The New York Cosmos: The original Galacticos? Part 2

Continued from Part 1:

Pele had retired in 1974, finishing his career at his beloved Santos. He was 34 years old and had a record that will be near impossible to surpass – playing 1120 times for his club, scoring an amazing 1087 goals – not to mention 92 appearances for Brazil and 77 goals. Pele was undoubtedly the finest football player ever and at the time the most famous on the planet. No wonder the Cosmos wanted him. In 1974 they got him, selling him the dream of what he could do to football in America. He turned his back on Europe and started a revolution.  Aged 34 he signed a 3 year contract for the Cosmos, making him the world’s highest salaried athlete.

His effect was instantaneous: his first game was televised in 22 countries, an amazing feat for a football match in general, and especially an American one. Within a year the average attendance for a Cosmos game was 10,000 – not a lot by today’s standards, the equivalent to an average Championship game, but remarkable when you consider the attendances were generally around 50 people before his arrival.

But Ross didn’t want to stop there. He saw the potential in replicating the success of Pele and went on to sign Italian international Giorgio Chinaglia, then World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer, then Brazilian Carlos Alberto among others. It wasn’t just the team and the players that were special; the setting added to the glamour too. New York was one of the greatest cities on earth, and all the biggest and coolest players would hang out at truly iconic venues like ‘Studio 54’ and mix with the Hollywood A-list. There were stories abound of Pele and Beckenbauer hanging out with celebs and larking around on the dance floor having the times of their lives.

The NY Cosmos heralded a glamour period in US football history. They were not an unbeatable, unplayable team, but they did well, winning 2 out of 3 league titles whilst Pele was in the team. It was the effect on American soccer that was their greatest achievement though. By the time Pele finished playing the average attendance was over 45,000 for each game. Great English players had been lured out there, Bobby Moore and George Best being the most high profile. Even Rodney Marsh was there.

But the bubble couldn’t last forever, TV money ran out and the league was hit with a money crisis, the Cosmos couldn’t hold the league up on its own, and in 1984 the New York Cosmos along with the whole of the NASL disbanded.

The MLS was formed in 1993 before the impending World Cup was due to hit the shores of the USA in 1994. The New York Cosmos name remained a relic and is not currently part of the MLS, but that could all change …

This entry was posted in Feature Articles. Bookmark the permalink.
Follow us now on Facebook and Twitter for exclusive content and rewards!

We want to hear what you have to say, but we don't want comments that are homophobic, racist, sexist, don't relate to the article, or are overly offensive. They're not nice.

  1. Sam the man says:

    Pele was unbelievable, I didn’t realise that was his record – no player today will get near that, truly a legend of the game and a gentleman. Imagine New York back then, would have been rocking…just wonder if goldmember was there as well. I love goooooooooooollllllllllddddddddddddddd

  2. Emma Hughes says:

    Good reference to Gold, I love it and so do the men down the shopping centre – all they want to do is buy your old Elizabeth Duke. Pele is god, not Maradona – much better record.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>