New York Cosmos forward, Eugene Starikov, joined the team during this year’s preseason.
The 28-year-old played soccer at Edison High School in California before moving to Florida to attend nationally ranked Stetson University. At Stetson, Starikov earned multiple A-Sun honors, being named to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team, as well as the A-Sun All-Academic Team in 2007. That year, he scored the winning goal on three occasions. Starikov then left his mark at IMG Academy Bradenton in the USL Premier Development League, netting in five goals.
His main reason for joining the Cosmos was simple – “I wanted to stay in the United States,” he said. There was more to it than that, of course. “Everybody knows about the Cosmos,” he continued. “All eyes are on them. It's a good opportunity to be involved with such a club.”
Before moving to New York, the forward was on loan from Zenit Saint Petersburg, playing for FC Rostov and Tom Tomsk in the Russian Premier League. He then joined Chornomorets Odessa in Ukraine's top division, making 10 appearances and netting in two goals.
“The style of play and some of the direction is different, I guess, but the way we play is similar, so it's nice to be with a team that's not just about kicking the ball and running. The style and [focus on] passing the ball is similar,” he said.
Starikov has adapted seamlessly at his new club, tallying two goals and two assists during the Cosmos' preseason tour in the Dominican Republic. His first impressions of the team were nothing but positive. “I saw a very good group of guys that Gio [Savarese] brought together,” said Starikov of his new teammates. “The Coach has been really big on making the team feel united like a family. Everyone is very good, the guys are good to be around. It's a nice family atmosphere at the club, so I'm happy to be here.”
That team chemistry and positivity led to the Cosmos' first victory of 2017 in a rematch against Miami FC. Starikov debuted in the starting lineup and got the team's first shot on goal in a 2-0 win at Riccardo Silva Stadium.
Although the Cosmos' home opener produced a different result, there were some positive takeaways. “The atmosphere at the stadium is very nice,” Starikov said. The fans [at MCU Park] were also great.”
Despite the plethora of tourist attractions in the Big Apple, Starikov has yet to experience New York City to its fullest. The forward has been hard at work training with the team at Mitchel Field in Long Island, so checking out the sights and sounds of Manhattan is a plan Starikov has postponed in the meantime.
“For now, I'd like to focus on this season in the NASL,” Starikov said. “The way it works in the US is different, with the Fall and Spring Seasons. My main goal is to win the season to make the playoffs. My personal goal is to score as many goals as possible and to win the Spring Season,” he added.
The next home match takes places this Saturday at 7:00 pm at MCU Park, as the team battles NASL league leaders Jacksonville Armada FC. Tickets are on sale now. For more information click here.