[NASL: Fall Preview] A new era in the North American Soccer League begins Saturday as the New York Cosmos open league play against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. In recognition of their legacy, Pele and Carlos Alberto and the late Giorgio Chinaglia will be honored in ceremonies before the game, one of four NASL matches to kick off its fall season.
The Cosmos, who did not participate in the spring half of the 2013 season, recently returned from a trip to England, where they lost to third-level Leyton Orient, 2-1, before a crowd of 2,000 fans.
They will be playing their home games at Hofstra University's James Shuart Stadium, the same stadium where the old Cosmos played in 1972 and 1973. Like those players of the pre-Pele era who played at Hofstra Stadium, the new Cosmos include mostly veterans and journeymen players.
Among the best-known players are 37-year-old Marcos Senna, the Brazilian-born Spanish international, 32-year-old defender Carlos Mendes, who spent eight seasons in MLS, and former U.S. international Danny Szetela, who is making his return to pro ball after an absence of four years because of a knee injury.
"All of us -- the coaching staff, the players, the front office -- we are very excited to get this new venture going," said Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese. "The Cosmos have such a special history and it's wonderful to be a part of their rebirth. This weekend, against the Strikers, against our old rivals, should be a great test and a great start for this team, and I can't wait."
Saturday's game will mark the debut of new Fort Lauderdale coachGuenter Kronsteiner.
"I believe it's going to be very difficult for both of us," the Austrian said. "The Cosmos are new, so we don't really know how they play, and our team has also gone through many changes from the fall season. I wish I had more time to prepare for the first game, but we're going to go out and give 100 percent and see what comes from this. It won't be easy, but I'm looking forward to it."
The Strikers, who finished last in the spring season, have added Mexican under-20 goalie Richard Sanchez on loan from FC Dallas and Bryan Gauland Kenney Walkeron loan from the LA Galaxy.
-- During the summer break, Minnesota United FC was busy. It acquired Mike Ambersley from the Tampa Bay Rowdies for 2011 NASL MVP forward Etienne Barbara and Floyd Franks from the Carolina RailHawks for first-round 2007 MLS SuperDraft pick Bryan Arguez. United also added Calum Mallace and Sinisa Ubiparipovic on loan from the Montreal Impact.
-- The San Antonio Scorpions, who finished the spring season with a five-game winning streak and whose 2-0 win over Carolina in the July 4 finale handed the spring title to Atlanta, have signed Polish striker Tomasz Zahorski and Spanish forward Borja Rubiato.
NASL FALL SEASON WEEK 1, Schedule:
Saturday, August 3
Carolina vs. FC Edmonton
New York vs. Fort Lauderdale
Minnesota vs. Atlanta
San Antonio vs. Tampa Bay