The New York Cosmos are back. Sort of. Perhaps. Definitely maybe?

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The most famous soccer franchise in North America will once again take the field starting in 2013. The New York Cosmos are set to join the NASL for the 2013 season after the second-division’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the apparel brandsoccer club.

“We are extremely proud to welcome the New York Cosmos to the North American Soccer League,” NASL commissioner David Downs said in a statement announcing the news. “As we continue to expand the league and help grow professional soccer in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, the Cosmos brand and their strong ownership group are a perfect fit with us. The history of the Cosmos and soccer in the New York City area are intertwined. Bringing the Cosmos into the NASL is a logical next step as we embrace the heritage of our own past and now reunite the Cosmos, Strikers, Rowdies and several markets with ties to the NASL’s early days. Most importantly, we look forward to the Cosmos enhancing the quality of our league both on and off the field.”

Pay attention to that last bit, the “on and off the field” part. Emphasis mine, but that’s where the Cosmos become important. They are — more than any other team — famous to casual sports fans, especially those of a certain age. For better or worse, the Cosmos have a sense of legitimacy. They are the club of Pele, “Once in a Lifetime,” and Studio 54. NASL is smart to bring them into the fold.

The questions is how long does the marriage last? MLS wants the Cosmos as the 20th team, and the Cosmos want to be said squad. It remains to be seen how that will work, but today’s gets them one step closer. Simply put, soccer in North America is better if the Cosmos are involved.