December 21, 2012
HOME OR AWAY?
Cosmos considering pre-season exhibitions here and abroad
By Michael Lewis
|Erik Stover said that preparing for a season takes an enormous amount of time. It's hard for a lot of people to understand. Every part of running a club requires more than games to be ready for the full championship."
Photo courtesy of the New York Cosmos
While the revived New York Cosmos won't be playing an official North American Soccer League game until late July at the earliest, the team is considering playing exhibition games at home or abroad.
"We're considering our options," Cosmos COO Erik Stover said in a recent interview. "We've had invitations to go abroad to play in tournaments. We have a lot of options. I'm not sure what we'll do right now."
Stover said team officials have had "big broad discussions on friendlies. What is the best way to get ready for the fall championship?"
He did not say which teams or countries have invited the Cosmos.
Earlier this month the Cosmos said they decided not to participate in the NASL's spring season, but will kick off their return to competitive play in the fall part of the schedule.
Stover said it was a difficult decision, which he shared with the team's supporters, the Borough Boys on Dec. 1.
"We certainly understand their disappointment because the previous regime had unfulfilled promises," he said. "It was the right decision."
Stover said it was the plan all along to kick off during the summer.
"It wasn't possible to start in March," he said, adding that the Cosmos wanted to do things right.
For example, the team has to number the sections at Shuart Stadium.
"We have to number sections and plot in where those seats go," he said. "We can't have a ticket selling company because they don't have a platform, which we have to make.
"All of that takes an enormous amount of time. It's hard for a lot of people to understand. Every part of running a club requires more than games to be ready for the full championship."
Stover said that having spring and fall seasons "allows us to play in '13." instead of 2014.
He added that the Cosmos will be at a disadvantage playing only one season.
"Everyone we play against will have a half a season of playing and to gel," he said. "That's why our camp in June and July will be important for us to get ready.
"We're going to be around for a long time. It is very important for us to get it right the first time."
Stover said he did not want the team to go one step forward and two backwards. "No one wants that," he said.
When many soccer fans hear about the Cosmos returning, they think that the new team will be like the one of old, when it boasted the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Giorgio Chinaglia, among others.
Stover said the team had to start somewhere. When the original Cosmos began in 1971, they did not have any superstars.
"The North American Soccer League of the early seventies was not the North American Soccer League of the late seventies," he said, alluding to how much the league had changed over several years. "We have more modest goals in the league -- on sustainability and being successful in the NASL. We're also going to be . . . two moves ahead, where the Cosmos start from and where they end up."
The Borough Boys and other supporters understand what the new Cosmos want to accomplish, Stover said.
"We won't have Pele, Beckenbauer and Chinaglia in 2013. the refreshing thing is that everybody gets it," he said. "They want to be there from the beginning. Creating a special atmosphere at Shuart Stadium will be part of our long-term success."