Cosmos Mourn Loss of Former Player and Foe, Tommy Ord

Published Dec 15, 2020
Tommy Ord played six games for the New York Cosmos, but he made history playing against the North American Soccer League juggernaut back in the day.
He holds the distinction of being the only player who was on the field for Pelé's first NASL goal and in the Black Pearl's final competitive match.
Ord passed away in Newcastle, England on Tuesday morning. He was 68.
In 1975, Ord performed for the Rochester Lancers in the Cosmos' 3-0 win as Pelé tallied a goal in Rochester, the Brazilian superstar's third regular-season game.
Ord enjoyed a career year with the Lancers, registering 14 goals and four assists in 18 games (the team tallied only 29 goals en route to a 6-16 record), having a few intriguing battles with Cosmos center back Werner Roth.
"He's got a good shot," Roth said after Ord scored twice in a 3-2 loss to Rochester. "He's their big gun, so we were specifically concentrating on him. You have to have one man on him at all times because he's difficult to cover."
In an interview with, former Cosmos forward Joe Fink said: "He had a very, very good season in Rochester and scored a lot of goals. A big target man, and quite impressive. I would say one of the more dominant center forwards in the league back then.”
Later in 1975, the Englishman was traded to the Cosmos for $75,000, which at the time was the largest transaction between two NASL teams. That might sound like peanuts compared to today's sky-high transfer fees.
"That was an incredible amount of money back then when we were making $2,000 a year," Fink said. "I don't even think Tommy Ord was probably making in Rochester $2,000 or $3,000 a season. To be sold for $75,000 was a tremendous amount of money. It was a very big deal back then. I guess that's when Warner [Communications, Cosmos owners] was getting ready to open the purse strings."
Given that he had an opportunity to play with the greatest player of the game, Ord embraced the trade.
"I feel like I've been reborn," he was quoted by sportswriter Dave Hirshey in the New York Daily News. "Coming to New York has to make me a better player. If I scored 14 goals for Rochester, I should score double that here. It's every player's ambition to play with Pelé. I used to watch him on the tele as a kid in London. I never imagined I'd have a chance to play with him."
Several days after the deal, Ord, then 23, scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over the Lancers at Downing Stadium on Randall's Island.
"I don't want this to sound cocky," Ord said prior to the match. "But every time I get the ball, I feel I can score. Tonight? I'd like to get at least two goals."
Pelé, who didn't play because of a left thigh injury, liked what he saw from the bench. "He's a good player," O Rei said. "He's dangerous and opportunistic around the goal. He's worth every penny we paid for him."
Ord finished tied for third among league goal-scorers (16).
With Giorgio Chinaglia ready to join the team for 1976, the Cosmos dealt Ord to the Vancouver Whitecaps, who dealt the striker to the Seattle Sounders during the 1977 season. Continuing the tradition of haunting his former teams, Ord scored one goal and assisted on another to lift Seattle to a 2-0 win over Vancouver in the NASL playoffs.
He cashed in on another opportunity to make life difficult for a former side, starting for Seattle in Soccer Bowl '77 against the Cosmos in Portland. He connected for the equalizing goal in the 24th minute (his ninth goal in 10 games) after Steve Hunt's goal had given New York a 1-0 lead. Giorgio Chinaglia headed home the game-winner in the 78th minute.
Born in England, Ord worked his way through the Chelsea youth system. He played three times for the English club, scoring once. He then journeyed to North America to play for the Montreal Olympique in the NASL in 1973 before signing with Rochester for the 1974-75 seasons.
Besides the Cosmos and Sounders, Ord also played for the Tulsa Roughnecks and Atlanta Chiefs in the NASL and the Buffalo Stallions and Phoenix Inferno in the Major Indoor Soccer League before retiring in 1981.