By ILYA KEYGEN
There is something to be said about going out on top.
That is how the New York Cosmos will try send off their two retiring mega stars, Raul Gonzalez Blanco and Marcos Senna. The Cosmos will face the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the semi finals of the NASL playoffs on November 7th at MCU Park.
“We want to send them off as champions,” said Jimmy Maurer, the starting goalkeeper for the Cosmos. “They are true professionals who train hard and you can see why they were able to accomplish so much in their careers.”
Gonzalez-Blanco, 38, is a Spanish soccer legend that made his mark for Real Madrid in the Spanish premier league. He played a record 741 games for Madrid in all competitions, scoring 323 goals. He won six league titles and three UEFA Champion League titles. He also won four Spanish cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one UEFA Super cup.
After leaving Madrid in 2010, Raul went on to play for Schalka 04 in the German league, winning the league German league cup in 2011 and the following Super cup in 2012. In 2012 he went on to play in the Qatar league for Al Sadd, winning the league in 2012 and the cup in 2014. After the 2014, Raul announced that he was retiring, only to change his mind and join the Cosmos. He led them to the top of the NASL spring season in 2015.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself,” said Carlos Mendes, captain of the Cosmos. “It is a great opportunity for us and we are playing well.”
Marcos Senna, 38, also made a name for himself in the Spanish premier league with Villarreal. Born in Brazil, Senna became a naturalized Spanish citizen in 2006. He went on to win the UEFA European Championship in 2008 with Spain. Senna’s best club finish was second with Vallarreal, also in 2008 when Raul’s Real Madrid finished first. He joined the Cosmos in 2013 and played in their inaugural match, a 2-1 victory against Fort Lauderdale.
The Cosmos are undefeated against the Strikers since their entrance into the league. The last meeting between the two teams resulted in a 2-0 victory for the Cosmos. The one before that was a thrilling 3-3 draw, where the Strikers scored the first three goals only to give up the next three.
“They are a difficult team and we expect a difficult match,” said head coach Giovanni Savarese. “The past results do not effect to the game.”