Senna ready to lead the next Cosmos generation

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By DAN KARELL

NEW YORK– Sitting back in his chair at a lower Manhattan hotel, Marcos Antonio Senna looks like a man who is ready to take on a challenge.

After arriving in New York just three days prior, the 36-year-old Sao Paulo, Brazil native was officially introduced on Monday as a member of the New York Cosmos, signing a contract with the club that is returning to the professional ranks for the first time since 1985. Senna spent the last eleven seasons at Spanish club Villarreal, finishing his time there by guiding the club back to La Liga after a one year absence.

You might ask what an aging veteran, who starred in central midfield at the 2006 World Cup and the 2008 European Championships with his naturalized nation Spain, is doing playing in the second tier of American soccer, in the North American Soccer League. Credit to Senna, he doesn’t look at his new club in such black and white terms.

“I don’t know if the level (of the NASL) is as low as people think,” Senna said through a translator. “I am really anxious to come here to play, and also to get to know the country.”

When the Cosmos announced last year in July that they were returning to professional play, the organization immediately looked far and wide for potential signings. According to Senna, that’s when his courtship to New York began.

“It started last year,” Senna said. “I spoke with the head coach (Giovanni Savarese) twice, he explained to me what he wanted, and I was very attracted to coming here.”

Senna isn’t just joining the Cosmos to earn one last paycheck before his playing career ends. He is bringing his family with him too.

“I believe that when one has made a decision, they are more prepared,” Senna said about his cross-Atlantic move. “I’m really excited about playing here. My family is very excited to move to New York, and live this new experience.”

Senna said that playing in the same uniform that the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and Carlos Alberto Torres once played in is a huge honor. Referencing the global appeal of the Cosmos, Senna understood the rich history that he’s stepping into, calling the Cosmos of old a “team with great tradition.”

At the same time, Senna admits that becoming part of the club’s rebirth is something that he’s very much looking forward to.

“To me it’s a privilege to play in this team, to be a part of a new generation of the Cosmos, to be part of the new project,” Senna said. “I hope to be a positive influence and to win the league title so that the Cosmos can resonate even more around the world.”

Like others before him and many after him, there will likely be many doubters of Senna’s ability to perform at a high level as he nears the age of 37. Senna recently completed a taxing season, playing 33 times for Villarreal in a season that ended on June 8.

Though he has had only a month of rest before he joins his Cosmos teammates this week for pre-season training, Senna was confident that his age and fitness wouldn’t be a problem.

“I had a good sufficient vacation, I had some quiet time, and I’m ready now to compete,” Senna said.

The Cosmos open up their 2013 season on August 3 at Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University, in Hempstead, NY. The team will play two friendly matches in England in late July in preparation for the NASL fall season.

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31 Responses to Senna ready to lead the next Cosmos generation

  1. Cosmosfan says:

    Seems like he has the right attitude and will be key in mentoring and providing leadership to a young team. Not expecting him to dazzle on the pitch like he did in years past, he is 36 after all. But a strong vet leader is a positive addition to this squad.

  2. pgloerse says:

    I’m sure I will get flack for this – but why has there been so much coverage of the Cosmos? I am guessing it has to do with Dan perhaps having a relationship with them.

    Is there a way that we could perhaps have spotlights on various lower divisions teams throughout the year?

    • SanFran415 says:

      The Cosmos sell. The name has recognition. This site exists to make money–it does so by curating content to avid soccer viewers. The Carolina Railhawks might be a cool team, but outside of their local NASL supporters contingents–their brand is weak in recognition and notoriety. The Cosmos are a lightening rod in the soccer community and their stories bring clicks.

      And I highly doubt Dan Karell makes editorial decisions on content placement. If he has a relationship with them–it only makes it easier to write a story. Ives still decides what goes up through the editorial process.

      • RPH says:

        I think this coverage has a lot to do with the Cosmos’ interesting history, and the fact that they are making interesting moves. If other teams in the NASL and USL were building a roster with such bold moves, they might also get this sort of attention, but we don’t see that happening. This club obviously has serious ambition, and that attracts interest.

        • Amelia says:

          Bold moves??? RPH what bold moves are you referring to?

          • RPH says:

            Look at their roster dude. Do you see other NASL teams signing players like Senna?

          • bryan says:

            this article is on a “bold” move. this is a NASL team we are talking about. a team that just came back from the dead. maybe bold isn’t the best word, but we all knew what the point was. it doesn’t surprise me to see this much coverage.

    • RK says:

      This blog is based in New York / New Jersey, too.

    • patrick says:

      they are, whether people like it or not, probably the #1 soccer brand in the US, known further than the Galaxy, Red Bulls or anyone else. Add to that the way they are going about building their roster, and their former status as the potential 20th MLS team, and you have your reason.

