Cosmos legend Shep Messing says it's 'foolish' to leave team out of MLS

The former goalkeeper expects the NASL team to enter the first division within the next three years.
NEW YORK -- New York Cosmos legend Shep Messing believes it would be a big mistake if Major League Soccer doesn't consider the relaunched Cosmos as an option for its 20th team.

"It is foolish, it's absolutely foolish," Messing told during Heineken's Champions League viewing party last week. "Major League Soccer will be a major beneficiary if the New York Cosmos return and are playing in New York."

It's been three years since the Cosmos announced their bid to return to North American soccer and the club recently revealed its plans to open a $400 million stadium in Long Island's Belmont park. Considering MLS's long-stated goal of having its next franchise in New York City, it was speculated that the Cosmos would be favored once they developed legitimate plans for where the club would play.

That hasn't been the case.

During MLS's press conference to open the 2013 season, commissioner Don Garber was adamant that it is the league's goal to play in Corona Park, Queens, not Belmont Park. He also hinted that the Cosmos' decision to move forward with their independent plans hurt their chances.

"They [the New York Cosmos] had a choice to make: Do they want to vie for a New York City MLS team or do they want to go to the second division? They decided to go into the second division and we support that and continue to support the NASL and the USL," Garber said.

Messing thinks that Garber's statements are tactics to try to get the best possible deal for the league's 20th franchise.

"I think a lot of what we are hearing right now is negotiating and posturing," Messing insisted. "If I had to bet, I'd be betting that the New York Cosmos will be playing in the league in the next three years."

While Garber's statements contradict Messing's insight, the former Cosmos goalkeeper explained that bringing back the club would continue MLS's progress in reconnecting with soccer's history. He pointed to success that former NASL clubs like the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers are having in the league and their passionate support groups that follow those teams.

"I think when Major League Soccer started, there was a conscious effort to not have anything to do with the old NASL teams but now you've seen that change. You see the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and the San Jose Earthquakes..." Messing pointed out.

Messing insists that MLS has a chance to repeat that success with the Cosmos.

"One thing that we are missing and need to build on and are missing in this country is history, " he said. "The history of soccer in America surely includes the New York Cosmos."

He added, " I think Major League Soccer knows that it needs to embrace the history and the Cosmos are a part of that history."

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