Looking to make a splash in an increasingly crowded NYC soccer market, the New York Cosmos signed Spanish star Raúl, Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer, last fall. Redoubling their efforts to capture the attention of New York City’s fans, they’ve also scheduled a match in Brooklyn for this Saturday, May 2—their first ever in the borough. During preparations for his side's Coney Island kickoff, Raúl—who moved to New York City with his wife and five children in December 2014—sat down to talk about his transition to the North American Soccer League and life in Manhattan.
This interview is also available in a translated Spanish version. Find it here.
How do you feel about your play as a team and an individual so far this season?
We are happy, but we need to improve the little things—the tactics and the individual performances. I think we are headed in the right direction. I'm very happy, but it's not easy to play in a different country, in a different league, with different [artificial] turf. Also, I had a little bit of a problem with my hamstring the past two weeks, but now I feel much better.
New York has two Major League Soccer teams: the Red Bulls and now New York City FC. Last year, one of the Cosmos' best moments was beating the Red Bulls in the US Open Cup. Do you look forward to that tournament as a chance to face your City rivals?
For us, of course, the US Open Cup would be a good chance to play against the MLS teams. We want to win. We know it is very difficult; we have to go step by step. But this Cup is a big opportunity for us. We have a good team, and to be honest I think we have the quality to win against any team.
You moved to the Upper East Side with your family in December. What do you like about it?
It's a very nice area with a lot of families and good restaurants. It's close to Central Park, my favorite place in New York. I spend time with my kids there, and it is so beautiful. I think New York is amazing—not only Manhattan. I just went to Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the view [of the Manhattan skyline] is amazing.
Other than going to Central Park, what do you like to do with your family here?
With the kids, we go to the theater to see the shows. You have the best shows in the world here, no? And they love it.
What have your favorite shows been so far?
The last one I saw with my wife and kids was Matilda. It was very nice for the kids. And we saw Mamma Mia!; this is a classic. You know, with five kids, you don't have a lot of time. But we have to go see more shows.
You've traveled all around the world. What's been the best change in your life since you've moved to New York City?
The best thing is that I can walk in the street like a normal person. For me, with my family, this is perfect. I have privacy. [In Spain], the people recognize me. But here, there are more important sports like American football, basketball and baseball. Soccer, step by step, is growing up. But it is very different here than in Europe or South America.