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Report: Cosmos cease operations as owners negotiate sale


The New York Cosmos recent struggles took another, potentially fatal, turn this weekend.

The Cosmos have reportedly ceased operations and released their players and staff, according to Big Apple Soccer. The team could be saved, however, as the Cosmos ownership have entered negotiations with a New York group for the purchase of the team, along with several million dollars in debt.

The two groups are reportedly still negotiating and no deal has been agreed to as of yet, despite the NASL’s efforts to save it’s flagship team.

A Cosmos source told SBI that the league is still determining the future of the team.

While all released players have been paid through the duration of November, the staff has reportedly not yet been paid.

The USSF is scheduled to meet in New York on Monday to determine the status of the USL’s division two application on Monday as well.


  1. I am not convinced that any 2nd level pro league will thrive until there are enough teams to set up regional conferences, minimize travel costs and court local fans. Also I think MLS will likely grow to 30-40 teams before a stable set of 3-4 regional 2nd tier leagues is viable. That could take 50 years (10-15 for MLS growth and another 40 years of a constantly changing landscape of 2nd tier teams).

    By the time there is room for the Cosmos to return it will likely be 50 years since the days of Pele, etc. unless NYCFC or RedBull have a change in ownership and undergo a name change; I don’t see that happening.

  2. All 30 fans that go games are going to be upset and I feel bad for them….Lets call it like it is. They are a lifestyle brand that thought they could sell nostalgia and failed. There is no one to blame but the cosmos front office for complete mismanagement and no one else.

  3. I’m sad for the players/staff directly affected, but this has been inevitable since the Cosmos gave MLS the finger, and then completely overspent their budget. This is validation for Garber and the slow steady approach of MLS. MLS is on the cusp of turning a big corner into true success, and the downfall of NASL, while a bummer, is an opportunity for MLS and US soccer. What MLS needs most desperately is a strong solid 2nd division to develop talent. Hopefully US Soccer can merge/reorganize or whatever to make this happen.

  4. I’d imagine every USL team is currently talking to these players trying to sign some of them. With NASL falling apart that is alot of quality players that are becoming available.

  5. Good riddance. USL did it right, and US Soccer even bent the rules to allow NASL to technically be the second-tier league.

    It’s amazing how the new NASL didn’t learn from the old one. MLS did it right with its cost-controlled single-entity structure.

  6. I am sure MLS owners and their lackey, Garber, love this. Whether people like it or not, US Soccer is moving towards the US Baseball model:

    (1) One Major League/Top Flight (MLS),
    (2) With eventually 30-40 teams in 2 conferences,
    (3) With a multi-tiered professional developmental level – instead of rookie ball through AAA, I think we will have USL1 through USL3 because you will need a lot of teams to cover the US think 75 -100 teams at least through the 3 divisions to cover the broad US.
    (4) Finally, extensive amateur teams composed of: (1) academy teams, (2) independent PDL teams which work with/subsidized by US Soccer and (3) independent club teams – which the academy and PDL teams being the highest level.

    • Why would Garber even give it two thoughts? 3500 fans some of which will follow MLS?
      Maybe they were drawing phenom numbers on TV?

      Maybe you think, I disagree, they were going to be big time. Nothing, absolutely nothing, shows any evidence that was going to happen.

      I want there to be more soccer, but it has been very clear what Americans want that to look like.
      Parity model. No question.

      • Listen, I am a Toronto FC fana nd have been since the started and hate MetroStars/Red Bulls, so I don’t have a dog in this fight. However, I am also a fan of some pro/reg, and I like the franchise model with a salary cap. The fact is, I think some of the old NASL teams could come into MLS and be successes if the did it right (a la Montreal, Seattle, Portland etc) because they have fan bases and history. However, Cosmos’ failure is on them. They gambled and lost. Any lawyer can tell you that they could have bought into a single entity MLS and kept previous team and history as a separate entity. Now Man City beat them to it and the are SOL.

        Now, I am not foolish. I don’t see pro/reg happening in the near future. I see MLS growing to 36/40 teams in the next 25 years or so and having 2 conferences like other American leagues, but I hate that. I still think that a balanced scheduled throughout the year like every other league I know of and major league baseball used to due for each league truly determines the best team.

