November 15, 2015
GOING OUT ON TOP
Raul, Marcos Senna retire as NASL champions
By Michael Lewis
Marcos Senna: “To win next to Raul was an ideal situation. "I’m thankful for him being here throughout the year as he made the difference many times and scored many goals.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Quite appropriately, they left the field as champions, on the shoulders of their teammates.
After all, Raul and Marcos Senna put their teammates on their respective shoulders at times during their tenure with the Cosmos.
Those two Spanish legends closed out their illustrious careers on top as the Cosmos captured their unprecedented seventh North American Soccer League title behind a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Fury FC at Shuart Stadium Sunday night.
Needless to say, Raul had mixed emotions about leaving the playing field one last time, calling it a career after some two decades of terrorizing opposing defenders and goalkeepers.
"This is like a dream, to finish in one final, to win one difficult game," said Raul, who assisted on Gaston Cellerino's third goal in the 85th minute. "I am very happy and I am very sad.
"I have one part of my heart for the Cosmos.”
Senna, who scored the game-winner in the 1-0 Soccer Bowl win over the Atlanta Silverbacks two years ago to give the Cosmos their first NASL title in 31 years, was happy as well and was happy he went out with Raul.
“To win next to Raul was an ideal situation," he said through an interpreter. "I’m thankful for him being here throughout the year as he made the difference many times and scored many goals. In addition, today he didn’t get the goal, but he got the assist. He’s a player that is a game-changer.”
Both players will go on to new challenges off the field. Senna hasn't detailed his plans, although Raul will be a part of the Cosmos youth academy for the next year, which he called his new project.
“We feel very lucky, our organization, to have these two great players retire with us,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “These two great players I had the pleasure to coach makes a coach’s life easier because of the quality when they play.
“They were very important all year to push everybody to higher standards. The way they finished their careers today couldn’t be any other way because they’ve been successful.”
Needless to say, they will be tough acts to follow, not having two experienced players who have done it just about all.
“We’re going to miss them tremendously, most importantly, two great people,” Cosmos captain and center back Carlos Mendes said. “I think they are top professionals who came in and trained hard every day and their experience has rubbed off on the guys. You can’t really replace Marcos and Raul and obviously the locker room will be different next year.”
The Cosmos will worry about that in the coming months.
For Sunday night, Raul and Marcos Senna were able to say they left the beautiful game on top.