On Thursday, the New York Cosmos announced the full roster that has traveled to California for a trio of upcoming friendlies, the first of which will be played in Los Angeles, on Saturday evening. Head Coach Gio Savarese has brought a total of 21 players currently under contract with the club, in addition to four players who are not.
Here are the 21 contracted players who have made the trip to the west coast:
Jimmy Maurer, Kyle Zobeck, Brian Holt
Hunter Freeman, Carlos Mendes, Rovérsio, Ayoze, David Diosa*, Alexis Velela
Michael Lahoud, Andrés Flores, Sebastián Guenzatti, Danny Szetela, Ruben Bover, Adam Moffat, Juan Arango, Yohandry Orozco, Eric Calvillo, Jimmy Mulligan
Jairo Arrieta, Lucky Mkosana
*I'm, assuming listing Diosa as a defender is a typo, as he's reportedly been working as a striker for most of the offseason
In addition to those 21, the club has four 'trialists' with them on the west coast. The most notable of that group is Niko Kranjcar, the Croatian international and former Tottenham Hotspur player. While the club is clear that Kranjcar is simply maintaining fitness with the defending NASL champions at the moment, I'm sure that most of us are holding out hope that he enjoys his time with the squad, and signs on to play with New York for the 2016 season. He'd immediately become one of the best players in the United States, and I'm more than a little hopeful that we'll see him deployed alongside Juan Arango and Yohandry Orosco during this trip.
In addition to Kranjcar, three lesser-know players have traveled with the club, all of who would likely fill reserve roles with the club this season, or feature heavily for Cosmos B. The first of that trio is versatile attacker Adrian Ruelas. Here's what the club's release had to say about the 24-year old:
Ruelas was born in California but came through Liga MX side Santos Laguna’s youth academy, captaining their U-20 side while also representing the United States at that level. After a yearlong loan to Scottish giants Celtic, he debuted for the Santos Laguna senior squad in 2011 before loan spells with Chiapas and Veracruz.
Up next, we've got another attacker, 25-year-old Norberto Ochoa:
Ochoa, like Ruelas, is a Mexican-American attacking player from California. He played at the collegiate level for Mt. San Antonio College and UC Riverside, tallying seven goals and two assists in 19 appearances (14 starts) for UC Riverside last season. Ochoa was invited to the 2016 adidas MLS Player Combine this past January in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Finally, the club have brought along a fourth goalkeeper, 21 year-old Paul Blanchette:
Named 2015 Co-Goalkeeper of the Year in the West Coast Conference, Blanchette set the single season shutout record (8) for Loyola Marymount University and is the school’s all time leader in shutouts (19). He also finished his senior season with the most career wins at his position in program history (26).
It's not surprising to see the club bringing additional bodies at striker along, but the fact that the club are looking at a pair of them makes me wonder if the rumored deal for Yasmani Duk is anywhere close to happening. I'm perfectly happy to go into the season with Jairo Arrieta and Lucky Mkosana as the primary options to lead the line, as long as there is some additional depth added on the wings.
I'm also more than a little curios to see the two US youth internationals get some minutes on the trip, especially Alexis Velela, who could have a large role with the first team this season if we don't see any more defensive additions. Having seen very little of him in action, I really have no idea what to expect at this point, but would love to see him feature heavily in the three west coast friendlies.