      • slowleftarm says:

        I disagree with this. No one under 30, actually closer to 35, ever watched the original Cosmos play. It’s an old brand with perhaps some cache amongst older soccer fans but I don’t think the Cosmos did much for US Soccer and personally I’m ready to forget about them. The latest iteration is just some minor league team playing in a college stadium in Hempstead.

        • McQ says:

          “The latest iteration is just some minor league team playing in a college stadium in Hempstead”

          Have you taken a look at where the San Jose Earthquakes play lateley? or up until last year, Kansas City ?

          Don’t kid yourself, they are not as far off as you might like to think.

          • Aces says:

            There’s a really strange insistence among some people that the stadium be within the geographical borders of the 5 boroughs. People love to rip on “the borough boys” for this, but if you talk to any of them they’ll tell you it’s just a name. It’s about the cultural identity of the city, not the geography.

            • Ando says:

              The point is that before the NASL Comsos decided to play at Hofstra, the Borough Boys wanted a MLS team in NYC, within the 5 Boros. If New Jersey does not cut it, how does Long Island fit the “cultural identity” of New York? Hempstead is not NYC. Im sorry, this is backtracking.

              • Paul says:

                My impression is that the central part of NYC is cosmopolitan and filled with yuppie/hipster transplants, while New Yorkers live in the Bronx and on Long Island, both in Queens and the less accessible parts of Brooklyn and also in the inner suburbs.

              • Aces says:

                The cultural identity problem is with Red Bull, not Jersey.

        • Coco says:

          when the LAG were on Fox Sports West (they moved to Time Warner this year) they averaged 30k viewers. That’s shockingly low in a market like LA. Literally no one was watching.

          the Cosmos have their own TV deal. How many viewers will they avg? I guarantee you they will get more than LAG.

          • Aces says:

            I don’t think so… Our games are on a network not many people get. They also won’t be doing away games, for those we’ll have to watch the NASL streams like everyone else.

          • scb says:

            This is not a snarky comment: I’m actually curious as to why you think the Cosmos will get significantly more viewers than the Galaxy?

        • jspech says:

          which are you under/over 35?

  3. Rector & Carlisle says:

    If the age of players gets any higher, some team eventually is going to sign Pele.

    (But sincere good luck to the Cosmos and MS)

  4. DC Josh says:

    I’m not sure Senna understands what he is getting himself into. I am hoping — as an American soccer fan — that the NASL attracts 10,000+ fans to each game, but that is likely far from reality. However, the better the lower leagues are in America, the better MLS and our USMNT will be. So, I am all for it.

    • Raymon says:

      I think he knows: A relo package for his family to live in the US (NYC baby!), lengthening the tail end of his playing career, plus knowing that he is stepping into the history that he recited. And, yes, it will be one last paycheck. I agree re. improving all our leagues and ultimately our nats.

      • pgloerse says:

        The Visa may be worth it alone…

        • Mr_A says:

          Hmmm… is that a joke? The EU has a lot of nice places to live. From what I’ve seen (not Spain, but other parts of EU), it’s way better to raise a family over there than in NYC. I love the USA, but public school education and college costs leave a lot to be desired, and no matter what the best health care system is, our system is very messed up.

          • McQ says:

            How do you know it is better to raise a family in Europe than NYC? In case you didn’t know, NY has some of the best private schools in the country. He has been a professional soccer player for more than a decade, I suspect he is not going to move to some ghetto and send his kids to public schools. And where are you going with this college costs and health care post? I think you got lost and are on the wrong board.

          • Paul says:

            The future of Europe’s economy is looking pretty grim right now, so a move to the U.S. may very well make sense in securing a good future for his family. Unemployment in Spain is around 25%. I have also wondered whether this played into Ori Rosell’s decision to move to MLS. He probably could make more money playing in Spain’s second division, but there would always be the risk that the team stops paying its players in order to stave off bankruptcy. Additionally, he may have been thinking about the career prospects of his fiance, who is not a professional athlete, but a college student. Indeed, MLS might be a very good value proposition for a number of European players who aren’t quite sure what kind of future they might face and who value the non-soccer opportunities present in the US that are lacking in Europe.

  5. Mr_A says:

    Anything that can promote the NASL is all right with me. European soccer will always be superior to the MLS because of the economic models. US Sports are based on collective marketing power to better compete against other entertainment. While that is great for promoting a sport in general, and raising it up from apathy in the mind of the public, the down side is that it does a lousy job of competing with an existing free-market model where any individual player can earn more money by playing somewhere else. The NASL economics are better long-term, if enough of the public can care about the games. So I’ll always root for an NASL team over an MLS team, because the players will be better served, and the game will get better players. Here’s hopin.’

  6. byob el paso tx says:

    Cant wait for cosmos to boy play the NASL and leave a mark in Open Cup. cant wait!!!!!