The Cosmos announced a series of moves this past Thursday. Contract negotiations were revealed, the club announced some options that got picked up, and releases were made public.
Among the releases were Haji Wright, a prominent figure due to his involvement with the US U-17s, and John Neeskens, a promising center back according to those who watched him captain the Cosmos B team to an NPSL title. Furthermore, the news of Leo Fernandes and Walter Restrepo potentially not being with the club next year came to light. There was definitely buzz among Cosmos supporters, some good, and some pretty bad.
But, I gotta say that, right now, we’re in decent shape.
Contract extensions were given to some solid options. Seba Guenzatti found himself back in the Starting XI and closed the year strong. Adam Moffat might have kept the starting spot at defensive mid if injury hadn’t ended his season. Ruben Bover looks so, so promising and versatile with his performance in the midfield. Even David Diosa, who has struggled to find time on the pitch this year has displayed versatility with him being employed on the backline this year.
The cuts made should not come as a surprise to anyone. Keasel Broome spent a decent portion of the year recovering from injury and there is much competition for the number two goalkeeper spot with Brian Holt and Kyle Zobeck fighting for the position. John Neesksens, the son of Cosmos great Johan Neeskens, leaves without a single minute played for the team. His signing coincided with the Cosmos’ push for the top playoff spot, the return of Roversio, and the playoffs themselves which all doomed his chances to play in 2015. Samuel Caceres, on loan from Nueva Chicago, returns to Argentina. He dropped down the depth chart after demonstrating inconsistency in his play. Kharlton Belmar was merely a depth signing at the forward position and made only one appearance. Haji Wright is expected to make the move to Europe so his departure should come as a surprise to no one.
To add to the concerns, Leo Fernandes and Walter Restrepo may not return. Fernandes is still a member of the Philadelphia Union and it’s unclear if the Cosmos will get another loan or a permanent transfer for his services, but with the Union having tried to recall him mid-year, this could get pretty tricky. Restrepo wants to explore his free agency and the club has honored his wishes, choosing not to exercise their option in his contract unless he decides to return.
And then, of course, there’s Marcos Senna and Raul.
Understandably, these last few players are causes of concern for Cosmos Country. Their contributions to the offense have been notable.
For a team that just won the title and looks to repeat, it’s crucial to keep the core together. And the Cosmos have just done that.
Captain Carlos Mendes and Roversio are both returning for 2016. Hunter Freeman, Ayoze, Jimmy Maurer, Danny Szetela, Andres Flores, Lucky Mkosana, and newcomer Alexis Velela will all back next year.
Negotiations are still underway with Gaston Cellerion, Hagop Chirishian, Hunter Gorskie, Jimmy Mulligan, Kyle Zobeck, and Brian Holt.
And all this before a single signing has been announced.
Understandably, supporters are going to be nervous. The league is looking to get tougher next year as evidenced by the Rowdies picking up Tommy Heinemann (who scored two goals against the Mos, while a man down in the final), and Minnesota United picking up Stefano Pinho while still being linked to Lance Laing. Throw in the Ronaldinho to Strikers rumors and it can feel like a lot to process already and it’s only December.
Not to say work doesn’t need to be done…the midfield just lost two and may be losing up to four starters. The forward position needs to be ironed out and it can be argued that the center backs and right back could use some solidifying, but we’re less than a month out from winning the Soccer Bowl and we haven’t even gotten to signings yet.
Be patient, Cosmos Country. Freak out time shouldn’t start hitting until around February.
While it is not exactly time to panic, the news in the midfield is something Cosmos fans should watch with a bit of concern.
While the Cosmos are currently in talks with the Philadelphia Union over the future of Leo Fernandes, he is currently still a Union player and, as Luis mentioned, they already tried to call him back mid-year. If Restrepo departs via free agency and the Cosmos cannot find a way to get Leo back to Long Island in 2016, the team will lose 22 of its 49 goals.
Keeping Moffat is a fantastic move as he proved completely viable as a holding midfield option. He normally was run out as a sole holding midfielder so you wonder how that will impact formations or Danny Szetela’s role, but Adam was a great addition to the Cosmos.
Caceres was another loan that was ended and while he served well during Roversio’s injury, there was a lack of consistency as well as some mistakes.
Finally, I don’t think any Cosmos fan should be shocked that Haji will not return. There is a bright future for this kid on the club and international level and he has always shown an interest in going overseas. Good luck on that journey, Haji.