  7. MLS needs to start its own 2nd Division. Perfect time to have all soccer under one League system now that there’s blood in the water.

      • Because in the rest of the world talent develops, sometimes briefly, but nearly always, by getting their feet wet in a good, serious second or third division, where crowds aren’t always big but results really matter, clubs have history, fandom. The US continues to have a difficult time producing top players, in large part because there are no good feeder clubs. The USL, which is made up of too many reserve teams, should stay third division. The NASL could have served a great purpose for the development of the American player – it does have the history with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (I was watching those clubs almost thirty years ago) if it weren’t for the constant bickering and their ideological differences with MLS.

        I hope something good comes of, what seems to be, a folding league and their respectable clubs.

      • Legitimate point, Concorde, but I think that is the way we are heading. USL will either split regionally or split into two separate divisions because there could easily be 40 teams there in the next couple of years. Probably a good idea to keep reserve teams in third division and MLS can loan players that they want to play higher level competition to a second division team.

    • I actually think that the best model would be a modified pro/reg with minor league system. What I mean is MLS1/2 with 40 -50 teams where each team has at least 1 academy team and 1 professional development team that would play in the USL pyramid which would allow relegation between USL1/2/3.

      Actually, my preferred model would be something similar to Spanish League structure where you have a lot of independent teams with a developmental amateur team(s) and 1 second/reserve team. The first and second team play in the pyramid at the same time, but the second team cannot be promoted to (or play in) the same level as the first team.

  8. I think we need to be done with the Cosmos nostalgia. They will never be the Cosmos of the late ’70s, and they may never be anything anymore.

    I don’t see them getting into MLS. MLS is not going to put 3 teams in the NYC market, so the only way for the Cosmos to play in the top division in this country is to buy the Red Bulls and rebrand them. That seems very unlikely at this point.

    I always thought the Cosmos could have succeeded had they focused on being the best second division team they could be, looking to draw 6,000-8,000 fans per game and not overspending on big names. They might have been able to make it even with competition from NYCFC and the Red Bulls.

    Their lack of a stadium is another reason why they will not get into MLS, and it hurt them even in the NASL.

    • Yes, time to move on. The original Cosmos was from a different time (stating the obvious). Fortunately, we are beyond that and don’t need it any more.

      • As were Portland, Seattle & Montreal. Cosmos as a brand does have value worldwide. It’s a shame to see them disintegrate, but it’s not surprising considering how chaotically the current version of NASL is being run.

      • I agree that the Cosmos brand has value, and it would be cool to see them in MLS. But this vision of the Cosmos as a stand-alone global powerhouse that is bigger and better than anything else in the US is outdated.

    • Agreed 100%.

      I will add to it, though caution it doesn’t mean johnny99 agrees with me.

      I think too many fans loved the Cosmos for what they were, the team that was going to win it all. Most the time. Big deal, that isn’t a real fan. That is a guy in Seattle wearing a Barca jersey. Never been there, but when he goes, he will go see HIS team. He is proud HIS team wins all the time. IF his team didn’t win all the time, like

      Next step, the Red Bulls get a team in MLS, a team worth supporting, but they don’t win all the time and barely anyone supports. What happened to the 55k per game? No where to be found.
      Gonzo. Slight blip when NYCFC looked like they could be the next version.

      Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, way better, way better and close, probably better to the NASL go around. NY….way worse for number of fans. Dumb path to go down….again.

    • Why should MLS have the power to decide if the Cosmos could be a 3rd team in the league and have some other poor performing team get relegated? Their issue of not having a stadium is also due to MLS lobbying against the Cosmos with local politicians. MLS was doing this to prevent competition and also due to their continued efforts to help NYCFC get their stadium. Cosmos were much closer to getting their stadium but for those efforts. This is from a Red Bull’s fan who wants to see the sport grow. This is the work of MLS.

      • And what kind of position would the Cosmos be in right now if they had $200 million in stadium debt with no team to play in that stadium? They, and the community, would have been a lot worse off.

  9. Cosmos and the old NASL failed because they tried to live by the prevailing international league norms for soccer (football).

    Unfortunately IT DON’T WORK HERE. And will not work for many years to come so accept what we have and enjoy it.

  10. Not again!

    Like it or not the Cosmos brand means something outside the US. I have family in Brazil and the only US club team they’ve ever heard of is the NY Cosmos. They didn’t even know they didn’t play a competitive game for 25 years and would ask me during visits how their season was going.

