Once upon a time there was a galaxy of stars which burned bright in the "Big Apple", a trio of world champions who played football from another planet and sparked a U.S. love affair with the beautiful game.
The star-spangled North American Soccer League (NASL) and the New York Cosmos, for a brief time, helped football take off on the other side of the Atlantic.
Pele, widely regarded as the finest footballer of all time, his fellow Brazilian Carlos Alberto and German great Franz Beckenbauer formed the formidable spine of the New York Cosmos -- the most-celebrated team in U.S. soccer history.
"Before joining the Cosmos I was playing for Flamengo in Brazil," Carlos Alberto, who left Flamengo to join the Cosmos in 1977, told CNN. "We'd read in the newspaper everyday how successful football was in New York.
"Every game they broke records for people at the game, 75,000, 77,000, 78,000... I thought, I can't miss out on this!"
A crowd of 73,064 watched on at Giants Stadium as the Cosmos beat the Seattle Sounders in August 1978 to win a second consecutive Soccer Bowl, the NASL's championship match.
But by 1984, the team built around Pele, Carlos Alberto and Beckenbauer, along with the NASL, had sunk into a blackhole of obscurity.
"The Cosmos means a lot to me," reflected Carlos Alberto, who played 100 times for the club in two separate spells. "I had great moments during the six years I was in New York. We contributed a lot to bringing football, soccer to the States.
"I loved New York. My dream today is to see the new New York Cosmos come back and be a great success."
His dream could be about to come true.
After nearly three decades in the dark, the fabled name of the Cosmos is staging a reawakening in the city that never sleeps.
This week Pele stood alongside the Cosmos' latest Brazil-born star Marcos Senna to turn the top of the Empire State Building green and announce the club's return to competitive action.
An August 3 fixture against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in a relaunched NASL will be the Cosmos' first league fixture since September 15, 1984.
The latest incarnation of the NASL is an eight-team competition, which is unrelated to the U.S.'s current leading football competition Major League Soccer (MLS).
"I think the potential is enormous," the Cosmos' COO Erik Stover told CNN. "Everybody remembers the Cosmos and everybody has a story about it. We certainly have the potential to do that again."
The club was refounded in 2010 and a host of former stars have aligned to boost the returning team's profile.
The Cosmos are once again competing in the NASL, which has been up and running as an eight-team league since 2011.
The league has the enviable task of matching MLS, which was established as part of the U.S.'s successful bid to host the 1994 World Cup and has housed star names like David Beckham and Thierry Henry.
Stover knows more than most about creating a New York soccer success stories.
For three years the Pennsylvanian worked at the city's biggest Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise the New York Red Bulls, helping the club move into the purpose-built, 25,000-seater Red Bull Arena.
He plans to repeat the trick for the Cosmos with plans already in place for a $400m stadium complex in Belmont Park area.
Stover also played a part in bringing Thierry Henry, a world and European champion with France, to the States from Barcelona in 2010.
While the Cosmos' history is littered with stellar names, the modern-day team are starting from humble beginnings -- namely the Matchroom Stadium in London.
It is home to third-tier English club Leyton Orient and the venue for a key exhibition match for coach Giovanni Savarese's newly-built team.
The Cosmos lost 2-1.