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Cosmos begin building for future as two links to the past are lost

Three players are re-signed while club is saddened by the passing of two Soccer Bowl legends

Soccer: NASL Final-Indy Eleven at New York Cosmos
Ryan Richter is embraced by Jimmy Maurer after scoring the winning penalty in the 2016 Soccer Bowl
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The team took the first step towards rebuilding the roster this past week with the return of three players for their sophomore seasons. Meanhwile Cosmos Country was saddened to learn of the passing of two links to the illustrious past.

Cosmos fans will be encouraged to hear that the rebuild has begun as Eric Calvillo, David Ochieng and Ryan Richter agreed to rejoin the team this week.

Ryan Richter earned a place in Cosmos lore with his winning penalty in November’s Soccer Bowl victory over Indy Eleven. Meanwhile Eric Calvillo burst onto the scene with a headed goal on his full debut against Minnesota United in October. And of course we’ll hope to see Kenyan international David Ochieng once again providing some youthful solidity at the back in the coming season.

Obviously there’s a long way to go, but at least there will be a couple of somewhat familiar faces in the ranks. One would imagine at this stage that Ochieng and Richter will form half of a regular back four. But at 19 and with only three senior appearances to his name, Calvillo may have to wait and see who else arrives ahead of April before booking his first team place.

With a returning Gio Savarese and his wide net of contacts (hopefully bolstered by Alecko Eskandarian), you would have to feel confident that the Cosmos can put together a competitive squad for next year. Meanwhile many fans are likely still holding out hope for the safe return of goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, who so far has only been cryptic about his future.

In sadder news, the Cosmos lost two veterans of their 1980 Soccer Bowl winning team as it emerged that Robert Cabañas and François Van der Elst both passed away over the course of last week.

After being a part of the Belgium team that finished runners-up to Germany in the 1980 European Championship, Van der Elst played parts of two seasons with the Cosmos, including the 1980 Soccer Bowl victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Cabañas meanwhile was also a Soccer Bowl champion in 1982 and somewhat bravely outscored the soon-to-be-retiring Giorgio Changlia to lead the NASL in 1983. That same year, Cabañas scored what was arguably the greatest goal of the original NASL - an audacious scorpion kick, that was beautifully recounted by Soccer America’s Paul Gardner in his column last week. In my opinion there can be a no more fitting tribute to Roberto than to watch that goal in all it’s glory, over and over again: