With the announcement that Carlos Mendes is returning to the Cosmos as head coach and also in the new role of sporting director, attention is now on who will take the field this fall in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA).
According to a source close to the organization, at least two players, and possibly more, have been offered a contract. Assuming offers are accepted, the club intends to announce signings next week. While terms have not been released, compensation is expected to begin immediately and last for the duration of 2020 NISA season.
It was shared with FTP that Carlos Mendes conveyed to a player that the club intends to sign a small core to the roster shortly, with the possibility of loaning players out till the start of the preseason. This suggests that while we'll have a few names lined up in the short term, most of the squad would not be added till the June preseason.
This has triggered some introspection among players who haven't yet been offered a contract with the club, or announced for another organization, FTP has heard from multiple sources; there's been speculation that seniority or performance may not be playing a larger role in who is being approached during this early round. A late January/February signing represents a welcome measure of security in advance of the June preseason.
Most player contracts expired in November 2019, leaving potentially eight months of economic insecurity as a barrier to roster continuity with the club. We've seen some players like Junior Burgos and Queens son David Diosa sign with other clubs since the 2019 NPSL season ended. We've also heard reports of players biding time by taking on work having nothing to do with the sport.
There could be any number of completely valid reasons for professional athletes to seek other opportunities, but there is no denying that large breaks are legitimate hammer blows to a career, and a worry for fans with connections to players - whether they are veterans like Danny or Bledi or newcomers like Charlie Le Dula or Emmanuelle Sembroni. As this is Cosmos Country's inaugural season with NISA, fans have many questions about what life in NISA and a return to professional soccer will mean for the Cosmos. What happens with the roster, technical staff, marketing and most importantly the venue is the main way the organization will answer those questions. Every off-season is a chance to change how the club is perceived by its current fans, but more importantly it's their best chance to show the public why they should be new fans. Will the organization make the most of this opportunity?
FTP will update as information becomes available. We hope the club moves quickly to staff the roster.
James Izurieta contributed to the editing of this article.