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Senna the Difference for Cosmos in Final

Photo Credit: Joe Foughty/

You couldn’t have written a better ending than a Marcos Senna golazo in the 50th minute as the New York Cosmos defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0 in the 2013 NASL Soccer Bowl.

It was certainly fitting, considering the Cosmos tradition of employing international superstars.  No, Senna is not Pelé or even Beckenbauer, but it can be argued that the former Spanish international and Villarreal CF legend is the top player in America outside of MLS.

“It’s an exciting day for sure, the New York Cosmos are back,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese. “I’m very proud of the players because they accomplished great things. Tonight, winning a championship and bringing a championship back to New York is a proud moment for us.”

The Silverbacks were a constant threat in the first half, having a strong home crowd to give their side loads of support.  The Cosmos supporters also traveled in number, coming down to Atlanta on several coaches.  The away supporters employed smoke, flares, drums, streamers, and even fireworks to show they cared about their beloved Cosmos, providing them with a clear mental boost.

The first half was physical, at times chippy, but there was nothing on the scoreboard at the half.  The Cosmos had the better 2nd half, starting with the quick goal from Senna that was set up by the continued brilliance of Ayoze.

The crowd never let up even though the home fans had to know going a goal down to the Cosmos was not a good thing.  The Silverbacks continued to battle against a very good New York team.

Overall it was a night of great goalkeeping and one great goal. Atlanta keeper Joe Nasco was simply electric, making one great save after another.  He kept his team in the match until the final whistle.

His counterpart, 2013 NASL Golden Glove winner Kyle Reynish, got the job done when called upon, but he was far less active thanks to a staunch defense led by former Crew and Red Bull defender Carlos Mendes.

“We didn’t really know each other, and then coming together and winning a championship, that’s what it’s all about,” said Mendes. “For us, this is what you play for. Hopefully we’ll write a new future now and continue to win championships.”

The game proved to be a showcase for the league as a whole and was truly a marketing dream come true.  The league office had to be drooling over having a Cosmos team in the final and the match did set a new attendance record for the NASL Soccer Bowl since the NASL returned in 2011.  Keep in mind the Cosmos could very well be even more dominant next season when they actually play a full season.

Photo Credit: Joe Foughty/

The storyline was great for writers and fans alike.  One of the world’s most renowned brands taking on the Atlanta Silverbacks, a team full of interesting back stories.  Silverbacks Technical Director Eric Wynalda often talked of players discovered parking cars at a hotel, driving limousines, or playing shoeless at a local park.  Simply put, the Silverbacks had a mountain to climb, playing the giant role of the underdog.

Yes, many talked about a David and Goliath theme for the game, but that tends to be overplayed and gets old really quick. Especially, when Goliath is a very likeable and friendly character like the players of the Cosmos.

The happiest moment of the match was the raising of the trophy for the Cosmos, a team that almost disappeared from soccer entirely.  One man, former owner Peppe Pinton, kept the team and the dream alive, waiting for a day and a game like this.

“I have accomplished what I set forth to do a quarter century ago, to put the Cosmos back on the playing field,” Pinton concluded. “The only sadness is that Giorgio (Chinaglia) is not here to witness it.”

The legendary Lazio striker would have been very proud to see this indeed.  It was a special game on a special night, an occasion that was so many years in the making.

Match Photos

Curator of the Cosmos: A Conversation with G. Peppe Pinton

This is the story that started it all.  Our first feature brought a great deal of attention to International Soccer Network, which has grown leaps and bounds since that day thanks in part to Mr. Pinton and his beloved Cosmos. 

What happens when you gather all of the world’s greatest players and assemble them on the pitch? You have the greatest team that ever played soccer here in America: the New York Cosmos. The Cosmos roster looked more like the Soccer Hall of Fame than a professional club. Pelé, Chinaglia, Beckenbauer, Alberto, and Bogicevic are just a few members of this “dream team” of international soccer.

We recently had the privilege to speak with one of the key figures in the Cosmos organization. G. Peppe Pinton’s official title is President and CEO of the Cosmos Soccer Club, Inc. However, Pinton is so much more than that. He has been there for the biggest moments in American soccer. He has forged friendships with the world’s greatest players. Pinton has been an executive, a coach, a soccer ambassador, and most importantly the caretaker of the Cosmos legacy.

Pinton shared some great moments from America’s first major soccer league, the North American Soccer League (NASL). There were many special moments and spectacular events. In reality, he had fond memories of Pelé’s first game at Giants Stadium. Pinton described this as “the beginning of something beautiful”. The excitement didn’t stop in New York; it continued to Seattle and Tampa Bay and then the world.

Pinton has to be the best source for the history of the New York Cosmos. He has faithfully defended the Cosmos brand for over two decades. He made it clear that the Cosmos were not to blame for the collapse of the NASL as many have suggested. To the contrary, they served as pioneers that paved the way for soccer in America. Pelé, Giorgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbauer, and the many other stars actually made it possible for David Beckham to come to Major League Soccer (MLS). Without the star cast of the Cosmos, millions of American kids would not have been inspired to play soccer here. Anyone from age 30-100 will remember the Cosmos with great enthusiasm. This affection is held by many worldwide as New York became the 2nd team of every soccer fan.

The Beckham signing brought much excitement to MLS. It also took the focus back to the many memories of the New York Cosmos. Pinton thought this move was “absolutely a good thing for the league,” but was quick to turn away comparisons to his team. His words are very clear: “Beckham is not Pele. The Galaxy are not the Cosmos.” There is much support for this comment considering Chinaglia and Beckenbauer came to the NASL in their prime. Many believe that Beckham’s best years are behind him. The Cosmos signed the best the world had to offer, creating the “dream team of soccer in the world”. New York was clearly ahead of its time and was indeed responsible for the globalization of soccer teams. They were able to field a diverse team with players from many nations. This team quickly became the envy of the world; Cosmos fever caught the attention of casual and hardcore fans alike. Pinton appreciates what MLS has done, but the achievements of the NASL and the Cosmos must not ignored. The media kept referring back to the Cosmos when David Beckham was signed. There is this longing for something better, a sense of nostalgia for a league that had achieved greatness.

The NASL looked like a league that would last forever. Pinton recalls the record crowds in 1976 and 1977. He spoke about the importance of the ABC television contract and recalled the front page headlines in The New York Times. Enthusiasm, excitement, and pride could be found throughout the league. Then everything came tumbling down and eventually the league ceased to exist at all. Pinton helped pick up the pieces and keep the Cosmos organization alive. He points out that “the Cosmos never ceased to be an entity”. He has guarded that legacy and tradition for over 20 years.

What could have saved the league from disaster? There is one simple answer: the 1986 FIFA World Cup. Pinton believed that the World Cup should have come to America when the league was still alive. It was very ironic that the World Cup would come here in 1990 in the absence of a professional soccer league.

The Cup could have been “a bailout” that would have saved the NASL. The money and commitment were already there, but the desire and drive of the fans was waning. A successful World Cup here in the states would equal survival for the league. That obviously didn’t happen. Pinton remembers this as a terrible disappointment, ” a total slap in the face” for all those involved in American soccer.

Pinton’s friendship with Giorgio Chinaglia is well-documented. Pinton stated that he had a “marvelous, marvelous life in soccer here and in Europe” because of Chinaglia, who was a true star on this “dream team”. Chinaglia was popular on and off the field for many reasons. He showed dedication and commitment, embraced the media, spoke the language of soccer, and most importantly, scored goals. His attitude was simple: I play for you; I put the ball in the net. This went a long way with American fans as they wanted to see high-scoring, exciting games. It is hard to argue with Pinton’s suggestion that players like Chinaglia don’t exist anymore. Chinaglia struck the ball with such power and often with a single touch. He punished goalkeepers after evading two and sometimes three defenders. He was an impressive physical specimen, but also possessed superior intelligence. Chinaglia proved to be one of the finest players to ever play here in America.

