By RYAN TOLMICH
For over a century, the attractions of Coney Island have provided entertainment for the city of New York. From the famous Cyclone and Wonder Wheel to the hod dogs at the original Nathan’s, Coney Island has long had a flavor all its own.
On Saturday night, the area had an attraction unfamiliar with the theme parks of yesteryear: soccer.
The New York Cosmos played their first home game in the borough of Brooklyn Saturday night, taking down Ottawa Fury FC, 1-0, at MCU Park in Coney Island.
Away from the friendly confines of Hofstra and Shuart Stadium for the first time, the Cosmos’ foray into Brooklyn provided a new experience, one that head coach Giovanni Savarese was quick to embrace.
“I think it was an exciting night to play in Brooklyn in a stadium that was an interesting set-up with all of that stuff going around,” Savarese said.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to it, if it happens again, to be able to play in this place again.”
With Shuart Stadium still being viewed as a temporary solution with one eye fixed towards the club’s long-term developments in Belmont, Savarese was quick to point out that the club still yearns for a stadium to call home.
However, in the temporary, MCU Park, like Shuart Stadium, proved to be a hospitable home, one that Savarse says actually proved to provide a better surface than normal.
“I’ve got to be honest with you: I liked it better,” Savarese said when asked how the field compared to that of Hofstra. “This turf moved the ball better. Of course, you had the different areas of the field, but this pitch was very good, and the turf was good for us to play.”
Savarese’s views were shared by his side, who said that the turf at MCU Park proved to be more similar than that at the club’s training ground.
Goalscorer Lucky Mkosana praised the turf’s softness, stating that the surface was conducive to quick movements of the ball.
Midfielder Leo Fernandes, who provided the assist on Mkosana’s finish, echoed the forward’s statement, while also admitting that the existing baseball field painted onto the pitch did provide it’s share of difficulties.
“I thought it was good,” Fernandes said. “It was different at times when we switched to the brown surface, but I thought we dealt with it well. We played really well in the first half, and the second half was a little more difficult, but I thought we handled it well. We kept most of the ball, so I think we did well today.”
Overall, Savarese insists that the experience was a positive one for the Cosmos, who were embraced by Brooklyn leadership throughout the build up.
While the pitch, atmosphere and foray into Brooklyn were all viewed as positives, Savarese was most pleased to see his side emerge with a victory, one that keeps the team on its ascendance to the top of the Spring Standings.
“It was great. It was a great experience with great energy, and we felt great,” Savarese said. “When the players are able to move the ball on a field that is moving well, it also creates a lot of confidence.
“For us, we’re trying to build up a mentality that wherever we go, wherever we play, whatever we do, we have to always come out with a winning mentality.”
That Leo Fernandres is sure having a good year. The Union could use someone creative like that in their midfield… -____-
Will the club make the switch to this location?
I don’t think they’ll switch to MCU Park from Shuart Stadium, if that is what you are asking. There are way to many scheduling conflicts with the grounds home team, the Brooklyn Cyclones. I don’t know if they could work that out with more time to prepare, but this year, I believe they had one or two more spots open for potential Saturday games. They only needed one day, due to a scheduling conflict with Hofstra, so this worked out well. I think they will make it a yearly thing and come back again next year, even if there isn’t a scheduling conflict.
If you are referring to a permanent switch to Coney Island, that isn’t likely either, but not completely out of the question. They are currently shooting for the site next to Belmont Racetrack. That is the main goal and that is still up in the air, as the Empire State Development Corps (ESDC) seems to be doing some behind the scenes shenanigans with other potential suitors for the site. There were 4 proposals and they have all been submitted in a timely fashion, yet they still haven’t made a decision and now there are talks of a 5th potential suitor, who never made a submission that is now in the discussions, which really makes it look even more shady. The Cosmos really have the best offer, but it looks like backroom deals need to be made and that is really unfortunate.
Anyway, I went on a tangent, but if the Cosmos’ proposal fails, they have contingency plans, which include 3 other sites in the city. These sites have not been made public, as there is NYCFC, who are also actively looking for a site in NYC for a soccer stadium. I believe the Cosmos made it evident one of the sites is in Brooklyn, but it could be in Floyd Bennett Field, East Williamsburg or Coney Island. The Brooklyn borough president said there is parcels of land in Coney Island that could be used, but he’s really in no position to be pushing for this, as his title is really ceremonial and the mayor & co. would have to help pave the way for such a deal to happen.
I know the Cosmos wont pull their offer back, but a big “FU” to the ESDC would be to pull their proposal and just start a new search elsewhere, as I don’t see them approving their proposal, but they will use it as a bargaining chip against the other developers. I hope I’m wrong and they have a legit chance, but the fact its taking this long on what is obviously the best proposal, only brings out the skeptic in me.
Thanks for all of the NASL coverage Ives. Your site is one of the few which treats 2nd division soccer with any respect. Is there a chance for the Cosmos to make this their regular home?
That’s the sad truth for so many that claim to care about the success of the sport in this country. This is the only one of my regularly visited soccer sites that covers NASL outside of the main league’s website. It is appreciated…
MLS is not division 1 because with no promotion and relegation there is no definition.