What was old is new again ... or something like that. The New York Cosmos, still arguably the most recognizable brand in American soccer despite a nearly 30-year absence, will be returning to the NASL in 2013, the league announced on Thursday. They will be the ninth team in the league, which will admit Ottawa as team No. 10 in 2014.
"The history of the Cosmos and soccer in the New York City area are intertwined," NASL Commissioner David Downs said in a statement. "Bringing the Cosmos into the NASL is a logical next step as we embrace the heritage of our own past and now reunite the Cosmos, Strikers, Rowdies and several markets with ties to the NASL’s early days. Most importantly, we look forward to the Cosmos enhancing the quality of our league both on and off the field."
There are still some rather significant details of the Cosmos' return to be worked out, the biggest of which is where they'll play home games. There have been several rumored sites for a potential home, but there was a notable absence of anything official in the release.
During their heyday, the Cosmos were drawing crowds of nearly 50,000 to Giants Stadium. Players like Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia helped lead them to a record five Soccer Bowl titles and made them the most successful team during the original iteration of the NASL.
The Cosmos name has lived on more as a branding idea than anything else, and previous attempts to relaunch have failed spectacularly. Their most significant moment in recent history was probably a group of former stars suiting up in Cosmos gear to play against Manchester United in Paul Scholes' testimonial last year. This move heralds their most significant step toward returning to top flight soccer, though.
"The owners of the Club are committed to running the team to the highest professional standards both on and off the field," Cosmos Chairman Seamus O'Brien said on the team's website. "As we look to the future, on a national and international stage, we remain conscious of the Club's unique and unmatched history, and the role this has played in the lives of so many of our fans. It is with this legacy in our heart that we set our minds to the future."