Wednesday, June 01, 2011

This Week in American Soccer History: The Kaizer comes to the Cosmos

This week in Soccer History: Franz "Kaizer" Beckenbauer, May 29 1977

Contributing Editor Dillon Young
(links posted are to images of the original documents from the era)

This week, on May 29th 1977, Franz "Kaizer" Beckenbauer joins the New York Cosmos versus the Tampa Rowdies. In a game seen around the world, the Tampa Bay Rowdies destroyed the New York Cosmos 4 -2 in front of a near record regular season crowd of 45,288 in the 1976 European Footballer of the Year's debut in the NASL.

The match was billed by play by play man Jon Miller (famous for his later career at ESPN) as the first game in NASL history to have three of the best players in the world (Pele, Giorgio Chinaglia and Beckenbauer). Even though the Kaizer scored in the match, (and gave an odd interview at halftime where he seems to admit he came for money, because he is getting old and has nothing left to accomplish), Tampa owned the action from the start earning four goals (including this cracker from Steve Wegerle) before the Cosmos got on the board.

Although Beckenbauer's career at the Cosmos was full of injuries (which he blamed on the astroturf), it did mark the point when the Cosmos were at their height of fame both on and off the field (which author Gavin Newsham documents in his wonderful book Once in a Lifetime: The Incredible Story of the New York Cosmos). They went on to win the NASL Soccer Bowl in 1977, 1978 and 1980.


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