Posted by Matthew Moore on November 28, 2011 05:05 PM
It's tough to be the new guy, especially when you're trying to be the new guy in what many still consider to be a fringe sport, Major League Soccer. The New York Cosmos are not an expansion team yet, but investors in the franchise have been making a case to become MLS's 20th team. The club's competition for this honor includes efforts in Orlando, Miami, St. Louis, and Atlanta.
Despite an all-star management team including Pele as honorary president and Eric Cantona as director of football, the Cosmos have run into some bad press recently concerning its youth academy, formerly known as Blau-Weiss Gottschee. In short, the youth academy claims that the Cosmos owe it $210,000 stemming from a sponsorship agreement made in 2010. It has filed a lawsuit against the Cosmos as a result. This is obviously not good news for a club trying to convince MLS to add it as a second New York team when there is already one struggling team in the area thanks to the New York Red Bulls.
Following an ownership shake-up earlier this month, the Cosmos may be putting themselves back on track, but MLS commissioner Don Garber has indicated there are a number of potential ownership groups in the running for a New York team, and success in New York would depend on a new stadium similar to the soccer specific stadium the New York Red Bulls have.
The Cosmos brand would be a great add for MLS. The franchise is already capitalizing on its brand recognition and vintage name by selling branded merchandise, and a multicultural market like New York should be attractive for an international sport like soccer. Further, the Cosmos have an opportunity to win where the Red Bulls failed. That is, they could become New York's hometown team by locating themselves in or at least closer to the city than Harrison, New Jersey, the site of the current Red Bull Arena.