With no MLS, Cosmos to map future

New York CosmosWith MLB Commissioner Don Garber making it abundantly clear that MLS has no interest in a third New York City-area team, New York Cosmos owners are facing a business future based on NASL membership.

In a meeting with AP sports editors, Garber left nothing to the imagination: “There are not going to be three teams in the NY market.” Grammar aside, the statement means Red Bull New York and New York City FC have control of the largest American media market. Now, you can argue the Cosmos’ plan for a move to MLS was a long shot in the first place and you can fault MLS for how its officials deal with the Cosmos’ overtures for a future MLS team. And you can even argue that MLS would benefit from a Long Island team.

But there’s more at stake here, really. Empire of Soccer sees this in Euro-centric terms, writing off the Cosmos as a second-division team and dismissing its prospects in the NASL by arguing that minor-league soccer can’t exist and thrive. We’re not sure. Now, it’s true that European pro soccer has a definite class structure, with second-division teams rewarded financially by moving up in status.

But this is America, and both U.S. and Canadian sports fans are accustomed to a major league/minor league structure in baseball and hockey. Triple-A baseball and AHL hockey are both thriving in the United States and Canada, with franchise valuations and revenues rising steadily. There’s no reason to think that model won’t work with American soccer, with a system emerging someday that reflects MLS as the major league as the NASL and USL Pro leagues serving as feeder/development systems — a model we’re seeing with the USL already.

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