The New York Cosmos announced today that two players have agreed to contract terms with the team: forward Jemal Johnson and defender Chris Rodd. The Cosmos also hired their full-time fitness coach, Simone Lucchesi.
Johnson, 28, is a nine-year professional who began his career with Blackburn Rovers of the English Premier League, before playing for European clubs such as Wolverhampton Wanderers and Lokomotiv Sofia. The 5’9” forward from Paterson, NJ, currently plays for the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Johnson’s contract with Ft. Lauderdale is due to expire at the end of the NASL spring season and he has agreed to terms with the Cosmos for the 2013 NASL fall season.
“Jemal is very good in 1-vs-1 situations and has a great shot from distance that has led him to score some great goals in his career,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “Combined with his years of professional experience and exceptional speed up front, he should add an exciting element to our attack.”
Rodd, 28, is a defender from Fremont, CA who last played his professional soccer for Bryne FK in Norway. Rodd underwent a trial with England’s Sheffield United in 2009 before retiring early due to injury. After spending some time away from the game rehabbing his injury, Rodd is returning to American soccer, just as the Cosmos are.
“Chris is a very strong, imposing central defender who brings a work ethic that is expected out of every Cosmos player,” Savarese said. “His game has all the intangibles that give us a great choice in the back.”
Lucchesi has spent the last 14 years working with some of Italy’s top soccer clubs, including Lazio, former home of the late Cosmos legend Giorgio Chinaglia, Lecce of Serie B and most recently Sampdoria of Serie A, where he was the joint head fitness coach.
The team will also release single-game tickets on sale for their home opener at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium. Tickets go on sale on Monday, June 10 at 10 a.m. ET via www.nycosmos.com and are also available by calling 855-71-COSMOS. Individual tickets start as low as $15. The Cosmos will face their historic rivals, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the opener on Aug. 3. Prior to kickoff, the Cosmos will honor legends from their past in a special on-field ceremony.