The sport of soccer have a long tradition in New York City, beginning in 1910 with the first iteration of the American Soccer League. From those early days you had a number of teams competing and going back to that very first World Cup, USA picked up a bronze winners medal.
The 1930 group had a great number of players based in the city and representing New York Giants and New York Nationals, the two clubs had a total of six players in the squad and yes it was the same people that ran the Giants of baseball that had seen a possible chance to bring soccer to the masses at these time as well.
The first attempt to start professional soccer in the US goes as far back as 1894, and as we have seen a group of these pioneers were often from New York as it is a city with a long tradition for playing soccer.
The youth soccer leagues of New York has been around since that period of time, mentioning Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League as the one still remaining. New York is so large that you have several area organisations building their own federations just to keep this sport growing.
Going down memory lane you have a number of clubs competing with New York Thistles as the first major team that competed from 1880 to 1906. They played other local clubs in the area, Brooklyn Longfellows and New York Caledonians, was two other traditional clubs.
From the early 1920’s into the 1950’s new clubs were founded with teams such as New York Hakoah and New York Brookhattan. Joe Gaetjens the goalscorer in that 1-0 defeat of England in the 1950 World Cup represented Brookhattan. You also had another player from New York in the squad, Joe Maca playing for Brooklyn Hispano. New York Americans was another club all being part of the New York settlement of soccer.
By the time NASL was established in the late 60’s you had new clubs being formed with New York Skyliners and New York Generals both taking part of the action , though it was short lived. A number of cups and different competitions were held as championships with Brooklyn Italians seen as winners, and still is a club in the area of New York.
The hype of the NASL will for always be part of US soccer history, but the fact that this league bended rules and regulations started with a change in the offside rule and also adding the shoot out competition to avoid games to end as draws, which in a way was against the normal part of US sports, to always decide a winner.
New York Cosmos emerged as Skyliners and Generals fell for financial reasons and with Warner Brothers in the back “Cosmos” managed to set the NASL and US soccer on the World map. The problem was that players were imported in masses and the US soccer talents never really became the best players and stars of this league, which probably was a key reason that it all went up in smoke by the year of 1984.
“Cosmos” imported stars of the past. Franz Beckenbauer, Pele, Carlos Alberto, Johan Neeskens and Georgio Chinaglia all joined and of course contributed to the quality rise and popularity. A number of more unknown players also managed to dig out a life as professionals alongside these huge superstars and the line-up’s are fascinating reading.
New York Cosmos had their stars of World football, but alongside those players mentioned above you had numbers coming in from the UK such as Sheffield United trio Keith Eddy, Tony Field and Terry Garbett, former N Ireland international and well travelled defender Dave Clement, as well as Charlie Aitken and Steve Hunt from Aston Villa. Aitken on his swan days of soccer, Hunt a young up and coming player that later represented England at full international level. You also had Belgian and later West Ham forward Francois Van der Elst there and of course not to forget Dennis Tueart who moved to “Cosmos” in between two periods with Man City.
“Cosmos” grew in popularity and had at some stage during the late 70’s an avarage of 40 000 on home games and played at The Yankee Stadium, which of course made this huge sports events and happenings as great stars moved in and took part.
Today you have New York City and New York RB in the MLS with Rochester also inside the state starting up as the Rhinos again in 2022, and you had the Lancers of the NASL era, and still have that team around in the third tier NISA league today known as Flower City Union. So the soccer is much alive in the state and other cities as well. Jamie Vardy of Leicester City is involved on the owners side of the new Rhinos.
New York Cosmos do still exist also in the modern era starting up again in 2010, competing in the new NASL that had a status as the number two league behind the MLS. Today they are found in the third tier. NISA as wel, and hopefully they will keep on going as the name and club have a legacy few can copy. The most winning team in the history of US Soccer, today you can say that the name, and a kits are what is left as a reminder of those great days 40 years ago. In the NISA you also have other New York based clubs such as New Amsterdam FC and New Jersey Teamsterz. Westchester Flames is also a club to notice, being around since 1999 and competing professionally at level four.
The Amateur Soccer of New York City does have a great number of clubs as the movement of this game continue to grow. Manhattan SC, which is said to be the largest club with most members in the state of New York, the upbringing of soccer players will probably continue as a base for this sport to grow.
We have seen a number great players moving to New York to play, and of course the men of Cosmos is well documented as we have seen Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard playing for New York City, Leeds flank midfielder Jack Harrison also reprsented the club a few years back. Thierry Henry representing New York Red Bulls, Cesar Louis Menotti, mostly known for being the Argentinian coach winning the 1978 World Cup, played for New York Generals.
Today and in the present season coming up, New York City will have Maxi Moralez in their team, probably the most notable today, too mention also another Argentinian, the forward Valentin Castellanos, a player of great importance to the team scoring vital goals.
For the Red Bulls you have Sean Davies who might stand out as one to notice, the midfielder is of great importance to the team, not really having any players with a great past instead building on younger players and from there build a better team. Also mentioning Cristian Casseres Jr. playing at full international level for Venezuela.