This is Cosmos Country Blog — August 4, 2013 at 4:50 am

Cosmos Triumphantly Return to NASL after a 29-year Absence


Cosmos makes Triumphant Return. (Image Credit: Miguel Cruz)

Uniondale, NY- The past, present and future merged into one event on Saturday evening, August 3 as the N.Y. Cosmos played their first game as a member of the North American Soccer League (NASL) since 1984. The legendary soccer club was reborn as an active league team after an absence of nearly 30 years.

The site of the event, the James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University, is also a familiar sight to those who remember the first incarnation of the Cosmos as it was their home stadium in their second and third years of existence, 1972 and 1973. Interestingly, the three other homes of the original Cosmos, Yankee Stadium, Downing Stadium and Giants Stadium, were all demolished several years ago.

The Cosmos were founded by several executives from Warner Communications in 1970. There was little notice of the team outside of U.S. soccer circles until the arrival of the legendary Brazilian Pelé in 1975. The presence of Pelé gave instant credibility to the club as the soccer icon was the most recognizable athlete in the world with the possible exception of Muhammad Ali.

The desire to be a teammate of Pelé attracted international stars like Carlos Alberto, Giorgio Chinaglia and Franz Beckenbauer to join the Cosmos and a myriad of other world renowned players to the NASL’s other clubs. Interestingly, four of 11 players chosen in 1998 as the World Team of the 20th Century were members of the Cosmos. These four greats are: Pelé, Alberto, Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff, who played two exhibition matches as a member of the team.

The Cosmos’ constellation of stars from all areas of the world also attracted great numbers of fans to matches. In 1974, average attendance was 3,578, but with the change in personnel this number grew to an average per match in 1978 of 47,856. The presence of outstanding players also led to success on the pitch as they were champions of the Soccer Bowl in 1972, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982.

Unfortunately, interest fell in U.S. pro soccer and the Cosmos ended their run after the 1984 season. Interest in a resurrection of the Cosmos has remained alive throughout the years. Those who retained faith were rewarded on August 3 as the Cosmos began a new season against an old rival, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

The connection to the Cosmos club of decades past remains as Pelé, the club’s honorary president, Alberto and Chinaglia’s son were honored before the start of the match. Also present during the pre-game ceremony was popular former Cosmos goalie, Shep Messing, and Peru’s greatest footballer, Teófilo “Nene” Cubillas.

The latter was invited by his former club in Florida. Another reminder of those heady years is the presence of Alecko Eskandarian as an assistant coach of the Cosmos. His father, Andranik, came from Iran to play for the Cosmos in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

The 2013 NY Cosmos, as representatives of the cosmopolitan city of New York, appropriately retain the international flavor of the past as 11 nations are represented by players on the current roster.

The events of Saturday night at Hofstra exhibit the falsity of the statement, you can’t go home again. The club returned to its only existing former home, now named Shuart Stadium,  and were greeted by a capacity crowd of 11,929 supportive fans. It first home game on May 5, 1971 at Yankee Stadium drew only 3,746.

The club’s most recent match with the Strikers on May 8, 1983 was won by the Cosmos with a one goal advantage, 3-2. History repeated itself on Saturday as the Cosmos were again victorious by a one goal margin, 2-1.

Although its players had relatively little time to prepare to work as a cohesive unit, the Cosmos had control of the ball during most of the first half. Shortly before the conclusion of the half, in the 44thminute, Peri Marosevic scored the first goal of the match.

The Strikers made adjustments to play more effectively in the second half. The game was tied on a goal by Walter Restrpo in the 73rd minute. At the end of 90 minutes, three minutes of stoppage time were added to the clock. A header by Alessandro Noselli during those minutes gave a victory to the NY Cosmos.

After the win by the Cosmos, the spirited fans traveled home happily, many planning to return to the stadium on August 24th for home contest #2.

Howard Goldin is a Bronx native educator who has written articles on a large number of sports. Mr. Goldin is an English instructor at Monroe College and freelances for His favorite sport is baseball.

*This article also appears on

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