Toronto (Canada) (AFP) – Major League Soccer will not allow crisis-hit New York Cosmos to join their league as a third team in the area, league commissioner Don Garber said on Friday.

The Cosmos, which became the most famous club in American soccer during the 1970s when the likes of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer played in the old North American Soccer League, was reformed five years ago but now faces an uncertain future.

A crisis in the modern North American Soccer League (NASL), US soccer’s second tier, has prompted the Cosmos ownership to terminate the contracts of its players. 

While Cosmos insist the franchise is still in business, it has no players and no stadium, and it remains little more than a brand.

Asked whether he could envisage a Cosmos team joining MLS, which already has New York City FC and the New Jersey-based New York Red Bulls, Garber was emphatic.

“We have two teams in MLS in New York, we are not going to have a third team. (The Cosmos) are going to decide to do whatever it is that they as owners of the trademark have the right to do,” he said.

The Cosmos turned down the chance to become an MLS team shortly after being purchased by businessman Seamus O’Brien, instead opting to play in the second tier NASL instead.

MLS turned to the Abu-Dhabi financed City Football Group, which also own Manchester City, when they expanded with a second team in the city with NYCFC joining two years ago.

Garber said that while the Cosmos name still resonated, the club had made their decision.

“It is a great brand. I spoke to the original purchaser of the brand many many years ago. I had numerous conversations, before NYCFC came in with Seamus O’Brien and his international investors and they made a decision that I am sure that they thought was the right thing at the time. 

“Frankly, I don’t say this in any way lightly, I wish them luck, because if it reverberates around the world that there is instability in professional soccer, I don’t think that is good for anybody,” he said.

MLS works closely with another league, the third-tier United Soccer League (USL) which features some MLS reserve teams and also other clubs with close ties to MLS who feature loan players from the top tier.

“We will continue to support the game, including at the lower levels, we have ten teams that operating USL clubs and all of our clubs are affiliated with USL that is allowing us to develop players way more effectively than a reserve league, we want them to be strong,” said Garber.