The New York Cosmos’ 2014 season was launched on a chilly Friday afternoon with an event at a midtown Manhattan pub. Players had gathered upstairs at the Football Factory at Legends, on Thirty-third Street, waiting to be interviewed about the season opener, against the Atlanta Silverbacks. As two dozen journalists sipped Amstel Lights, Blue Moons, and soft drinks at the open bar, Shep Messing, the Cosmos’ goalkeeper during the nineteen-seventies, when the organization brought international superstars like Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer to the United States, spoke enthusiastically about the reincarnation of his former team.
The original Cosmos folded nearly three decades ago, but not before earning a permanent place in U.S. soccer lore by winning the North American Soccer League championship in 1977 and 1978. (When the team returned from the ’77 Soccer Bowl, a Talk of the Town piece noted that the players were greeted by “the most excited crowd that has hit Kennedy Airport since the Beatles came to New York in 1964 to do ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’”) The former general manager G. Peppe Pinton held the team’s rights, and did not relaunch the team for more than twenty years, before selling the brand to a group headed by Paul Kemsley, an Englishman, in 2009. In 2012, after ten million dollars and still no team on the field, Kemsley left. The club fell under the auspices of Sela Sport, a marketing company based in Saudi Arabia, and Seamus O’Brien became its chairman. The Cosmos started playing in the new N.A.S.L. last summer. Led by the head coach Giovanni Savarese, they won the 2013 Soccer Bowl. “It’s just unbelievable to me that a team, after so many years, started with a front office, hired a coach, got players, and went on to win the championship,” Messing said. “I think it’s the miracle of New York.”
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