MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Michel Salgado of New York Cosmos poses for a photograph at the Umbro Design Studio on August 4, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images for the NY Cosmos)
Following an initial New York Cosmos relaunch that was defined by excess, this one seems to be rooted in far more realistic terms.
As crazy and counter-intuitive as it may sound, the re-launched New York Cosmos actually seem to be talking like people who live in reality. There's a pretty interesting piece over at SI.com that details just how "within their means" this current iteration of the Cosmos are living, from the number of employees (six) to their plans for next year (field an actual professional team in the reborn NASL).
The new guy in charge, Seamus O'Brien, has actual experience running professional sports franchises and definitely comes off as the kind of guy MLS would want to have as part of their club.
The Cosmos becoming MLS team No. 20 is far from a done deal, but for the first time since the brand was dramatically relaunched with former stars like Eric Cantona were given largely ceremonial positions and gobs of money was frittered away, this actually looks like it's serious.
The fact that one of O'Brien's first notable moves was deciding to field an actual team of professionals is clearly a good first step. In the NASL, they'll learn some of the finer points of operating an actual team, experience teams like the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps have used to help launch successful expansion franchises.
That they seem to have found a home at Hofstra University, where they would actually be playing in one of their original stadiums, is another step in the right direction. James M. Shuart Stadium is not in New York City proper, but Hempstead, N.Y. is probably not the worst place to put a second-division soccer team who is still trying to find its legs.
Being as they are carrying one of the most recognizable North American soccer brands, there's at least some expectation that they'll sign some recognizable players. O'Brien is stopping well short of doing anything that would potentially upstage MLS and will likely be more focused on fielding a team that can compete on the field, than one that will be designed simply to garner attention.
That doesn't appear to be for lack of resources, though, another key component in hooking up with MLS. The Cosmos' financial backers seem have plenty of money, they just don't seem to be inclined to splash it around unnecessarily.
For better or worse, that seems like a far more reasonable plan if the Cosmos hope to play in MLS some day. It's hardly breaking news to suggest that MLS tends to gravitate toward good businessmen rather than pure showmen. There's still a lot space between here and the Cosmos playing games in a brand-new, soccer-specific stadium in New York City, but if we're looking for that to start someplace, this seems to be a genuine reason for hope.