By Michael Lewis
The Cosmos are going into hiatus.
Citing it was a “difficult decision, he National Independent Soccer Association club announced Friday morning that it won’t compete this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement, made over twitter, did not say when the Cosmos would return.
The NISA is split into two seasons, spring and fall.
Thank you and stay safe, Cosmos Country. pic.twitter.com/GiyNdH6DXN
— New York Cosmos (@NYCosmos) January 29, 2021
In a statement released on Twitter, the Cosmos statement read:
“The New York Cosmos have made the difficult decision to pause team operations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“During this hiatus, the club plans to continue working with the National Independent Soccer Association in its quest to grow quality, merit-based independent soccer in the United States.
“We are grateful to our fans for their longstanding support and loyalty. They have always been the lifeblood of the Cosmos organization, and the matches we played last season were not the same without them.
“As we continue to navigate through this unprecedented global health crisis, we look forward with optimism and hope for our supporters, our organization, and our sport in the United States.”
By not playing could start a mass exodus of players from the Cosmos.
One player already has joined another team as striker Bledi Bardic recently signed with rival New Amsterdam FC, which was a 2020 NISA expansion team.
Center back Matt Lewis is playing with the Kansas City Comets in the Major Arena Soccer League for the second consecutive winter, but he had decided to play indoor soccer well before the Cosmos’ decision. Lewis said he was considering several options, including Detroit City FC, a team he trained and played with last spring.
The Cosmos are owned by Rocco B. Commisso, who bought Fiorentina in Italy’s Serie A in 2019. Since then, Commisso has put much energy, time and money toward that team.
New York is coming off the poorest season in team history, finishing at 1-3-6 over three competitions in a NISA campaign cut short by the pandemic. The Cosmos scored 11 goals, conceding 13.
On Sept. 29, a day after the Cosmos were eliminated from the NISA Fall Tournament, Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover expressed the club’s dissatisfaction with the team’s performance.
“This was a very disappointing fall season,” he said. “We didn’t live up to our expectations and the expectations of the fans and we will have to make some changes in preparation for the spring season.”
Stover did not say what specific changes that might be made or talk about the future of head coach Carlos Mendes, who has directed the team for the past three years.
The Cosmos have enjoyed a storied history, winning eight NASL titles, three after their reboot in 2013. A level of excellence is expected by the team, players, coaches and fans. Anything less than a championship is considered failure.
Many supporters might consider not competing a failure as well.