    If we want MLS to be more global we need the Cosmos brand apart of it. The Cosmos previous ownership group was vehemently against the single-entity structure of MLS meaning franchises instead of independently owned clubs like in the rest of the world. Becoming part of MLS means MLS then owns the Cosmos brand and previous Cosmos owners didn’t want that. Maybe new ownership and MLS can work something out.

    Its about international TV right fellas. The Cosmos means something overseas and those eyeballs mean higher TV rights deals and more money eventually leading to higher salaries and more competitive play.

    • This is so wrong on so many levels. I get the Cosmos name has value, otherwise what would management be selling? Nothing.

      US Soccer will be fine without the Cosmos. Because your friends/relationships only know of the Cosmos means nothing to me. All it means is the Cosmos paid tons of money to players, won the championships because they paid tons of money to players, and failed. TWICE….and counting.

      • You seem overly eager to dance on the grave the only internationaly recognized socce brand the US has ever produced.

        You should realize Spain and England are not very large countries population wise but their leagues draw interest globally not just locally and nationally.

        MLS has a tough time getting ratings even among American soccer fans due to better leagues overseas competing for those viewship eyeballs. If we want MLS to get better we have to increase viewship both domestically and internationally.

        Throwing out our most recognized global brand is a short sighted moved. Better to find a way to use the Cosmos name recogniction to benefit the future of MLS and USSoccer say as you say ‘We can stop whining’.

      • Dance on the grave? No. I wish NASL was still going. I called it First division, I don’t believe it was ever second division.

        Because I think it is dumb the idea that US soccer needs the Cosmos I am dancing on a grave? No.

    • The Cosmos brand is a relic from a time when professional soccer in this country was nothing more than a flash in the pan of a spectacle that could never be sustained. It’s time for us to continue building something that will earn global recognition for the right reasons, not just for a one-trick pony/celebrity outfit. Maybe your family in Brazilian are looking up names like Carleton, Akinola, Sargeant, Weah, Acost, etc. to figure out who it was exactly that just thrashed their youth team yesterday.

      • I’m not merely talking about the results, Anthony. The talent that we have coming through is on a different level than previously seen in the US.

      • don Lamb is exactly right. Plenty of talent coming through and gets better not each generation, each year. I don’t really care if someone in Brazil doesn’t know my Sounders…they will.

        Am I supposed to panic?
        Am I supposed to need them to know right now?

        No. I don’t care if they ever do, even if the Sounders are the best team in the world, it is close to meaningless to US soccer for guys in Brazil to know this.

      • At Quit Whining, saying you dont care if people in other countries recognize the Sounders brand is again short sighted.

        Clubs like Man U, Barca, RM and Bayern definately care and are actively marketing their brands globally to generate more revenue they use to pay the high payrolls they do.

        You dont care but just fyi sveral of my Brazilian families follow and purchase gear from Man U and Real Madrid along with our beloved Corinthians.

        If we want to pay the type of players that will help MLS close the gap with European, South American, and Mexican leagues we have to bring in more fans.

        That said there are a lot more soccer eyeballs outside the US than inside. Market to them or MLS will always be small barely profitable league that cant win its own region.

      • Joe Dirt, you’re asking MLS to do what it is already doing. The league signed a ton of international TV deals and MLS matches are now broadcast all over the world. Signing players like Beckham, Drogba, Gerrard, and Pirlo has raised the profile of the league and individual clubs in those players’ home countries. Heck, Kris Boyd put the Timbers on the map for many fans in Scotland. Barros Schelotto made Columbus a familiar club for many of his fans in Argentina. As for MLS supporters, why should they care what Brazilians think of their league? Do Corinthians fans care about how famous their club is in the U.S.?

      • Joe Dirt,

        I realize that Man U and Barca has gone global, making huge money too. That is the type of soccer that failed here. Have the Cosmos win every year, and if your “club” can beat them once every ten years, you have a good weekend.

        Pass. Some want that, you seem to.

        It impacts me ZERO that a guy in Brazil doesn’t know about the Sounders. ZERO. I will go to the game, watch great soccer, go home. Still ZERO.

