True Blue: Threads Through Time

Examining the evolution of the New York Cosmos kit.
Published Mar 29, 2015

By Dr. David Kilpatrick

The iconic Cosmos badge has undergone slight variations through the years but the green, gold and blue blades - a symbolic nod to the Atlantic Records’ logo - remain, and the club’s uniforms have utilized various combinations of those colors through the years. 

Given the Cosmos were replacing the New York Generals as the local NASL franchise, the gold jerseys with green trim during the 1971 debut season may have been viewed as a nod to the club’s predecessors: Head Coach Gordon Bradley and Captain Barry Mahy both played for the Generals. But the sky blue shorts and white socks were a prophetic homage to the brilliance of the Brazilian National Team that had triumphed at the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. 

The genesis of the club came from a chance meeting of NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam with brothers Ahmet and Neshui Ertegün, who were hosting a party at the World Cup in hopes of investing in club soccer. Two stars from that world championship side would eventually become Cosmos, and founding General Manager Clive Toye has claimed the colors of Brazil were chosen with Pelé in mind.

The Cosmos wore solid green uniforms with gold numbers when they won the club’s first NASL championship at Hempstead in 1972.  The year after, a single stripe down the left front of the jersey was added, alternating golden yellow and green, the letters C-O-S-M-O-S descending in the stripe on some of the 1973 versions.  The club’s colors were listed as yellow, green and blue, although blue rarely appeared on the team’s uniforms.

The club dropped yellow jerseys for white in 1975, the year Pelé joined, the all-white look resembling the uniform made famous by the only other club he ever played for, Santos.  The media guide that year lists the club’s colors as green, gold and white and they would remain that way through the 1978 season.

Great variety is shown game-to-game in that era.  As the Equipment Manager from 1971-78, Charlie Martinelli purchased the jerseys and hired his wife to sew the numbers and letters. 

Shortly after winning the club’s third NASL championship in Soccer Bowl ‘78, the club announced a color change to navy blue, yellow and white.  Making a major fashion statement with new uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren, the club claimed, “It had been felt for some time that green uniforms against the playing surface of the field presented visual problems for both the players and for television.” 

The Cosmos had planned to transition from the Pelé era of the club’s history with a change from green to blue after he retired in 1977.  The Philadelphia Fury had planned to wear blue and yellow their inaugural year of 1978, but learned of the champions’ intent to change colors.  The Fury had already opted instead for gold and burgundy when the NASL ruled the Cosmos would need to provide a year’s notice to change colors. 

From 1979 to 1985, the Cosmos kept the distinctive look of white with blue and yellow trim collars as first choice for kits and blue with yellow and white trim (sometimes yellow and blue) collars as second choice kits, with the shift from navy to royal blue discernable around 1981. This subtle change is represented in the 1981 Media Guide, dropping “navy” and simply listing blue, yellow and white as team colors. The 1981-82 Media Guide for the indoor soccer season marked another shift, to royal blue, yellow and white as the official team colors (pictured above), which would remain unchanged until the team suspended competition in 1985. In a "homecoming" exhibition match on May 6, 1984 at Giants Stadium, the alumni wore green jerseys while the then-current squad wore white. 

When the club returned to the NASL in 2013, green was restored to the uniform color scheme.  The Cosmos were wearing their green jerseys when they won the club’s sixth NASL championship at Atlanta in Soccer Bowl 2013, the same color jersey worn in the 1972 and 1977 championship games.  The Cosmos wore white when the club won the Soccer Bowl in 1978, 1979 (green trim), 1980 and 1982 (blue trim). 

Fans who have missed the famous blue jerseys as well as the collared look will be delighted by the new third kit designed by Nike. This will be the first season in the club’s history that they will have a third choice kit but this innovation is a nod to tradition.  North American soccer’s richest club heritage is well represented with the white, green and blue jerseys the Cosmos will choose from when they take the pitch in 2015.