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Nearly 80 Hopefuls Try Out for New York Cosmos at Flushing Meadows

By  Dylan Butler and Janet Upadhye | April 22, 2013 9:12am 

FLUSHING — Sam Archer’s pursuit of a professional soccer career has taken him to Colorado, Chicago, Harrisburg, Pa., Wilmington, N.C., and even Iceland.

And on Saturday, it took the 23-year-old from Cambria Heights to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The former John Adams High School and Rutgers University standout was among about 80 other hopefuls at the New York Cosmos open tryouts.

“It’s incredible,” Archer said. “If my luck pans out for me and I make this team, it will be better than anywhere I’ve been before because it would be right here in my hometown. It would be great.”

The club, which is set to embark on its second incarnation in the North American Soccer League, is holding tryouts in all five boroughs. It started last weekend in Brooklyn and continued Sunday at Macombs Dam Park in the shadows of Yankee Stadium, where the Cosmos of the 1970s once played.

That team, which featured international superstars like Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia, would draw sellout crowds at Giants Stadium in the late 1970s before the original NASL folded in 1984.

These Cosmos will take one player from each tryout — which also includes April 27 at Corporal Thompson Park in Staten Island and Pier 40 in Manhattan on May 4 — to join the team for its preseason training. The club will announce the winners after the final tryout.

Archer is hoping he can win a second open tryout in five months. The forward was selected from among a group of more than 150 players over the course of two days to join Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire for their preseason training camp in Florida.

Archer left the Fire for a trial with Íþróttabandalag Akraness in Iceland. But when that didn’t pan out, Archer returned home and trained on his own for this opportunity. 

Archer spent the 2012 preseason with the Colorado Rapids and later had brief stints with the Harrisburg City Islanders and the Wilmington Hammerheads in the USL Pro League.

“I know I have the ability to play at this level,” Archer said. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of luck and a coach liking you, but it would mean everything to play in my hometown.”

Playing a few yards from the site of the proposed soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park Saturday, Jakeem Johnson was hoping to kick-start his professional career with the Cosmos.

The 21-year-old forward from Montclair, N.J., played four years at Long Island University in Brooklyn and was second on the team this year with three goals. Johnson said LIU coach T.J. Kostecky, who is friends with Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese, told him about the tryout.

“I’m definitely really excited,” Johnson said. “I’ve been training for this for a while now. I can’t believe it's here already.”

The Cosmos hope to eventually compete in Major League Soccer, and will kick off their first season in the second-tier NASL Aug. 3 against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University.

They also dream of building a 25,000-seat stadium at Belmont Park in Elmont, L.I. The plan includes a 175-room hotel, retail space and a new public park.

Yigit Eryildiz would like to be on the team in August, which is why he made the trek from Huntington, Long Island, Saturday. The 25-year-old defensive midfielder, who played at New York Institute of Technology from 2006-10, grew up learning the sport in Turkey. That’s where his uncle, Murat Biyik, played professionally for Ankaraspor A.S. in the Turkish Super League.

“That was one of my biggest goals. I’ve always watched his games there and always wanted to play,” Eryildiz said. “I wanted to get myself to a professional level and I believe I have the skills.”