        It will happen, I couldn’t care less, but it will happen longer term, on a parity time frame, where the Sounders and a few others would already be there, but the rest of the league isn’t, but will be. American soccer is getting there.

    • So the only thing standing between MLS and a big international TV deal is having some team named Cosmos as part of the league? That is simply implausible. Anecdotes and memories of games and players from 30-40 years ago — especially from “fans” who don’t even realize that the Cosmos were on the shelf for 25 of those years — cannot form the basis of any rational strategy. Maybe — maybe — the solution is for the Cosmos name to somehow be affixed to an existing franchise. Perhaps Man City will get bored or disillusioned with NYCFC? Or the Red Bull brain trust in Austria will decide to put all its eggs in the Bundeslige basket? Otherwise, the Cosmos brand is just a name, associated with some legitimately wonderful memories. But memories are not present reaility.

      • Not saying that at all. Was thinking more along the lines of the second part of you comment. Lets find a way to use the Cosmos brand to help MLS.

        The Cosmos as a brand is still more recognizable overseas than other MLS teams with the possible exception of LAGalaxy. Just ask a few of youre international friends in the 30-50 age range and youll see. Younger than 30 obviously doesnt remember.

        EPL, Bundesliga, LaLiga, and LigaMX all are paid more lucrative tv rights deals by US networks. Those foreign leagues are marketing to US soccer eyeballs. Why arent we invading their markets also.

        Its competition and the Cosmos brand can only help. Just saying better to not throw the baby out with the bath water.

      • “The Cosmos as a brand is still more recognizable overseas than other MLS teams with the possible exception of LAGalaxy. Just ask a few of youre international friends in the 30-50 age range and youll see. Younger than 30 obviously doesnt remember.”

        Even assuming the validity of your point about the Cosmos being a more recognizable brand overseas, having that brand as part of MLS may make a very small difference, at best. You have to be at least 48 years old to have a memory of Cosmos 1.0. Those people remember the Cosmos as a fleeting story, not as part of a league. Skye TV is not going to pour money into a TV deal for MLS just because it has a club called Cosmos, because they know that as soon as their viewers realize that this is not the Cosmos they remember, they will instead focus on what’s important — the quality of the entire league.

    • Cosmos are done. After one failure it was a smudged brand MLS might have indulged if the franchise concept was turnkey and bulletproof enough. But being the league that has succeeded where NASL and Cosmos failed, why would they want the brand association for a twice failed team.

    • Seeing how BOTH Pele and Carlos Alberto played for the Cosmos as well as Beckenbauer, people all over world were familiar with the Cosmos. Watching them play in the 70s was sublime.

    • Joe D,

      I was reading an article elsewhere about the league on the verge of gone.

      It said that NASL linked its fate to the Cosmos. Which is probably very true.
      And it failed again, but somehow MLS is going to go international and shouldn’t throw away the Cosmos brand. Seems very suspect that the value is there.

      Plus someone owns that name, someone that may have lost $30 million. They will want MLS to pay for it. Maybe it is you!??! That would make a lot of sense actually, you are selling the heck out of this.

  11. And that closes the book on the NASL 2.0. the Indy 11 seems like a good franchise and could be a natural rival to Cincinnati in the USL. The USL could then divide again into 2 teams or the 2nd tier league might get crushed under its own weight. It will be interesting to see how USSF handles the ever changing economic realities of minor league sports. Look at the minor leagues for baseball and all of the lower tier leagues for hockey. it aint easy to control or keep a success.

    • I expect either a merger with USL where USL carries forward as the existing entity and NASL ceases to exist — if they aren’t horribly in debt — or if they are in horrifying debt MLS/USL let them fold and then pick the carcasses for players and teams they want.

      I think this spells the end to “Cosmos.” I don’t think MLS has any interest in the Cosmos brand like this. I think they were interested in a turnkey Cosmos that owned the IP and had a stadium ready but City got their team and that ship sailed. I don’t know why they’d save the Cosmos name when it’s folded twice. That’s not the symbolism the league needs. it’s done.

      The upcoming MLS/USL structure is basically single leagues of 20 or so teams each, deliberately set up with competitive and development levels. I not a pro rel fan but with the leagues still moderate size and basically intended to be compartmented like German II teams, it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

      • It’s a perfect opportunity for USL. The league can be very selective regarding which, if any, NASL teams to absorb. Indy should be at the top of the list for sure.

