On 1 August 2010, Pelé announced the return of the New York Cosmos after a 25-year hiatus, with the former star serving as the club's honorary president.
The earlier incarnation of the Cosmos existed from 1971 to 1985, during which time they captured a global audience through the signings of such high-profile international players as Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, and Giorgio Chinaglia alongside homegrown players like Werner Roth and Shep Messing. But the five-time NASL champions went dormant in 1985 after the implosion of the league.
Former general manager Peppe Pinton acquired ownership of the Cosmos, including the rights to the name, logo, and all club records. With the introduction of MLS in 1996, several groups sought to acquire the rights from Pinton, but he refused to sell, citing a belief that the new league would not respect the club's history. But he eventually relented and sold the rights in 2009 to a group led by former Tottenham vice-chairman Paul Kemsley.
The new owners moved quickly to link themselves with the club's legacy by appointing Pelé as the honorary president and expressed their intent to play in MLS. They soon added Chinaglia as the club's global ambassador and appointed former Manchester United star Eric Cantona as the team's director of soccer. They held their first match on 5 August 2011, playing against Manchester United in a friendly.
Despite the ambitious relaunch, the Cosmos were unable to secure an MLS spot. In July 2012, they announced that they would compete in the North American Soccer League starting in 2013.