By Michael Lewis
Like many professional soccer teams, the Cosmos have hit the highest of highs, winning eight league championships and establishing themselves as a well-known world-wide brand.
On the other hand, they hit the lowest of lows on Jan. 30, 1985.
Only weeks prior I had been hired as the assistant desk chief at Westchester Rockland Newspapers in White Plains and I found myself with a night off and I ventured towards the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. to watch the Cosmos battle the San Diego Sockers.
Ha, some battle. The Sockers rolled to a 6-1 triumph over the Cosmos, who were embarrassed in more ways than one in front of 9,285 spectators in the Major Indoor Soccer League encounter.
There was plenty of controversy outside the locker room.
Jean Willrich pumped in four goals and Zungul added a goal and four assists. “I feel sorry for what’s happening to them,” said the Lord of All Indoors, Steve Zungul, who turned playmaker in that game. “I hope this team will find the best solution because this is the best market, and it would be a shame to lose this franchise.”
There was plenty of off-the-field drama as Cosmos managing director Peppe Pinton refused to allow Bergen Record writer Bob Kurland, who also was the president of the Professional Soccer Reporters Association, into the locker room. Kurland had written several stories about the Cosmos’ financial troubles that indicated the team may not finish the season.
“This is the man who ruined the franchise,” Pinton shouted. ”Get out of here. You don’t belong here. You’re a disgrace. Get out of here. You can write whatever you want. We’ll put people in here without you.”
Pinton reportedly berated other reporters in the locker room. “We don’t need any of you,” he said.
I wound up writing a short story for Soccer America about the president of PSRA not being allowed to enter the Cosmos locker room.
BTW, what Kurland reported wasn’t fake news.
Several weeks later, the Cosmos folded midway through the season, embarrassing Pinton, who took the franchise to yet another new low.
Later that year the Cosmos pulled the plug for good outdoors, at least until their 2013 reboot season.
What an embarrassing moment for the greatest team in North American Soccer League history.