New York Cosmos continue to spend as club’s return draws closer, but money won’t buy fans

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With the fall season of the North American Soccer League kicking off in early August, the New York Cosmos headed overseas on Thursday, arriving in London for a preseason camp. Matches against Leyton Orient on July 24 and Watford on July 27 loom as the club’s “Remember Us?” campaign nears its moment of truth.

After signing a group of players with something to prove — most of them having been overlooked for much of their professional careers — preparations for the Cosmos’ reboot are well under way. Without a salary cap standing in its way, New York has as much money as its directors are willing to spend to ensure the club’s return is a success.

So far, the Cosmos have signed Marcos Senna from Villarreal, hired former New York Red Bulls managing director Erik Stover as chief operating officer and secured Pelé as the club’s honorary president and Eric Cantona as the director of soccer. (What either of the latter two does in practice for the club will likely be minimal.)

[ Further reading: Believe it when you see it: New York Cosmos propose $400 milllion stadium ]

Every possible angle has been covered to ensure the Cosmos will receive positive press, including offering a shuttle between the nearest train station and Hofstra University, the club’s home, on game days. What remains to be seen is how the fan base and American soccer community at large will respond.

For now, branding is all the club has, along with its history as the most successful club in a league that it bankrupted in the 1970s and ’80s. Expect immense pressure to perform on its modest roster, which includes former U.S. international Danny Szetela, who hasn’t played since 2010, and Peri Marošević, who landed in the Croatian second division after a forgettable three-year MLS career.

[ Further reading: Three Good Questions for: Cosmos CEO Seamus O’Brien ]

The New York Cosmos experiment is not quite on the scale of David Beckham’s signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy, but it does suggest certain hubris about the club that has not existed in over 30 years, believing it can pick up the role of America’s sweetheart that it left behind.

The most expensive single-match tickets for a Cosmos game cost $95, nearly five times as expensive as some clubs’. That kind of valuation could leave the club scrambling if it fails to fill seats in its first half-season back from the dead.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls sit near the top of the Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer. Right now, the Cosmos have nothing on the club a division higher and with more momentum — both play outside of the city, but the Red Bulls have veritable star power on the field in Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.

Could it change with a run of good early results for the Cosmos? Maybe, but it’s hard to see a lower-division team finding its name in lights in Times Square, no matter how many games it wins.


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Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.