February 9, 2013
AN OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME
Ayoze will live his dream: life in NYC and playing for the Cosmos
By Michael Lewis
|Ayoze: "The reputation of the club moved me to come here. The history of the club is very well known in Europe. Players like Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. It is a good option for me and my family to live in New York."
Photo courtesy of the New York Cosmos
When he was born in 1985, there probably wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that Ayoze would have an opportunity to play for one of the most famous soccer teams in the world.
After all, the Spanish midfielder was born one year after the Cosmos and the original North American Soccer League went out of business.
But a generation later, the Cosmos and NASL are back and Ayoze saw playing for the revived side an opportunity to live a dream of his to live in New York and play for the team. On Friday, he became the latest and fourth player to sign with the club.
Well, Ayoze certainly got an unexpected taste of the city and its winter weather when he signed a contract to play with the club on Friday as a snowstorm hit the city.
It was the first time the Canary Islands native had seen snow.
"It never snows there," he said through a translator. "It was the first time I watched it snow so hard. It was impressive."
Ayoze did not try to roll up or throw a snowball on Friday, but he did get a photograph of himself in the snow.
The 27-year-old left-sided midfielder hopes to make an impact with his new club when he and the Cosmos take the field in a competitive match in August. The weather surely will be quite different with temperatures expected to be in the 80s, at the very least.
"My main challenge is to win the title," he said, adding that the club explained to him about the spring and fall seasons. "The challenge is to win the second part and play in the final."
Getting a chance to play for the Cosmos and live in New York City -- he had never been to the city until this trip -- was an opportunity Ayoze said he could not pass up.
"That is one of the motivations for coming here," he said. "I came here with the family to live in New York. The challenge of playing with the Cosmos and my family to live here, I am excited to come here."
Ayoze knew about the history of the storied club, which boasted the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, Giorgio Chinaglia, Vladislav Bogicevic, among others, while capturing five titles in the original NASL.
"The reputation of the club moved me to come here," he said. "The history of the club is very well known in Europe. Players like Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. It is a good option for me and my family to live in New York."
After playing eight years with Tenerife on the Canary Islands, Ayoze performed three years with Sporting Gijon in Spain's La Liga. After last season, he said he stopped his club with the club.
"The offers I had, I didn't like the options," said Ayoze, who was training with a club in Spain to stay fit. "I was waiting for a good option."
That came when one of his representatives met with Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese about two months ago. There was talk about several players and Savarese was most interested in Ayoze.
While Ayoze has finally found a club, the Cosmos won't start competitive games until the NASL fall season kicks off in August. The Cosmos are expected to start training and playing exhibition games in June. Until then, Ayoze said he hoped to find a club in Europe in which to play. to "be in better fitness for August."
Ayoze is expected to give the Cosmos a solid presence on the left side. The press release announcing his signing on Friday said he was a midfielder, but the Spaniard said he could play at left back as well, making him more versatile and giving the club another option.
"The last games of last season I played at left back so i can play two positions," he said. "I can do a good job as a defensive player and a good job as an offensive player. So I can play left back or left winger."
Playing in Spain obviously Ayoze defended against the likes of Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona and Lionel Messi. Needless to say, Ayoze had no doubt who was the better player and the best player on the planet -- Messi.
"The way he plays, the number of goals that he has scored, the titles he has won for Barcelona," he said. "He is the best player."
Given that Ayoze had to face off against the Argentine international several times, he was asked the best way to defend him.
"It's not so easy to defend Messi obviously," he said. "Probably the best way could be anticipation because if he takes the ball and if he dribbles on you, it will be difficult to stop him."