  12. Somewhere, in a dimly lit room, The Don chuckles softly while stroking a hairless cat…

    Seriously, this is what you get for managing a team completely detached from the realities of the American soccer landscape. They kept acting like Cosmos could write its own rules and play at a college field with 5,000 spectators.

    • …and sign international players. You can field a team for a bit as a vanity project. But you can’t start to spend big league money on minor league economics.

      And this goes beyond the Cosmos, you had other teams paying 6 figure transfer fees for minor league players playing in front of minor league crowds for minor league ticket prices. Unsustainable.

      • This. Exactly. Supposedly the Cosmos have lost $30 million the past four years. They went for broke, fielding a team mixed of Americans (Mendes, Szetela), younger international talent (Arrango, Mkosana) and aging legends (Marcos Senna, Raul). They put a quality team out there with one goal in mind: win the US Open Cup and earn a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League. Had they been able to do that they would have turned some heads. Instead, they failed to attract people to their matches due to poor stadium option and weak at-game experience, and just couldn’t sell enough hipster Cosmos merchandise to keep it going. Exactly right: major league ambitions, but minor league (and bottom of the minor league) economics. Winning a bunch of NASL Soccer Bowl trophies was really just a consolation prize.

  13. Wow. Such news is never good for American soccer. Hoping for the best for all involved, especially the fans. Most of us know what it’s like to lose your team.

    • This is great news. Maybe not for some of the individuals involved, but definitely so for the soccer pyramid in the US. Get this NASL crap out of the way. There are two other pro teams for those 3,500 fans to go watch, so they’ll be fine.

      • I am not sure why you describe as NASL being crap. NASL has the deck stacked against them by MLS with their closed system and their collusion with US Soccer which is controlled by MLS with Don Garber himself on the board of US Soccer along with other MLS officials. Having NASL fold and no change to closed system of MLS and not making US Soccer independent where they would truly make decisions to help soccer in the US as opposed to MLS is not good for US Soccer

      • Failure of a league or franchise is NEVER a good thing for the sport unless they are involved in illegal activities. Ideally, they would have negotiated a merger before it came to this. This is not good for optics on American Soccer.

      • Anthony — It’s a good thing when that league is run the way NASL was run. The good things from NASL (i.e. the stable clubs) will be much better off in a stable league and that league will be better for having them. Win-win for everyone. The only people who are not winning are those who ran this sucker into the ground.

      • Juan Carlos – NASL was the definition of a Mickey Mouse League. They tried to tell everyone otherwise, but in the end, we can all see that the league is a joke. Cosmos were the great hope of the “open” system. That didn’t get very far. Good thing we have other leagues that are growing and thriving as “closed.” Is that because they are manipulating the system, or is it just because they are being run well by smart people in a similar fashion to how other pro leagues have reached success in this country?

      • Juan Carlos – Your argument would be stronger IF this wasn’t the 2nd time this model has failed in the US. The 1st time didn’t have MLS as an excuse. Do I like everything about MLS? No. Do I like knowing that my team/league will be around next year? Yes.

      • MLS owes the NASL a great deal. Beyond the Timbers, Sounders, Cascadia cup and other obvious successes, etc… those of us who are old enough to have watched the original Strikers, Rowdies, and some other what I consider classic American clubs, owe OUR love and knowledge of the American soccer landscape to this league, which in its historic disfunctionality still seems quite authentic to me. This is not a question of nostalgia. Some (or many) people simply like the idea that their team has been around for a while. MLS is a young league that started as 10 brand new league-owned franchises with strange rules, still attempting to make the beautiful game adapt to its own rules and business strategy, and only now starting to understand what “club” means, albeit from a marketing point of view.

      • This is what I have been saying. While there are some clubs that did it correctly (eg TFC, Columbus). There are clubs who try to dump a new team in an area and talk up fake fandom. Like those moronic NYCFC fans who tried to act like wannabe hooligans and talk up a rivalry with Red Bulls. If I was a Red Bulls fan, I would really say that NYCFC mean nothing to me and it plastic; my real rival is DC.

        There is no reason why a meeting of the minds could not had between the parties (MLS, A League and NASL), but I feel that it is too late for Cosmos due to NYCFC. Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes were teams that were fan favorites

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