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A look back at one of the more curious fads in American professional sports, the sudden rise and precipitous fall of the North American Soccer League, spanning its existence 1968-1984, as seen through the experience of its most famous club, the New York Cosmos. The NASL made very little impact in the US, where soccer had virtually no following, until in 1975 the New York Cosmos succeeded in signing the most famous player in the world, Pele. Attendence for Cosmos games exploded, outdrawing even the New York Giants and New York Jets of the NFL, to where exhibition games in Seattle were drawing huge crowds, and when Pele announced his retirement in 1977 his final game drew the biggest crowd to ever see a soccer game in the US. His retirement from the game began a slow but steady decline for the NASL as money issues for the league and the spending practices of the Cosmos became a running controversy. Written by
Entertaining and lively documentary that has strong contributions really well edited together
In the 1970's a group of businessmen decided to bring football to the United States of America. Their best efforts were not really cutting it as the New York Cosmos were playing in a run-down stadium to small crowds and general media apathy. This all changed though when the signing of Pele made the sport the talk of the town. This documentary looks back at the rise of the Cosmos, with stars coming into the US sport and also the fall, where the television contract with ABC fell through.
A timely showing with the BBC Storyville season this one because it screened at more or less the time when David Beckham flew out to LA to join the Galaxy as the latest attempt to break America. Only time will see how that goes but one would hope he has a positive impact because otherwise it is a shame that he has not chosen to seek out more of a professional challenge rather than trying to break a nation. Anyway, regards of how Beckham does, this film does a good job of summarising the rise and fall of football (soccer) in the USA during the seventies and early eighties.
A little in the accessible style of "The Kid Stays in the Picture", the film makes great use of contributions to tell the story and it is impressively edited together to be fast-paced and interesting. It does help to be a fan of the sport but even if you are not the film still makes for an interesting sporting story. Contributors are edited across one another to make sure that we know that perhaps the truth is not out there (indeed one says that the makers will get a range of stories about who brought Pele to the Cosmos); stories are told within the main story (the dirt being painted green the best one for my money) and generally it is the people themselves who drive the story.
In regards this it is of course a shame that Pele is absent (due to the fee he demanded to take part in the film) but it is again a sign of how well put together it is that really you don't feel his absence that much. The others are all lively and interesting and I did like the way that the footage was edited together to allow for disagreement and energetic presentation of the subject again making it interesting even if you know nothing of the subject (and other than modern football in the UK, I confess to knowing very little of the NY Cosmos or the attempts to break the sport in the US market).
Overall then an enjoyable documentary that yet again demonstrates the value of the BBC Storyville stable. Thanks to the engaging contributions and impressive editing together of the whole package, the film is interesting and accessible throughout and does a great job of capturing a period in football's and US sports' history in a way that is entertaining and lively.
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