The Cosmos played against the Cuba national team on the Caribbean island in 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
The Cosmos certainly are going international this summer.
The two-time defending North American Soccer League champions will play at least a pair of international friendlies far away from home.
They will visit Al-Hilal FC in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Saturday, May 20.
The announcement came about an honor after the club said it would play Valencia FC in Regina, Canada Saturday, July 22.
The Cosmos accepted an invitation from the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia to play that friendly encounter at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. This will be the 48th country the Cosmos will play in since they started playing pro soccer in 1971.
The timing of the Cosmos match coincides with President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his first international trip since taking office.
“We are honored to accept this gracious invitation and delighted to play in this match against Al-Hilal sponsored by the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia,” Cosmos chairman Rocco B. Commisso said in a statement. “By participating in this momentous event, we continue our club’s tradition of traveling across the globe to promote soccer, unity and friendship. This is more than simply a game. It’s a significant opportunity for the New York Cosmos to once again make history.”
Shortly after the U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Cosmos were the first U.S. sports team to visit Havana in 16 years when they played the Cuban national team in June 2015.
Formed in 1957, Al-Hilal FC is the reigning champion of the Saudi Professional League and the most successful team in league history with 14 titles. The organization holds six trophies in various Asian cups and eight Arab championships.
“Our club has had the good fortune to represent the United States during many memorable international matches,” said Cosmos head coach and sporting director Giovanni Savarese said in a press release. “It is our hope that this historic visit to Saudi Arabia will unite people through the beautiful game of soccer.”
Due to the Saudi Arabia match, the Cosmos were forced to re-arrange their home schedule at MCU Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn a bit.
They moved the Sunday, May 21 home game against FC Edmonton to June 7 and pushed the North Carolina FC encounter from June 9 to 10.