t been to the boroughs in a while but I have always wonder, which nationality from the Colombian to Mexican would help an MLS,USL,Nasl team do good in the stands.

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