Reborn Cosmos debut Saturday night at Hofstra

Cosmos midfielder Marcos Senna speaks to the media

Cosmos midfielder Marcos Senna speaks to the media during a news conference at The Football Factory. The club will play its home games at Hofstra University's Shuart Stadium. (July 29, 2013) Photo Credit: James Escher

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The Cosmos are playing Saturday night.

No, you don't have to jump into a DeLorean with Doc Brown, go 88 mph and travel through time to see the game. Simply head to Hofstra University.

That's where, after a nearly 30-year absence, Cosmos soccer will be reborn when they kick off their 14-game season in the North American Soccer League against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Shuart Stadium.

It will be the first Cosmos game since 1984, and for defender Carlos Mendes, it will have added meaning. The 32-year-old grew up in Mineola and graduated in 1998 from Wheatley High School, where he played varsity soccer.

He remembers his parents, who came from Portugal, regularly attending Cosmos games when he was younger.

Now he'll be the one people are coming to see.

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"It's definitely extra-special for me, being a local guy and playing at home in front of friends and family," Mendes said. "Last year, I heard they were putting it back together. In the back of my mind, I knew already that maybe I'd have an opportunity to be here. My wish came true and it's a huge honor."

The Cosmos' website features some catchy slogans such as "Twice in a Lifetime" and "Don't Call It a Comeback." But the truth is, it is a comeback, one that provided the chance to extend the rich history of the Cosmos. That opportunity is what enticed 37-year-old star midfielder Marcos Senna to join the club.

"There was never any doubt in my mind about what I wanted to do," he said. "I wanted to lend my services to more than just the game but to the movement behind the cause."

That cause is to build on a legacy, continue to help the game of soccer grow -- as the original Cosmos once did -- and ultimately break ground on a proposed $400-million stadium near Belmont Park.

To do so in a city that offers fans plenty of options for their entertainment dollar, the Cosmos will have to put an attractive product on the field. They'll feature a blend of young talent and experienced veterans and expect to be a team that will play the ball to feet and counterattack.

"We'll try to be a dynamic club, have possession in the game and be offensive-minded, but also have a well-balanced team," coach Giovanni Savarese said. "Overall, our commitment is to let the people who come to the matches enjoy what they see."

And they won't need a time machine to see it.

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