Spanish legend Raul reflects on time with Cosmos, new challenges with La Liga

La Liga rooftop event [Photo: Steve Hamlin/TICC]

On Sunday, the two titans of La Liga Santander, Real Madrid and Barcelona, squared off for another running of El Clasico, a match whose importance was amplified by its proximity to the end of the season, and the possibility of seeing the top spot change hands.

La Liga also hosted an event in Manhattan attended by members of the New York soccer community and former members of the two clubs playing. Of the latter, one of those in attendance was Raul, eterno capitán of Real Madrid and a member of the New York Cosmos in 2015. 

Raul [Photo: Steve Hamlin/TICC]

“I’m happy,” said the former striker with a big smile. “At some point, I had to stop playing soccer. La Liga gave me the opportunity for the post I hold now, Country Manager, allowing me an office here. For me, it was an opportunity, a challenge to learn more about the business side of soccer and the business of it here in the United States in a market with other sports that are more closely followed and the truth is the experience is very positive.”

“I’m learning much,” he added. “I’ve been in meetings in places I never could have imagined. These are things that will help me with the steps I take in the future.”

With the stakes so high for this match and his personal connections to Real Madrid, one had to wonder if the match brought back any special memories of his time battling Barcelona.

“I remember many in Liga or in Champions League when we’ve faced off,” he shared. “The goal where I made the silence gesture [to the Barcelona faithful in Camp Nou], which has stayed in history. I have many good memories of those games and some bad ones, because they won many times against us too, but they’re special matches of a big rivalry where you always want to play and you always want to give the best of yourself.”

He also shared his thoughts on his time with New York and how he enjoyed his final season as a player.

“For me, it was a very nice year. I had the dream of living here with my family, to have an experience and there was no better club here in New York than the New York Cosmos with all their history.”

“It was a major labor of Coach Giovanni Savarese who convinced me to come here and play. Marcos Senna, Ayoze, Carlos Mendes, Jimmy Maurer, Freeman, Szetela, Restrepo, many people; We were a team, but we were like a family. The truth is it was a very nice year with many anecdotes, many experiences and I really have a lot of affection towards it because it was my last year, we won the title and there couldn’t have been a better farewell, right?”

He was also happy that the club had survived its near death experience at the end of the year.

“It was such a disillusion when the Cosmos disappeared after winning another title, but another owner is here with dreams and desires. The team has continued playing. They’ve already played four games this season in another location but with the same dreams and the same passion. I think the Cosmos are doing well. I wish them all the best, all the luck.”

Raul [Photo: Steve Hamlin/TICC]

As it turned out, he not only reflected on his time with the Cosmos in the past, but also stayed connected with how they are doing now.

“I’m happy they tied yesterday 1-1. At the end, it was a little bit of a disappointment, but the team is still building up with many new players and I’m sure, little by little, they’ll find their rhythm. The season just started and all the best still lies ahead.”

Despite the misfortunes that befell the club, he remains convinced that the sport is doing well in the United States overall, but he hopes to see better cooperation between two leagues, in particular, for the good of the sport.

“Soccer here is growing very much. There’s many leagues. MLS everyday has more franchises that want to join. The stadiums always look full.”

“The NASL has less teams this year. In my point of view, we’ll have to see what happens between the USL and the NASL. I think a unification would be good, making a league that was a little stronger and seeing some of the better teams go to MLS.”

6 thoughts on “Spanish legend Raul reflects on time with Cosmos, new challenges with La Liga

  1. The stadiums always look full. WUT?
    …and seeing some of the better teams go to *the* ML$. WUT?
    “It was such a disillusion when the Cosmos disappeared after winning another title,”
    Quick Raul, outside of Australian, Canadian and the U$$F name another soccer federation where a club wins the league, doesn’t get promoted to the higher league, and then faces extinction. I will wait.
    Vamos Atlético Madrid
    Vamos Atleti Vamos,
    Vamos Atleti Ale,
    Vamos Atleti Vamos

    • Nickel and dime operations like the Cosmos in a nickel and dime league like the NASL have no business in MAJOR League Soccer.

      Raul was being kind. Imagine what he really thinks about a mess like the Cosmos?

      • Are you that lonely?

        Is your life that sad?

        Do you have anything in your life other than soccer?

        Do you hate yourself that much?

        • For this case I have the perfect remedy:

          I gotta take a little time
          A little time to think things over
          I better read between the lines
          In case I need it when I’m older

          Now this mountain I must climb
          Feels like a world upon my shoulders
          I through the clouds I see love shine
          It keeps me warm as life grows colder

          In my life there’s been heartache and pain
          I don’t know if I can face it again
          Can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far
          To change this lonely life

          I wanna know what love is
          I want you to show me
          I wanna feel what love is
          I know you can show me

          I’m gonna take a little time
          A little time to look around me
          I’ve got nowhere left to hide
          It looks like love has finally found me

          In my life there’s been heartache and pain
          I don’t know if I can face it again
          I can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far
          To change this lonely life

          I wanna know what love is
          I want you to show me
          I wanna feel what love is
          I know you can show me

          I wanna know what love is
          I want you to show me
          And I wanna feel, I want to feel what love is
          And I know, I know you can show me

          Let’s talk about love
          I wanna know what love is, the love that you feel inside
          I want you to show me, and I’m feeling so much love
          I wanna feel what love is, no, you just cannot hide
          I know you can show me, yeah

          I wanna know what love is, let’s talk about love
          I want you to show me, I wanna feel it too
          I wanna feel what love is, I want to feel it too
          And I know and I know, I know you can show me
          Show me love is real, yeah
          I wanna know what love is

  2. Why New York is Green and what does NY Cosmos mean to me:

    I come from Perú, a soccer-crazy country. When I moved to the USA in 1960 I found a barren country as far as soccer was concerned.

    When the NASL and the NY Cosmos emerged in 1971 I finally found my dream come true and I could enjoy again the beautiful game live.

    From the very first time after I watched them at Hofstra I fell in love with the team and its founders because of their vision to promote the beautiful game here in USA. With the signing of Pele the game flourished and the silent revolution took over and soccer became more popular than ever.

    As an avid Cosmos fan I harbor that dream of witnessing soccer not only becoming a popular sport in my adoptive country but also to be competitive world-wide.

    My New York Cosmos should lead that mission to make the US a top soccer country espousing the virtues of free market and the strength of the NASL model.

    New York Cosmos means to me a team committed to the league model, its structure and its long term vision which is becoming an authentic competitive league, for which they have all my support. Green and white forever!
    Tío Hugo

    • Bravo, Tio Hugo! This sort of honesty and personal reflection takes serious strength to write, so I applaud your courage. We all benefit from your perception of the game, as well as your wisdom. Your history and point of view demands respect, though in the stadium you are humble, disarming and full of joy. I am proud to say you are part of my Cosmos family. abrazos

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