Neeskens Ready to Forge Own Cosmos Path

New York Cosmos B captain John Neeskens is determined to leave his mark on the club.
Published Jul 14, 2015
By Jason Lind

Neeskens. The surname is hard to ignore in soccer circles. Especially when it appears on a New York Cosmos lineup sheet.

Raised in Barcelona with Blaugrana and Villarreal youth academy experience, 21-year-old central defender John Neeskens came to New York earlier this year after a season spent playing for the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer. In his short time with the club he has captained reserve side New York Cosmos B to an NPSL North Atlantic Division title.

“I left [Colorado] for the opportunity to come here,” Neeskens told “I didn’t think twice because I knew this was a really good club – a historic club in the United States. So I wanted to come and play here.”

He knows the weight his name carries. Johan Neeskens is regarded as one of the best Dutch footballers of all time. The central midfielder donned the Cosmos crest from 1979-84 and suited up for Ajax and Barcelona before that. He was also capped 49 times for his country between 1970 and 1981, helping the Netherlands reach consecutive World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978.

“When I first heard about John being available to come to the Cosmos, the first thought I had was how cool it would be to have another person at the club whose father played in the golden era,” said Cosmos B head coach and first team assistant Alecko Eskandarian. His dad, Andranik, played behind Johan on the Cosmos backline in the late '70s and early '80s.

“When people hear my name around here, I suppose they think of my father,” Neeskens said. “But I’m a footballer, too. I want to work and fight for a spot on this team.

“Since I came to this club everyone has received me well. The coaches, the technical staff and the players… it’s like a family. So that has made it all special to me.”

Having split time between the U.S. and Spain for his continuing education in soccer, Neeskens believes the quality of play in the two countries is as even as ever.

“I think the gap is closing constantly because now we’re seeing great players in the United States,” he said. “Here, for example, we have Raúl and Marcos Senna, who are legends of the sport in Europe and all of Spain. Every day the United States and Spain, even all of Europe are more equal in this sport.”

The Cosmos first team has just settled into its NASL Fall Season. They clinched a postseason position by finishing their 10-game spring campaign undefeated and on top of the league standings. Now the 20-game fall will test their conditioning and depth, and perhaps afford opportunities for call-ups from the B team.

“Since he arrived, John has carved out a name of his own,” said Eskandarian. “He has shown great leadership and consistency as the captain of Cosmos B, as well as the talent to prove he is a serious future prospect to break in with the first team.”

“I’d like to be here many years, play with the first team, enjoy my time with all the players, get better at training every day and ultimately be happy with this club,” Neeskens said of his future with the Cosmos.

Next Wednesday, July 22, he’ll lead Cosmos B into its first ever playoff game as the top seed with an impressive 11-1-0 (WDL) regular season record. Neeskens said it’s all about maintaining the standard the team has set for itself.

“We have to keep doing what we’ve done up to this point: looking at ourselves, not committing errors and following the path that we’ve been on very well so far.”