Acknowledging that the 2016 preseason has been a quiet one so far for the club, Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover and Head Coach and Sporting Director Giovanni Savarese sat down with the media Tuesday morning to discuss several items related to the upcoming season, including the look of the roster for 2016.
Walter Restrepo was confirmed to be leaving the club for an MLS side at the meeting and that afternoon, the Philadelphia Union issued a press release indicating the dynamic midfielder would join them for the 2016 season.
“We were prepared from the beginning. Restrepo wanted to be with us this year ,” said Savarese. “Mentally, he always had this desire to of trying to either go to Europe or make it on an MLS club and we had the talk with him at the beginning of the year.”
The split is clearly amicable.
“We always knew he wanted to be somewhere else, he wanted an adventure,” explained the coach. “So we made sure that the adventure was the best one for him possible.”
Hunter Gorskie will also depart the club after making 46 appearances across the last three seasons. Now a free agent, he plans to go to Europe and try his luck at a second-division club in Poland. Reports now indicate it club is the one he trained with during the 2015 preseason, Miedź Legnica.
“He [Hunter Gorskie] felt now that he wants to explore what his passport can give him in Europe, but is not closing the door with us,” said Savarese.
Hagop Chirishian will also be leaving. The midfielder departs after three seasons with the club, logging three goals in 26 appearances. He struggled to find time this season, although he looked solid when he did find time on the field.
“With Hagop, we have decided not to continue, so right now we are helping him in the process of understanding what the next step is for him.”
Until Tuesday afternoon, the Cosmos were one of only two active teams in the NASL without a single new player for 2016.
This changed with the signing of Michael Lahoud, a central midfielder on loan from the Philadelphia Union for the season. Lahoud spent the last four season with the Union and also played a World Cup qualifier for Sierra Leone.
However, before the arrival of Lahoud, many questions were raised about the absence of additions to the Cosmos line-up. With the departure of key figures like Marcos Senna, Raul, and the unlikelihood that Restrepo or Leo Fernandes would return, many questioned the lack of announcements while clubs like Tampa Bay and Minnesota were busy acquiring new pieces to create impressive rosters. But, there is a method to the madness.
“We find ourselves now with about 15 to 16 players that were already signed with us during the year,” explained the coach. “This gave us the possibility to be calmer, to look at players in a way that we want to make sure we bring quality, that we don’t rush into signing the first few guys that come along the table. We have had many players that have come through the table to sign, but we are very particular for this year to fill these positions in the best possible way for us.”
But the Cosmos have been busy and have been making moves.
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