For all the talk about a global reach and a worldwide brand, for all the big-name presidents and consultants, NASL's New York Cosmos kept it local with their first signing.
The club, which will play at Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y., inked former MLS defender Carlos Mendes on Tuesday. Mendes is a Long Island native who grew up just a few towns over from the Cosmos' new home.
“I'm thrilled to join the New York Cosmos and not only play for a club that has seen some of the greatest players in soccer history but also return to my backyard to get the chance to compete in front of family and friends,” Mendes said in a press release.
"Carlos is a Long Island guy, well respected in the community and a leader on and off the field,” said Cosmos COO Erik Stover. “He gives us a solid foundation to build our club around.”
Mendes, 31, also brings ties to the Red Bulls with him. He spent seven seasons on the other side of the Hudson, first with the MetroStars in 2005, and then with RBNY until the 2011 season. He spent 2012 with the Crew. During his MLS career, he suited up 158 times, including 140 starts.
He joins a growing list of onetime RBNY players, coaches and executives who now have roles with the Cosmos. Stover was managing director for several years, head coach Giovanni Savarese both played for the MetroStars and helped build the RBNY Academy, and Shep Messing, the longtime color commentator for RBNY, is an "International Ambassador" for the Cosmos.
“Carlos is an experienced and solid defender," Savarese said. "We fully expect him to be a strong presence in the locker room and provide us with the leadership we’ll need."
The Cosmos are set to begin play in the NASL Fall Championship season, which begins in August of 2013.
"We've said from the beginning that when we returned to the field, we would do it in the right way," Stover explained. "This allows us the time we need to build our staff and operational capabilities in a professional manner. But most importantly, especially for our loyal fans, it gives us the necessary time to put a club on the field they can be proud of."