With a redesigned Web site – apparently an homage to pointy buildings and key lime pie – the New York Cosmos have announced their squad for the Paul Scholes testimonial against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Aug. 5th. And for those who were expecting the best of the best from around the world, as the likes of Pele and Cantona could surely attract, there might be a slight taste of disappointment. But for those who have come to realize that the new New York Cosmos will be a far more practical side than the original club, the eclectic 17-man selection will make a little more sense.
Let’s start with American international and Fulham legend Brian McBride at one end and fellow American international and Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel at the other. Not quite the best two American players in the game, but both have certainly earned their place. On defense, the Cosmos compilation will have a few more familiar albeit aged faces: Gary Neville, Fabio Cannavaro, Sol Campbell, and Michel Salgado. In midfield, perennial bridesmaid Nicky Butt will join Patrick Vieira, the man who set the bar for defensive midfielders. And Robbie Keane will join McBride for the dual locomotive attack up top.
But wait, that’s only nine players, right? Well, in fairness, this is Paul Scholes testimonial match, so it’s only a matter of time before Manchester United are down to 10 men themselves.
Fear not, my friends, for the rest of the roster comes from the Cosmos Academy and PDL team. In fact, rather than considering this a team of world all-stars, as was originally announced, you might want to think of this as a heavily enriched Cosmos U23 team – half kids and half veterans of the game.
Now I imagine every Red Bulls fan just felt their left testicle implode while reading that, as they fervently argue that the Cosmos don’t even have a team. But I’ve seen most of these Cosmos U23 kids play, and they’ve got plenty of potential.
For example, one of the young players to be featured will be my man Moriken Sangary, who caught my eye back when the Cosmos Academy East’s U18 squad played their first match last fall. He is fast, talented, and fearless. It’ll take both the Da Silva brothers to control him coming down the left flank.
Another Cosmos PDL player to watch is central defender Yanik Reyering. We were making fun of this big boy at a recent match because he was sporting a Loverboy-like headband. However, once the whistle blew, we stopped laughing and started applauding. You rarely find such a disciplined defender at that age.
It’ll be hard for Marvin Iraheta to shine as a defensive midfielder with the likes of Vieira on the roster, but the kid shows a lot of promise. Also look for former Chicago Fire player and current Cosmos U23 captain Stefan Dimitrov to reconnect with McBride up top.
Other Cosmos Academy players on the roster include the tall and pacey Ibrahim Diaby, vocal midfielder Dane Murphy, and David Diosa – who scored the Cosmos first goal in 25 years. All of them will be backed by Chad Calderone, a promising young keeper.
While I’d like to see a good game, I kind of hope that none of the Cosmos U23 players will shine too brightly. There will be a lot of eyeballs on them, and should another club swoop in with an offer, it would be hard for any of them to turn that down – compared to the uncertain future offered by the Cosmos, with their earliest hope of joining MLS now targeted for 2014.
For a more in-depth look at the team being fielded by the Cosmos, visit their new pointy buildings shrouded in key lime smog Web site. And if you aren’t jetting over to Manchester (a lovely town, according to Carlos Tevez) to see the game at Old Trafford, then be sure to join the Borough Boys – the New York Cosmos supporters club – for their New York City viewing party at Legends Bar in midtown (33rd Street between Fifth & Sixth Aves). Kick-off is at 2:30 PM Eastern on Aug. 5th.