COO Erik Stover answers Cosmos questions

12842507_10154174296391091_363274198_oWith about half a month until kick-off, Cosmos COO Erik Stover hopped on to Reddit to conduct an Ask Me Anything session. Some popular Cosmos questions were asked. Many got answers.

Stadium

Still no change to report here. Asked about alternate plans on the stadium should Belmont fall through, we saw an answer we’re used to seeing.

“We have 3-4 sites with potential, but they all require significant investment and feasibility studies. Because the Belmont RFP has been reactivated over the last four months, we have been solely focused on that location. I’m as optimistic on Belmont as I have been in three years.”

“The rumors are flying like crazy now. The one thing we know is that the ESD has told us they are making a decision. Hopefully that goes in our favor, and they make the decision soon. The waiting has undoubtedly hurt our growth potential, but we believe that is by far the best site and is most likely to help us accomplish all of our goals.”

 

Roster

Regarding roster spots, questions on the ever popular Niko Kranjčar were asked. With him getting considerable play time during the Cosmos preseason, people have openly wondered if he would join the Cosmos and, with all international spots taken, how they would accomplish this.

“Niko is a great player and a wonderful person. The roster situation at the moment makes it difficult, but we haven’t ruled it out completely. We expect that to be resolved – one way or the other – in the next few days,” said Stover. “Currently we’re at the maximum international roster spots. One player has applied for a green card, and we are in the middle of that process. The timing of that is uncertain.”

This is not an unprecedented move by the Cosmos who, as we understand, helped Andres Flores get his green card and free up a spot.

Two players who had been previously linked to the Cosmos, Hercules Gomez and Georgios Samaras, were also inquired about.

“At this point, probably not [Gomez]. We like where the roster stands at the moment. There may be 1-2 other transactions, but likely not with Herculez,” he commented. He followed up by commenting on Samaras, “I think Rayo OKC signing him is great for the league. Samaras is a great guy. We took a long look at him, and in the end we decided to go in a different direction. Hopefully he’s fully recovered and can perform well for Rayo OKC and the NASL… just not against the Cosmos.”

Noting a question about a perceived shift in the Cosmos’ approach to signings, going for quality signings, instead of “name” players.

“I would agree that the strategy has changed slightly, but only that the B Team has given us greater flexibility in signing younger players. We’ve been very successful with that over the past two seasons. There are only so many Raúls in the world, and it was a huge opportunity for us to have him on the team last year. Juan Arango is certainly an international star, albeit one that has played for smaller clubs.”

Commenting on the overall status of the roster, he had only a positive message to share.

“I think this is the best roster that we’ve had over the past four seasons. We’ve gotten better at almost every position. Right now, there’s not a glaring need. But you never know what opportunity might present itself.”

 

Cosmos B

With an NPSL title in their inaugural year and a number of players promoted to the first team, Stover showered Cosmos B with praise regarding the opportunities they offered the organization.

“It brings so much. We were able to sign Ruben Bover and help him rehab from an injury, then he played into a first team position. Without Cosmos B we may not have been able to take that chance. On a youth level, we can sign guys like Haji Wright, Alexis Velela and Eric Calvillo knowing they will get minutes, at least with the B Team, and continue their development at such a critical age. For players injured on the first team, it’s a way to play their ways back without having to jump right into the first team. And guys on the roster 19-24 can get consistent minutes throughout the summer.”

“Hopefully in the future the NASL teams that have NPSL teams can find a way to extend the season beyond three and a half months.”

We should see a schedule soon and the roster-building is underway.

 

Under Armour

With the kit unveiling happening next week, curiosity is at an all-time high with the Cosmos choosing to work with Under Armour over their previous deal with Nike. Naturally, questions have arisen over the benefits. Stover commented on this, making it clear that things should only get better as time passes.

“We expect greater distribution of Cosmos gear, including a presence in Under Armour stores in New York. Under Armour is aggressively moving into soccer, in the U.S. and abroad. To have a partner committed to helping us will be great moving forward,” said the COO. “It’s a bit of a scramble trying to get things ready for the start of the season, but over the length of the contract we expect things to improve dramatically.”

Pressed for details on what the kits might look like (solid colors, a different look), he responded, “This year’s designs will be different, but you’ll see more creativity in customization in future years.”

 

Academy

Ronan Wiseman was recently announced as Assistant Youth Director for the Cosmos academy, leaving the question: who’ll run the show?

“We are definitely filling the director position. We hope to make a decision on that very shortly,” he said adding a comment on Wiseman being well-qualified for the job.

That’s not the only hiring underway either, with multiple levels being worked on.

“The U-12 status has been confirmed. U-13 and U-14 applications are pending, and we’re in the process of staffing out all three teams.”

 

Women

Some Cosmos fans have been vocal about the possibility of seeing women don the green and white for the club. It seems the club agrees with this vision.

“Yes. It would be some years down the road, but we can envision an academy and professional women’s team.”

 

Preseason/Tournaments

Some disappointing news for Cosmos fans regarding preseason was shared. Despite getting some solid friendlies and scrimmages in California, Florida, and South Carolina, after preseasons in England, Dubai, Hong Kong and El Salvador in previous years, it doesn’t look like the Cosmos will leave the country this preseason.

“We’ve worked on a lot of things, particularly for the preseason. But we haven’t been able to close any deals. There’s always a possibility for something in June or postseason.”

Cosmos fans also shouldn’t expect to see them in the International Champions Cup this year, despite recent buzz.

“We’ve spoken to Charlie Stillitano about the ICC in the past. Definitely not happening this year, but could happen in the future.”

 

Additional Notes

With the challenge of scheduling league and Open Cup matches at Hofstra becoming an issue in the past, it doesn’t sound like scheduling issues with the university are behind them.

“Scheduling at Hofstra is always difficult, regular season or Open Cup. Hopefully we don’t have any challenges this year.”

Positive thoughts on the level of competition in the NASL this year from the Cosmos COO. Asked about which teams impressed him this offseason, “Tampa Bay, Fort Lauderdale and Minnesota have impressed me. I also think Tony Meola was a good get for Jacksonville. The league is clearly growing, and those four teams plus the rest of the league are a sign of that.”

 

The roster news excites me. I’ve long suspected a green card move was in the works to get Niko on the team and I’m glad to see that the Cosmos are actively trying to secure him. I’m severely disappointed by the preseason news. I’ll have more to say on that later. While the Under Armour distribution sounds like a challenge initially, it sounds like a big win in the long game. Cannot wait to see how this develops. Excited about the sound of a women’s team, even if it is years away. To see the Cosmos become a part of WoSo in this country can only be positive.

 

Nicks ThoughtsIt’s funny! The other day I was thinking to myself about the roster and thinking this might be the strongest and deepest one we have seen yet and it seems that the club agrees.

Other than that, it was a very interesting AMA but not one that offered any ground breaking news. However, not sure you will ever see major news broke on Reddit, especially the way the Cosmos do business.

The things that stuck out to me the most was the Under Armour deal as I am very excited to see what they bring to the New York Cosmos and NASL. It seems that they are about to lose the business of Tottenham and they are very focused on the US. It will be fun to see how this relationship develops.

The womens’ team will be a nice touch for sure, but it seems everything they have planned on for the future really depends on Belmont, which they are still waiting for a decision on. Stover has been very optimistic about Belmont going back to the fan event that caused mass hysteria thanks to our recording it. Fans want to feel that same positive attitude but just can not at this point. That decision needs to come soon.

Must be nice in the off season to leave the office at 1PM to enjoy the Big East Tournament.

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