The most important observation that came from this discussion is the need for the Cosmos to emerge once again. MLS got a spark from the Beckham signing; the league could see an explosion of popularity with the return of the Cosmos. There have been numerous stories about a second team coming to New York City. According to Pinton, this team could and should be the Cosmos. “Why not the Cosmos?” is the rallying cry heard by so many. It is a proven brand, one that brings back a sense of tradition and excellence. Pinton suggests that the Cosmos are even more recognized than David Beckham. Imagine the stories and television coverage that would come from the re-emergence of the Cosmos. ESPN reported that 1,468,000 people tuned in to see David Beckham’s first appearance with the L.A. Galaxy. A new Cosmos team could easily bring in two to three times that amount. Why you might ask? The Cosmos represent the best that American soccer could offer, a happier time when players competed for the right reasons and the game had a feeling of purity. So many people remember the Cosmos; many would be willing to buy a ticket, tune in to a game, or purchase merchandise. MLS has done little to remember the Cosmos and the NASL. Now is the time to embrace the legacy of the soccer world and to glorify the greatest team we have ever known: the New York Cosmos.

No one wants to see the failure of Major League Soccer. These are difficult times, which require difficult decisions. Bringing back the Cosmos is not difficult, but it may be necessary to save the league and American soccer as we know it.

The Cosmos Reborn: A New Perspective

Soccer in North America has never been bigger than the New York Cosmos.  The legacy left behind by the legendary club has proved to be a milestone not yet reached by Major League Soccer.  However, the two now appear to be on the same path as the Cosmos recently announced their return.

What was been missing from the discussion is the man that kept the Cosmos brand alive for over 25 years.  G. Peppe Pinton, also known as “The Curator of the Cosmos,” had owned the club since the demise of the NASL in 1985.  Pinton recently agreed to sell the franchise to Paul Kemsley, a former official with Tottenham Hotspur, who has a plan to resurrect the Cosmos and join MLS in 2013 as the league’s 20th club.  It seems like a likely proposition as the league office is highly supportive of a second MLS team in NYC. 

“Regarding the Cosmos, Major League Soccer executives have met informally with the Cosmos leadership and we are intrigued by their plans,” Major League Soccer’s Dan Courtemanche stated. “In fact, Commissioner Garber met with them at the recent USA vs. Brazil match where Pele was also in attendance. However, at this point there are no formal discussions taking place that involve tangible next steps.”

Many former players, including former USMNT captain Marcelo Gallardo, share the league’s interest in a second New York team.  “It would be absolutely spectacular, the rivalry would be fantastic.  But it needs to be an owner and a team that is willing to spend. ” Gallardo pointed out the hundreds of millions invested in Red Bull Arena and the recent signing of Designated Players Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez. 

The group led by Kemsley sure seems to have the resources, the notoriety, and the personnel to make the Cosmos live again in a spectacular way.  Keep in mind they have Pele as their honorary president and David Beckham confidant Terry Byrne in their front office.  Two proven commodities and Mr. Pinton is just a phone call away.  It is rare to have the advice of someone who was with the Cosmos in its spectacular heights and stuck with the organization through the devastating lows.    

It is important to know that none of this would have been possible without Pinton’s work.  He has kept the Cosmos brand in the news and carefully protected the franchise’s history over the years.  The sale of the Cosmos was a major moment of redemption for him.  “I have been vindicated by this particular result. It is the answer to the people who believed in me,” Pinton explained.

Pinton, the longest-tenured member of the Cosmos organization, was quick to point out his motivation to sell the franchise after so many years.  “It was about finding the right leader to continue the legacy of the Cosmos, started by a man I adore, Steve Ross.”

Someone with less vision and passion would have sold the club to the highest bidder, but Pinton waited for the right moment and the right person.  “I found the energy, passion, love, commitment, and resources. A soccer man, who is passionate about the sport and passionate about the Cosmos,” Pinton explained when talking about the man known to friends simply as “PK”.

Pinton continued, “It is a new energy, but the same legacy, the same brand.”

The brand known as the New York Cosmos last took the field in 1991 in a reunion match, designed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the birth of the Cosmos, at Giants Stadium.  Many people, including Vladislav “Bogie” Bogicevic, were moved by such a display.  Bogie’s thoughts were eloquent enough to make up the final lines of Gavin Newsham’s Once in a Lifetime: The Incredible Story of the New York Cosmos.    

“This was being home again, born again. So many memories, so many great memories. You just try to think about what happened, sometimes, and I feel I think I should almost cry. People cheering, the national anthem, players, fans. Who knows, maybe one day it will come again. Maybe.”

We shall soon see.