By Michael Lewis
There’s no doubt as to where the Cosmos will compete next year. They’re just starting a little later than most of their fans would want.
The Cosmos confirmed Friday that they will kick off their participation in the National Independent Soccer Association with the league’s 2020 fall season.
No exact date has been finalized for the fall season, although it is tentatively scheduled to begin in early August, the team said.
“Our application into NISA was recently accepted by the league’s board of governors for the fall season 2020,” Cosmos acting Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover said in a statement. “We were not invited to apply to NISA until after the U.S. Soccer deadline for adding teams for the spring season had already passed, so applying for the fall 2020 season was our earliest opportunity to join NISA.”
In 2019, the Cosmos competed in the National Premier Soccer League and the NPSL Members Cup. They lost to Miami FC in the NPSL championship game and finished second to Detroit City FC in the Members Cup.
Leaving the NPSL did have one negative effect on the Cosmos. They lost their automatic qualification into the 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after finishing the NPSL season with the best regular season record and reaching the final. They had participated in the Open Cup from 2014 through 2019.
“We have always made the Open Cup a priority, but the timing of our exit from NPSL and entry into NISA forces us to have to sit out the tournament in 2020,” Stover said.
In some respects, this repeats some Cosmos history earlier this decade. On their return to competitive soccer in 2013, the club joined the North American Soccer League for its fall season. New York captured the fall season title and went on to win the 2013 Soccer Bowl, the first of three NASL championships in their reboot (2015 and 2016 were the others).
“Even though we won’t be participating in the Open Cup, there will still be plenty of work going on behind the scenes as we prepare for play in a fully professional league,” Stover said. “We plan on using this time to build a competitive team that adds to the rich history of success New York Cosmos fans have come to expect.”
While the team will return to competitive action in August, it will need a minimum of two months of preseason to prepare for the fall season.
There was no immediate information as to whether Carlos Mendes, who guided the Cosmos for the past two NPSL seasons, will return as head coach, and as to which players might be back.
The team has lost one player from last year’s team already. Queens, N.Y. resident David Diosa, a versatile midfielder who also can play up front and, in the back, signed with the Richmond Kickers of USL League One Tuesday.