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We’ve Got History – Pele’s Debut for the New York Cosmos


For many critics of the American game (among a plethora of other complaints) they cite a lack of history of the sport in the United States. But contrary to popular belief, the beautiful game was established here for much longer than most realize.

It goes past 1996 and the foundation of Major League Soccer. Past the 1960s and 70s of the New York Cosmos and the North American Soccer League. Even past Joe Gaetjens and the 1950 “Miracle on Grass”. American soccer history is long and storied; nearly as old as it's European foundations.

We've got history. It's time to tell those tales.


See the full match and hundreds more video from American soccer history at

Thirty-seven years ago American soccer was forever changed when Brazilian legend made his debut for the New York Cosmos in an exhibition match against the Dallas Tornadoes.

In the match, Pele dazzled the crowd, assisting on the first goal and scoring the second in a 2-2 game at Downing Stadium on Randalls Island in New York.

The three-time World Cup champion was brought stateside to feature in what would becoming an even more star-studded line up as the years when on. Giorgio Chinaglia. Franz Beckenbauer, and Carlos Alberto just a few of the names that would grace the Cosmos squad in the next decade. 

Pele would play in 56 games between 1975 and 1977, scoring 31 times and brought record crowds to games in New York and around the United States.

Pele's inclusion into American soccer was a game changer for the struggling North American Soccer League. Teams burst their small budgets attempting to mirror the Cosmos' success and seven years after Pele the league folded. 

But for several years soccer blew up the U.S. sport scene. All was not lost as teams like the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, and Portland Timbers survived to return to today's Major League Soccer. The greater impact was the impression that Pele and the NASL left on a generation of new soccer fans. Hope that soccer could work in the United States with just a little smarter business plan.

Ten years after the NASL folded and nearly twenty after Pele's debut the U.S. hosted the 1994 World Cup and laid the foundation of top-flight, professional soccer (part of the deal in the U.S hosting the World Cup was to found Major League Soccer… it's premier two years later in 1996) in America.

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