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Cosmos Bermuda-bound

The New York Cosmos will take on a Bermuda Select XI in an exhibition match at the National Stadium next weekend.

The Cosmos, who are the reigning champions of the revived North American Soccer League, will arrive on the island next Thursday, playing a training match the next day before their game against the Bermuda Select XI next Sunday.

Cosmos will also be on the lookout for a Bermudian youngster to join their B team for their upcoming season, which starts with an away match to Puerto Rico FC on March 25.

Bermuda has strong ties to the Cosmos, with Randy Horton, who attended yesterday's announcement at the Clyde Best Centre of Excellence, and Sam Nusum both playing for the side during the 1970s.

The Cosmos also visited the island for pre-season in 1977 and 1978. Horton, a powerful striker, played for the club from 1971 to 1974 and helped them win the NASL championship in 1972 as the team's top scorer and was named the league's Most Valuable Player. Goalkeeper Nusum joined them in 1975 and played alongside the legendary Pelé.

The Cosmos trip is a joint venture between the Bermuda Football Association and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

“On behalf of the Bermuda Tourism Authority we would like to thank New York Cosmos for choosing Bermuda as a sports training destination,” Daniel Johnson, of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said.

“It's been 40 years since New York Cosmos were in Bermuda and we're delighted to have you back to rekindle our relationship. Next week is going to be great and we hope everybody comes out to support Bermuda. This [tour] demonstrates that Bermuda Tourism Authority's sports strategy is delivering results, showing that we are driving business during our shoulder months of November to March.

Johnson, a former PHC Zebras and Devonshire Cougars goalkeeper, said he had worked closely with Jack Gaeta, the director of team operations at the Cosmos, to make the trip happen.

“We are thrilled to come back, we've been here two times, in 1977 and 1978 and it's a wonderful island,” Gaeta said. “I was here myself in 1991, so it's good to be back.

“We look forward to having a few days of training and a competitive match to conclude our pre-season ahead of our first match on March 25, followed by our first home match on April 1 [to Miami FC] in our brand new facility in Coney Island, Brooklyn.”

Horton, a politician these days as the Speaker of the House, joked that he could not reveal which team be will be supporting.

“I'll be supporting great football,” he said. “I'm not the Speaker of the House for nothing!

“I'm excited to see that the Cosmos are coming to Bermuda, I'm always excited about anything related to the Cosmos after being a member of the first Cosmos championship team.

“I also think it is an excellent opportunity for one of our young players, as I understand the Cosmos will take a player to play in the Cosmos second team, to be seen and to possibly reach the grade to even make the first team.”

Horton added: “I remember clearly the first goal I scored, it was in St Louis in 1971 from a free kick just outside the box. The ball came across and I took the defender, a guy named Steve Frank, to the cleaners and the ball was in the back of the net.

“I encourage Bermuda to come out and watch the team, I'm not sure they'll be as good as the team I played for, but there will be a lot of excitement. You can't talk about soccer in the United States without, at some point, mentioning the New York Cosmos, so I'm happy they're coming here.”

James Davis, the treasurer of the BFA, said that the Cosmos will award a Bermuda player with a contract with their B team from April 1 to July 30, including a round-trip ticket and a monthly housing allowance.

“One of the most important things is the mentality of the player, on and off the field,” Gaeta said.

“Our whole coaching staff has done a great job in years past of not only finding players who are not only great soccer people but good people off the field as well. It could be a player from any position, just a good footballer all-round.”

Photograph by Lawrence Trott Strong ties: Horton, who starred for the NASL team in the early 1970s, holds a team jersey bearing his name with Gaeta, the director of team operations

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Published March 09, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated March 08, 2017 at 10:08 pm)

Cosmos Bermuda-bound

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