Marc My Words!

Marc Maturo’s official sports column

Restaurateur Pinton marches on as World Cup heats up

Peppe Pinton, R, with the legendary Pele
Peppe Pinton, R, with the legendary Pele

 

Peppe Pinton, with his dear friend, the late Georgio Chinaglia
Peppe Pinton, with his dear friend, the late Georgio Chinaglia

On the heels of the United States’ victory over Ghana in their World Cup soccer opener, we caught up with Rockland restaurateur Peppe Pinton, who has more than 40 years’ involvement with the sport known worldwide as ‘futbol.’

Pinton, currently renovating Il Portico in the historic district of Tappan — which has been closed for five months following damage done by a wayward automobile — made his bones during the 1970’s as first the general manager and then owner and CEO of the famed New York Cosmos. In those halcyon days, the Cosmos attracted crowds of 70,000 and more to a raucous Giants Stadium, after Pinton helped to bring in striker Georgio Chinaglia from Italy, sweeper Franz Beckenbauer from West Germany and the man generally recognized as the greatest ever in the game, Pele, a forward who led Brazil to a record five World Cup Championships.

Pinton, who also owned the great first-division team S.S. Lazio in Italy at the same time, becoming an inter-continental commuter going from New York to Rome, retained the rights to the Cosmos name after the then-North American Soccer League (NASL) folded. In 2010, Pinton sold the rights to the Cosmos name but continues his involvement with the sport operating camps, including at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J., where he continues to coach and is proud to note that he took the team to the NCAA Tournament.

“I’ll tell you one thing, at the end of the day, this whole thing will come down to Brazil-Argentina, Germany-Italy,” said Pinton, discussing the ongoing World Cup in Brazil (the U.S. next takes on Portugal on June 22 as Group play continues). “Logically, there is the European segment, the European factor. Netherlands (big victor over defending champion Spain in their opener) showed some character but Germany is the favorite for me although you can never count out Italy. Spain has to do some miracle to repeat. I watch as many games as I can.”

Pinton is thrilled that the Cosmos have been revived in the resurrected version of the NASL, currently competing in a temporary home at Hofstra University.

“It’s amazing,” offered Pinton. “Just the other day the Cosmos and the (New York) Red Bulls (a Major League Soccer franchise) met for the U.S. Open Challenge Cup and the Cosmos had a big advantage; they won 3-0. This is my remark: it’s a good beginning. As for me, I’m retired from big-time soccer, presently retired. You move on, you can’t do the same thing over and over.”

Pinton, who has been around some of the world’s greatest players — “big-time,” he said — ticked off the names of Chinaglia, Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto Torres, the great Brazilian defender, among others. “You can’t get bigger than that. But the best of all-time, no question, is Pele; no question, in all aspects. Other players have one thing, or another thing, but no one will ever will come close (to Pele) in my lifetime, or maybe even after.”

Extra time: The Cosmos are teaming up with Rivertowns United/AYSO 324, Make A Wish – Hudson Valley and Mercy College to use soccer as a vehicle to grant Wishes to The Make A Wish Foundation (Hudson Valley). The three-day soccer clinic, slated June 22-24 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., is open to youngsters ages 5-15 and will be held at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry with the goal of raising enough money to grant a special wish to a child in the Hudson Valley. The cost of participation is $100 and all revenue raised goes directly to the Make A Wish Foundation – Hudson Valley. Access: https://ayso324.sportssignup.com.

QUICK HITTERS: SUNY Potsdam, where junior guard Greg Torchon of Spring Valley was a junior captain on the men’s basketball team, is hosting the 44th Potsdam Bears International Summer Basketball Camp from July 13-17.

Matt Nandin, big week
Matt Nandin, big week

Register online or contact the Center for Lifelong Education and Recreation Office at 315-267-2167. Visit the Bears website for details at: https://clear.potsdam.edu/wconnect/ace/CourseStatus.awp?&course=145CMP1003 … Rockland Boulders second baseman Matt Nandin was named the Pointstreak Player of the Week in the Can-Am League, marking the third time this season a Boulders player has been honored. Nandin hit .417 in six games for Rockland in the marking period, helping the Boulders to a 4-2 record. Nandin, a Syracuse native and six-year Can-Am League veteran, compiled an on-base percentage of .464 batting in the leadoff position. The Boulders, who are on a Midwest trip to meet St. Paul from June 20-22 and Sioux City June 23-26, return to Provident Bank Park in Pomona on June 27 to open a three-game series against the New Jersey Jackals.

MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT: The fifth annual Crotty-Kronkowski Memorial Baseball Tournament opens June 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Vincent Crotty Field in Suffern, with the host Rockland Royals, managed by Vinnie Randazzo, meeting the New City Outlaws, who compete in the Westchester Rockland Wood Bat League. Last year, the Outlaws turned back the Hastings Lookouts to take home the trophy.  The Outlaws’ Mike Oliva, in 2010, and Mike Mordeci and Wes Poppe, in 2011, earned MVP accolades.

The tournament is held each year in memory of former Suffern HS students Vincent Crotty of Montebello and Christopher Konkowski of Airmont, both of whom died tragically in an automobile accident in March 2010.

The tournament shifts to Suffern High School on June 21 and June 22.

Schedule: June 21: Rockland Astros-Pearl River Salty Dogs, 10 a.m.; Outlaws-Hudson Valley River Dogs, 12:30 p.m.; Rutherford Rays-Salty Dogs, 12:30 p.m.; Astros-Rays, 3 p.m.; River Dogs-Royals, 5:30 p.m. June 22: 10 a.m., semifinal; 12:30 p.m., semifinal; 3 p.m., championship.

THIS & THAT: The Univision Deportes Network is dedicating 24-hour coverage of the FIFA World Cup and live-stream all 64 matches on mobile apps and online. UDN’s programming will be focused exclusively on the World Cup around the clock  for the duration of the tournament. Access: (http://www.hispanictrending.net/2014/05/univisions-massive-world-cup-lineup-includes-live-streaming-64-matches-on-mobile-online.html … Bayern Munich is looking for a marketing intern based in New York to help them manage all the details of their summer tour and other new initiatives for their brand in the United States. The opening is immediate for the summer to those interested in soccer, branding and sports business. Interested candidates can contact benno.ruwe@bayernmunich.com.