Raúl

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New York Cosmos add veteran Premier League midfielder Niko Kranjcar

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Thought the loss of Raul and Marcos Senna would destroy the New York Cosmos? Think again.

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After acquiring Venezuelan midfielder Juan Arango earlier this offseason, the Cosmos announced on Friday the signing of Premier League veteran Niko Kranjcar.

The Croatian playmaker played for Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth, before helping Queens Park Rangers move to the PL in 2014.

“I’ve enjoyed my time training with the Cosmos, working with these players and coaches has been a great experience,” Kranjcar said. He was included in the team’s preseason tour of California. “I think the style of play here suits me well, I and I’m excited to officially represent the club on the field this season.”

In his time with Croatia’s national team, Kranjcar recorded 81 caps and scored 16 goals for his native country. He was a staple for the Vatreni during the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, despite his team not advancing out of the group stage. Prior to his successful senior team stint, the Kranjcar featured for a number of Croatia’s youth sides.

While the move for Kranjcar may not be the most noteworthy, he is still a very talented player that will certainly fill a need immediately in the Cosmos midfielder. With the departure of Senna, New York’s newest foreign signing can slot in as an attacker midfielder or even as a winger.

MLS may have David Villa and Kaka, but the Cosmos continue to make NASL relevant with moves like this one.

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VIDEO: New York Cosmos win NASL title; Raul ends career in style

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Raul Gonzalez Blanco has left the pitch for the last time.

On Sunday Real Madrid legend Raul, 38, called time on an illustrious 21-year career as he and the New York Cosmos won the 2015 North American Soccer League (NASL) title.

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Raul’s 1,034th and final game came in Long Island as the Cosmos beat the Ottawa Fury 3-2 (see the highlights in the video above) to seal a second NASL crown in three seasons since they were relaunched in the second incarnation of the NASL. Argentine forward Gaston Cellerino scored a hat trick to steal the spotlight with Raul assisting on his third strike.

True, it may not have been the most salubrious of locations for Raul’s glittering career to end but after dazzling for Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, winning three UEFA Champions League trophies and six La Liga crowns in his 16-year professional career with his hometown club, it was fitting that one of the greatest goalscorers in history finished by winning yet another trophy.

Speaking in Spanish to the media after the game, Raul had mixed emotions as the Spaniard officially retired from the game.

“Today was my last game to finish my career, and I’m very proud of everything I did,” Raul said. “I’ve been lucky enough to play in World Cups, Euro Cups, Champions League, and to win them, but this is soccer to me. To play on artificial turf, in front of crowds, in front of no one. I’ve been able to live all the experiences before I was a professional and a nobody, and after when I had achieved a lot of things. I’ve always enjoyed and I think I will continue to enjoy things from this game, but no longer as a professional player. I’ve lived very special moments. It would be an injustice to just name one because they were all so special. The most important thing I can think of now is the accomplishment today.”

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Raul scored nine goals in 32 games this season for the Cosmos as the predatory forward has spent the last four seasons away from Spain with spells at Germany side Schalke and Al Saad in Qatar.

However, Raul will be remembered forever for his exploits in Real’s famous number seven jersey as he scored 323 goals in 741 games. The videos below show Raul being hoisted into the air by his teammates at James M Shuart Stadium in front of a record crowd for an NASL title game of over 10,000, while other clips of  the Cosmos celebrating the success are below.

Also retiring after the win was former Spanish international midfielder Marcos Senna, 39, as he and Raul went out on top.

Ronaldo to Raul: “You were the best”; Real salutes retiring Cosmos star (video)

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Some of Raul’s ex-Real Madrid teammates have sent the retiring club legend a video tribute ahead of his final professional game as a player.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafa Benitez and Marcelo are among the Real Madrid stars to take to film for a tribute to the club’s second-leading goal scorer.

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Raul will retire from playing after Sunday’s NASL Championship game between his New York Cosmos and the Ottawa Fury.

Ronaldo, for his part, hails Raul for his “noble career” and thanks him for being a good example before declaring him “the best”.

Cosmos star Raul to retire at conclusion of NASL season

Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images
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This is it for Raul. For real this time.

Of course, that’s a qualified “for real”, but the New York Cosmos midfielder and Real Madrid legend is set to complete his playing career at the end of the 2015 NASL season.

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The Cosmos won the league’s Spring season, so his playing days will go into November.

From the NASL:

“My decision is to retire from playing at the end of this season. I am fully focused on finishing the season strong and helping the New York Cosmos win the NASL Championship. In the coming months I will decide the next step in my career.”

Raul’s seven goals are good for an 8th place tie in the league leaderboard, and he’s been linked with running the club’s new academy.

The 38-year-old Spaniard has seen his record for most Real Madrid goals broken by Cristiano Ronaldo this year, and he has a remarkable 387 club goals in more than 900 matches. Those came mostly for Madrid, but he’s also spent time at Schalke and Al Sadd.

Now who will the headline-seeking Cosmos look to snare to fill his void?

WATCH: New York Cosmos beat Cuban national team in historic Havana match

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The New York Cosmos brought U.S. sports back to Cuba in grand style, defeating the Cuban national team 4-1 on Tuesday night at Pedro Marrero Stadium in Havana.

Former Dartmouth striker Lucky Mkosana scored twice for New York’s NASL club, which also had goals from Sebastián Guenzatti and Hagop Chirishian. Raul, unsurprisingly, pulled the playmaking strings for multiple goals.

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The historic evening came 44 years after the U.S. and Cuba severed diplomatic relations, which were restored earlier this year by the two countries’ leaders.

Andy Vaquero scored for Cuba, while U.S. U-17 striker Haji Wright was a sub for the Cosmos.

Here’s footage from One World Sports: