The New York Cosmos are back. For real.
On Thursday it was announced that the club, which has operated elite-level youth teams in recent years, will join the second-division North American Soccer League beginning in 2013. The move represents the Cosmos' rebirth as a professional club for the first time since 1984.
Under their previous ownership group, the Cosmos were outspoken about their desire to one day become a candidate for Major League Soccer expansion. That won't change with their addition to the NASL as MLS continues to work on a potential second team in New York City.
“Major League Soccer remains committed to securing an expansion team in New York City,” Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement on Thursday. “The current focus is on exploring a stadium site, but we will continue discussions with several potential ownership groups, including the Cosmos, about the possibility of joining the efforts to bring a second MLS team to New York.”
The Cosmos were the most world-renowned club of the old NASL, when the North American Soccer League represented the top-flight division of the USA. They won five titles and featured some of the biggest names in the history of the sport, including the likes of Pelé and Giorgio Chinaglia.
Last August they were even invited to play in a Paul Scholes testimonial match at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
In addition to the Cosmos' return in 2013, the second-division NASL will also have an Ottawa club join the ranks a year later in 2014. That will make for a total of 10 NASL clubs: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, New York Cosmos, Minnesota Stars FC, Ottawa, Puerto Rico Islanders, San Antonio Scorpions and Tampa Bay Rowdies.
“We welcome the Cosmos’ entrance to the NASL,” Garber said in the statement. “Having a vibrant second division is important to the overall growth and popularity of soccer in North America, and we are pleased to see the NASL add a new franchise.”
A handful of MLS clubs have their roots in the old and new NASL: Seattle Sounders (joined MLS in 2009), Portland Timbers (joined in 2011), Vancouver Whitecaps (2011) and the Montreal Impact (2012). San Jose brought back the old NASL Earthquakes brand ahead of the 2000 season.
Details on the New York Cosmos' stadium, players, technical staff and tickets will be released at a later date.