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Raul looking forward to beginning new project with Cosmos

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Photo by Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports

 

By RYAN TOLMICH

After more than 20 years, three Champions League triumphs and countless records, Raul is set to begin his newest project.

The New York Cosmos unveiled the former Real Madrid forward Tuesday, putting an end to a long-term flirtation that culminated in the 37-year-old joining the club as a player and academy consultant.

“(Cosmos head coach) Giovanni Savarese was calling me every month, every other month,” Raul said Tuesday. “…I was able to participate and train with the club, and after that I had very little doubt that this was indeed a great project, and I was ready to sign.

“I’m very much looking forward to starting. There’s a very important word for me which is passion – this word has been transmitted to me. I know that this is going to be a challenge, professionally and personally, as well as at a family level. But I think it’s going to be great, and I’m ready to move forward with this.”

The former Spanish international, who saw his status as most prolific Champions League scorer bested by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo earlier this year, will bring a wealth of experience to a club where he will now join former international teammate Marcos Senna.

With 44 international goals to his credit, Raul has spent plenty of time playing the game on the highest level, but the former Spain captain spoke favorably of the league that he is set to join.

“You can’t compare the level of play in Europe to any other place in the world,” Raul said. “But I was really surprised to see NASL games, and while I expected to see maybe only physical games, it was a great game.

“The level is improving basically day by day, and the United States National Team did a great job in the World Cup in Brazil. I’m very pleased that the level of American soccer is getting better and better.”

Raul, who previously featured for Schalke Qatari club Al Saad as well as the Spanish giants, has signed a two year contract with the club. At 37, Raul understands that his playing days may be numbered, but the Spanish star also understands that he has so much more to offer to the club than just his on-the-field play.

“I have a contract for two years. I will try to play those two years, but it might be one, maybe two, maybe even three years,” Raul said. “If the body says this is it in six months, I will be more involved in the academy. I moved here with something in mind – bringing my family to enjoy New York, which is one of the best cities in the world, and I’m committed to that. There are no limits and no deadlines. I will hopefully play for many, many, many years.

“His involvement from the beginning is that he will be helping the director, which we are going to add to our staff,” Savrarese added. “The director will be full time, but Raúl will be advising this director about building the curriculum, building the structure, and building the entire academy for us. We want to make sure that it is uniform, from the top to the bottom.”

At the end of the day, Raul understands what his role is with the team. On the field, he will guide the club’s younger players while teaching them the ways of being a professional. With the club, he will work with staff to develop the academy system of a club within a league that has no set standard of player development.

But the Raul knows that his biggest contributions are, hopefully, set to come with the country’s youth, whose interest in the game the Spaniard hopes to spark during his time in New York.

“I would like to be a part of this movement,” Raul said, “and see the kids getting out of school and going to play soccer, and follow those big idols coming from Europe.

“A few days ago, I was in Central Park, and next to a baseball field they started to kick the ball around, and all of a sudden there were 14 kids playing soccer. That is the main reason, and that is why the academy will try to develop those kids to help soccer grow in the United States.”

What do you think of the Raul signing? What impact do you expect the Spanish star to make on the Cosmos?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

    • I agree, it’s more likely a merger with RBNY occurs than that a third team is added. I think NY3 is decades away.

      I also think it will be interesting to see what the staying power of a minor league Cosmos team is. How long will people commit time, money, and energy to a team that can’t be promoted, is basically a third wheel, and is unlikely to win USOC or CCL to get out of their box?

      Reply
      • I think the point of the Cosmos is to show that you can be/play 1st division soccer (MLS) while in the 2nd division. While the Cosmos lost in extra time to the Union (USOC finalist), some if not all supporters believe in their cause.

    • I think it’s positive, as with Henry, that he simply wants to live here with his family. It takes all kinds including mercenaries but the long term growth of US soccer is benefitted by people who want to settle here for a while and contribute to the game.

      Reply
  1. Nice, I love the cosmos but hopefully cosmos one day join MLS and is very possible if one day they get over NASL.
    Red bull ain’t leaving anytime, nycfc is being serious and cosmos could easily join MLS if they just follow MLS parity rules but, like I said, cosmos is being delusional.
    However, MLS can easily handle 28 teams, even 32 but MLS won’t go for 3 teams in New York.
    West conference: Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Los Angeles2, San Jose, salt lake, Sacramento, Dallas, Denver, Houston, KC ( possible west expansion cities for #13 &14 are Vegas, San Antonio,OKC, Austin)
    East conference: Chicago, Columbus, dc, NE,Philadelphia, NY,NY2, Orlando, Atlanta, Toronto, Montreal, Miami ( possible east expansion cities for #13 & 14 NY3-cosmos, Minnesota, St.,louis, North Carolina, Baltimore)
    We all know MLS won’t stop at 24, and 26 is the next magic number but IF MLS ever goes for 28, #27 & #28 is going be the toughest and most expensive race.
    Also one very important point, if MLS wants more teams in the east, then a central conference might be need it but I love just having 2 conferences, west and east.

    Reply

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