Old Foes In New York Cosmos And Miami FC Meet Again In NPSL National Championship

Cosmos kick off against Miami FC on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Aug 2, 2019

The 2019 NPSL National Championship will feature two familiar foes from the NASL. The New York Cosmos hold a winning edge over Miami FC, with six wins in their nine meetings, with the last match settled between the teams on penalty kicks from after no goals were scored in the The Championship Semifinal on November 5, 2017.

Cosmos forward Aaron Dennis was with Miami for the 2016-17 seasons, and current Miami defender John Neeskens was a fan favorite in Cosmos Country, having won the 2015 NPSL Championship with Cosmos B and returning to play a key role again for the 2018 campaign. 

But it is what the two clubs have come to represent that makes this NPSL National Championshipl such an intriguing matchup. The Cosmos claim the richest legacy in North American soccer history while Miami FC began play in 2016. Both clubs share ambitions to grow the game domestically, with aspirations far beyond limitations imposed by current league structures and governance models.

Since their last meeting in the 2017 NASL playoffs, both clubs have not only continued to compete - while some of their peers have suspended play or folded since the NASL saw its divisional sanctioning revoked by U.S. Soccer - they have also refused to subordinate their ambitions with marginalized status in the absence of a unified domestic league structure pyramid with promotion and relegation that is the standard for the global game.

Together with fellow NPSL club Kingston Stockade, Miami FC filed a claim with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in August of 2017, arguing that the absence of promotion and relegation in the current U.S, Soccer Professional League Standards is in violation of FIFA Statute VIII on Sporting Integrity.

Meanwhile Rocco Commisso, Chairman of the New York Cosmos, has taken the lead in the NASL’s antitrust lawsuit against U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer in the Eastern District of New York, vowing, “I am going to fight this until I have my last drop of blood.”

Riccardo Silva, President of Miami FC, made a reported $4 billion bid for domestic league soccer media rights in 2017. And in 2018, Commisso, pledged $250 million of his own money as part of a $500 million investment package to enhance the domestic league structure. Both offers of investments to help U.S. Soccer in its mission to make soccer a preeminent sport domestically have been ignored by the national governing body.

The Cosmos and Miami FC have learned the hard way that in the current domestic league sanctioning structure, winning a title will not earn the opportunity to compete an ostensibly higher level of sanctioned play in the next year. The Cosmos repeated as NASL Champions in 2015 and 2016. Miami FC will try to repeat as NPSL Champions in this year’s final against the Cosmos. 

In other countries, a league title defense could only happen in the top flight. But rising to a higher level of competition by virtue of winning a domestic league title is not allowed by U.S, Soccer at present. So while both clubs seek their second NPSL national title in this year’s final, renewing on the pitch competition between two clubs with far-reaching ambitions, both must continue to battle on similar fronts off the pitch to help reform the sport, not only for their own or mutual benefit, but for but the good of the game for all domestically.

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