The New York Cosmos have reshaped their attacking core ahead of the 2016 NASL Spring Season, but their defensive core will remain mostly the same as it has since the reboot in 2013. Gio Savarese found an excellent formula to prevent the opposition from scoring very early in his tenure, and appears to be taking a very similar approach again this year.
In goal, the Cosmos will have Jimmy Maurer, who has been here since day one. He took over as the full time starter in 2014, and has been the league's best keeper over the totality of the past two seasons. There's no reason to believe that this will change in 2016, especially with the defensive core in front of him largely unchanged.
The back four will feature familiar faces this season, as well, with Hunter Freeman, Carlos Mendes, and Ayoze all set to return for a fourth season in New York. All three have been regular starters since the reboot, and despite all three now being on the wrong side of 30, they showed no signs of slowing down during the title run last season.
The fourth starter from last year's championship squad, Roversio, is still under contract with the club. The Brazilian has been temporarily removed from the roster, however, as he deals with his latest knee issue. The club have not ruled out Roversio for the entire Spring Season yet, but if he's healthy enough to return before June, the club will need to open up an international roster spot before he's added back to the roster.
Last season's primary backups, Samuel Caceres and Hunter Gorskie, both left the club this winter. Replacing that pair are Jimmy Ockford, on loan from the Seattle Sounders for the second time, and Kenyan international David Ochieng. Ochieng will likely step into the vacancy created by Roversio's injury during week one, and with any luck, the 23-year old will impress, becoming a long-term replacement for the 35-year old Mendes.
In terms of style, Ochieng and Roversio aren't very similar at all. The Brazilian is tremendous with the ball at his feet, and his steady presence has helped the club start their attack from the back for the past several seasons. Ochieng, on the other hand, will look to use his size, strength, and recovery speed to make up for his lack of experience, and will be a very dangerous weapon for the Cosmos to aim for on set pieces.
Hunter Freeman has been working on a transition to center back, where he'll likely be playing full time at some point during the next several seasons. Should that move wind up happening this spring, for one reason or another, both David Diosa and Gabriel Farfan are available to cover at fullback. The club also has US Youth international Alexis Velela working with the first team, who can fill in anywhere across the back, or in midfield, if needed.
Ahead of the defense, Savarese will have to replace the open play contributions of Marcos Senna, but appears to be in good position to do just that. Both Danny Szetela and Adam Moffat return from last season's squad, and Michael Lahoud has joined on loan from the Philadelphia Union. In addition, US Yotuh international Eric Calvillo has been impressive since joining, and should see some minutes with the first team this spring.
All in all, it's hard to imagine this group won't be among the best in the league, even if Roversio's injury causes some problems. With any luck, Ochieng will use that opportunity to impress Savarese and the fanbase, giving the club even more options when Roversio eventually returns.