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Marcos Senna Signing Shows That New York Cosmos Mean Business

The revived New York Cosmos announced the signing of Villarreal legend and European Champion Marcos Senna on Thursday. Senna’s signing is further indication that the revived Cosmos, now in the second-tier of football in America, the North American Soccer League (NASL) are serious about building a high-level side despite the restriction of not being in the American top-flight league.

Senna is coming off a season where he helped Villarreal achieve a swift return to the Spanish First Division after being relegated at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season. A holding midfielder who helped lead Spain to the 2008 European Championship title, Senna adds a recognizable face to the American second division (NASL).

Currently, the eight-team NASL has recognizable brand names including the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Tampa Bay Rowdies but lacks a single player of Senna pedigree and visibility.

Last week, the Cosmos announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines that places the iconic American brand alongside that of Arsenal, Paris Saint German, Hamburg and AC Milan.  The sponsorship deal was seen in many quarters as a legitimizing event that brought the Cosmos into a league of its own as far kit deals are concerned.

The Cosmos have lofty ambitions to be the biggest club in the United States. But sitting outside the top tier of American soccer in a structure that does not have performance based promotion and relegation, the Cosmos have a mountain to climb to even prove relevance to the average New York City area fan. Promotion and Relegation contrary to popular belief does exist in the United States but just not in the traditional performance based form. The four newest MLS sides all were “promoted” from the second division due to economic considerations. Previously multiple teams have dropped divisions in the football pyramid also due to economic reasons.

Major League Soccer’s announcement last month of a new club in New York City owned jointly by Manchester City FC and the New York Yankees is sure to have put a monkey wrench into the Cosmos ambition level. The new club named New York City FC will begin play in 2015.  However, the Borough Boys — a local supporters group that was advocating MLS expansion to New York City — expressed disappointment in the MLS decision and have opted to continue supporting the Cosmos. This provided a big boost locally for the Cosmos.

This week the Cosmos also announced a national TV deal with One World Sports beginning with the opening game for the team on August 3rd against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Major League Soccer has national TV deals in place with ESPN, Univision and NBC but no single club has ever signed a national TV deal prior to the Cosmos.

The Cosmos also have submitted a proposal to build a stadium at Belmont Park. Should this stadium plan clear the local political hurdles, it will put pressure on the MLS startup to build a soccer-specific stadium sooner rather than later.

The moves made in recent weeks by the Cosmos means that the battle for New York City is just heating up. Major League Soccer holds the upper hand with the New York City FC startup but the New York Cosmos of the NASL are not going quietly into the night.

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  1. CTBlues

    June 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I hope the Cosmos get their stadium before NYC FC just to stick it to the Shiek. I would love to see NASL take off again.

  2. brn442

    June 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Good article. It would have been nice to have them in New York City proper but the Cosmos do not have the political or financial clout to pull it off.

    Although, the borough of the Bronx is lobbying hard to have NYCFC build a stadium there, instead of Queens.

    If that offer were to be rebuffed, perhaps the Cosmos would be welcomed near the home of the Yankees.

  3. Mrmikj

    June 15, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Nice article, though I would have like if you would have gone a little more into the way the promotion system currently works in the US.

    Also Emirates Airlines is a *Middle eastern corporation – not American

    • The Gaffer

      June 16, 2013 at 8:26 am

      He’s not saying that Emirates Airlines is an American brand. He’s saying that the Cosmos is an iconic American brand!

      The Gaffer

      • Tim Nash

        June 17, 2013 at 3:21 pm

        But is “Cosmos” really an iconic American brand? To those of us of a certain age, who lived during the NASL late 70s glory Cosmos, sure. But to the average American? Hardly an iconic brand. It’s like saying Eastern Airlines is an iconic brand. Both have been dormant for more than a generation.

  4. Smokey Bacon

    June 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    With no promotion or relegation in MLS what sort of business will the Cosmos be doing? Joke signing of a player in the twilight of his career. Nice work if you can get it. Basically a paid holiday in one of the top cities in the world.

  5. MrTuktoyaktuk

    June 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    It’s a risky “big fish in a little pond” strategy. Not to take anything away from NASL 2.0. In fact as NASL fills in the geographical gaps in N.Amer’s professional game, it will continue to grow. But having one team in the league having disproportional financial strength to the other teams in the league is a prescription for instability. Can it work to have the Cosmos pull the league up? Maybe. It also may set up a two tier competitive environment in the league too.

  6. Flyvanescence

    June 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    The interesting thing is that not being in MLS IS WHY the Cosmos have a chance of being the dominant club in American soccer. They are free to work independently, own their brand and can sign whatever players they want.

    This will lead to more interest in the other NASL clubs as they will be competing with the Cosmos, and bring in more revenue for them.

    The individual clubs in MLS are going nowhere fast. They can only grow as the league as a whole grows.

    Therefore i think the Cosmos are doing it right if their ambitions are as lofty as they claim.

  7. Bishopville Red

    June 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    They can try all they want; the shop’s closed and they’re shut out.

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