Rocco Commisso saved the Cosmos for the 2017 and created some intriguing headlines himself. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
The man who righted the Cosmos ship made some major waves March 21, rocking the American soccer boat and then some.
Cosmos owner Rocco B. Commisso, in no particular order, took on promotion-relegation between leagues, Major League Soccer, the quality of soccer fan environment at Yankee Stadium, and the inability of the U.S. men to win at the World Cup through the years, among other topics.
In other words, he stole the show on Cosmos media day at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Demonstrating much swagger, the 66-year-old Commisso was not in the mood of building any bridges with the powers that be in U.S. soccer, but rather speaking his mind as the then two-time defending North American Soccer League champions introduced its kit sponsor and players.
“People in this industry know I have a lot of voice,” he said of his job as chairman and CEO of Mediacom Communications. “Even though I have a lot of voice, nobody has been able to shut me down at my age. Everyone else is gone, but I’m still around. So, I plan to do my bidding at the right time, to project my club, to protect my investment, to protect my players and everybody who works for the Cosmos.”
With the team on the brink of oblivion, Commisso saved the Cosmos. The owner of Mediacom, the fifth largest cable company in the United States, Commisso purchased a majority stake in the team from Sela Sports and Seamus O’Brien.
“We have found our savior, a savior for the club,” Chief Operating Office Erik Stover said.
Added Commisso: “I don’t go in to fail. I go in to succeed.”
In 2017, the Cosmos moved from Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. on Long Island to MCU Park, a minor-league baseball stadium, in Coney Island in Brooklyn.
The team struggled to find itself in the spring season, but found enough momentum to qualify for the playoffs, The Championship, on the final day of the fall season. New York stunned regular-season champion Miami FC, in the semifinals, winning a shootout, before falling to the host San Francisco Deltas in the final, 2-0.
To say Commisso is controversial would be saying the sky is blue.
His critics felt he was full of bluster.
His supporters felt he was fighting the good fight.
During media day March 21, Commisso criticized the World Cup history of the U.S. men’s national team.
“The peak of American soccer in America was not today. It was 1930. the only time when America made it to the semifinals of the World Cup,” he said. “Does anybody know that? Here we are, 80 years later and we still haven’t had a team, a professional team, a professional national team that could say, ‘we’re in the top 10, top five.’ I mean, what kind of crap is that?
“We have all these little kids, all these parents running around trying to do their best to make sure their kids either become soccer players or get scholarships to one of the big schools, right? Today, we do not have a national team that I am proud of and given who America is. Why do we have a semifinalist in 1930 and nothing since?
“I can go into a lot of stuff and I’m going to talk about but not today. There are a lot of people out there who still want to shut me down.
When the NASL did not receive Division Two status from the USSF Sept. 1, Commisso, as NASL chairman, took on the federation.
“I invested in the New York Cosmos eight months ago with the expectation that the United States Soccer Federation would allow us to play at the Division 2 level long enough for me to work with the NASL’s leadership to strengthen and grow our league,” Commisso said Sept. 7. “I am, there, shocked by the USSF’s withdrawal of Division 2 sanctioning beyond the 2017 season. That decision is, in my view, completely arbitrary and unfair, particularly since the NASL is making progress in developing and implementing plans to grow the league and enhance its stability.”
Whether Commisso will have a second year running the team, it remains to be seen.
The NASL is awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to obtain a preliminary injunction against the USSF, which rescinded its Division II status.
It could come this week.
The league wants to overturn a ruling by Judge Margo K. Brodie in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in November, so it could continue as a Division II league in 2018.
If not, the league is expected to shut down.
Thursday: Story No. 2