Far from the Bernabeu, Raul makes modest start with Cosmos

Sun Apr 5, 2015 1:30am EDT
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By Simon Evans

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (Reuters) - In a run-down stadium on the industrial outskirts of Florida's Fort Lauderdale, record Real Madrid goal-scorer Raul made his belated debut for U.S. second division side New York Cosmos on Saturday.

While former Spain team mate David Villa enjoyed a debut with New York City in front of 40,000 fans at Yankee Stadium last month, fewer than 12,000 turned up to watch Raul play on a field showing the markings from a recent American football game.

The 37-year-old signed in October with the Cosmos, who play in the North American Soccer League, a tier below Major League Soccer, but had to wait through the winter off-season before making his first league start.

Raul, who scored a club record 323 times in 741 games for Real, is also serving as a technical adviser for the Cosmos youth academy, which he will take over on a full-time basis when he retires from playing.

Lockhart Stadium was the home to the original Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the 1970s and 80s, a side featuring former greats George Best and Gerd Mueller.

The venue appears to have changed little since those days.

Despite the low-key surrounds, Raul said he was not affected by playing at a venue that pales in comparison to Real's Santiago Bernabeu.

“Football is the same thing, same dimensions in the goals, a ball," said Raul after his side's 1-0 win.   Continued...