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NASL Ticker: League announces expanded deal with ESPN; statement on Minnesota United departure; and more

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By RYAN TOLMICH

After broadcasting 30 matches with the company last season, the NASL is set to see a dramatic increase in ESPN broadcasts this season.

The NASL announced Thursday that the league has expanded its deal with ESPN to include the airing of a minimum of 120 matches in 75 different countries through ESPN3, ESPN Play, and ESPN Player.

“Working with ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, is going to be of great benefit to our fans, who will be able to watch the vast majority of our matches on ESPN3, ESPN Play, and ESPN Player this year,” said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson. “We have quickly developed a great relationship with ESPN, and we’re glad to be a part of their live coverage.”

Eight of the league’s clubs – the Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada FC, Minnesota United FC, San Antonio Scorpions, and Tampa Bay Rowdies – will air all 15 regular season home games live on ESPN3 in the U.S.

The New York Cosmos, Ottawa Fury FC, and FC Edmonton will offer home matches on their pre-existing broadcasting platforms, One World Sports, OttawaFuryFC.com and City TV Edmonton, respectively.

“Over the last few years, we’ve continued to elevate our broadcast capabilities, and this year is no different,” Peterson said. “Our evolving relationship with ESPN is helping us move closer to more advanced discussions about live event coverage in the future.”

Here are some more of Thursday’s NASL news and notes:

LEAGUE ISSUES STATEMENT ON MINNESOTA DEPARTURE

Despite being one of the league’s marquee teams, Minnesota United’s time in the NASL has an expiration date.

MLS announced Monday that Minnesota United is set to join the league in 2018, putting an end to the club’s time in the NASL that began with the league’s rebirth in 2011.

For the NASL, Minnesota United’s latest developments are demonstrative of the increasing growth of the league’s clubs, something which the league hopes to build upon with continued expansion.

“Our soccer landscape has been evolving at an unprecedented pace since the relaunch of the NASL in 2011,” the league said in a statement. “As the sport continues to grow, we anticipate making further announcements during the year concerning our own expansion and new partners. The developments in Minneapolis only serve to affirm once again, that the NASL is building high-caliber clubs, both on and off the field, and playing a leadership role in the evolution of professional soccer in North America.

“The announcement will not affect how we approach our plans for the future. We are as committed as ever to continuing the growth in our existing markets and expanding into new markets where we see great opportunities for our players and fans – the groups our league is built around. As we get closer to kicking off our fifth season on April 4, we look forward to another great year on and off the field.”

ROWDIES TOP FC EDMONTON IN PRESEASON MATCHUP

In the team’s first matchup with a fellow NASL club, the Tampa Bay Rowdies emerged victorious.

The Rowdies picked up a 2-1 victory, their sixth win of the preseason, Wednesday in a matchup with FC Edmonton in Jacksonville.

After a scoreless first half, Georgi Hristov opened the scoring in the 65th minute with a penalty kick on a penalty drawn by Justin Chavez. That scoreline was doubled by Brian Shriver 19 minutes later as the forward latched onto a pass from Darwin Espinal to score the game’s second goal.

The Rowdies were just moments away from a clean sheet before FC Edmonton’s Frank Jonke headed home a free kick in stoppage time to earn his side a consolation goal.

Following the victory, the Rowdies return to action Saturday against the Jacksonville Armada while FC Edmonton takes on the RailHawks that same day.

BARRETT SCORES TO LEAD ARMADA TO WIN OVER JACKSONVILLE UNIVERSITY

Akeil Barrett, the 25th overall pick in Janyary’s MLS Draft, made quite an impression in preseason action on Wednesday.

Barrett, who is currently a trialist after being released by Orlando City in February, provided the opening goal as the Jacksonville Armada topped Jacksonville University, 2-0, Wednesday on the JU campus.

The former Tulsa star opened the scoring in the 43rd minute on an assist from Tommy Krizanovic, who was one of four Armada stars to be facing off with their alma mater. Forward Jemal Johnson provided insurance just eight minutes later, curving a shot into the upper left corner for his first goal of the preseason.

The Armada will be back in action Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

What do you think of the NASL’s new deal with ESPN? How will Minnesota United’s departure impact the league going forward? What do you make of Wednesday’s preseason results?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. too much blah,blah,blah, start the season already!!! Both, Mls and Usl have started their season, what is the Nasl waiting for?? ‘Come on man! The Nasl season should start before D-3 season does! St Patrick’s day should be a good date to start off the season while soccer is still in the sports fan consciousness. NASL basically starts their season with baseball. (terrible idea). Mls hardly gets any mention on those so called “sports channels” to begin with, Never mind Nasl!! P.s. The Nasl should expand to 16 QUALITY teams. Period! What good it does to have 24 teams( like Mls plans on doing), if half those teams suck?

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  2. Good for NASL! Yeah, it’s only online ESPN3, but everybody’s cordcutting these days anyway. This is what they need if they are going to successful. They’re going to need bigger and bigger tv contracts if they are going to grow.

    I’m most definitely an MLSSnob, but I would like to see NASL be successful. I think the added pressure only makes both leagues work harder.

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  3. By 2017 NASL is loosing Atlanta, Minneapolis ( Minneapolis might go in 2017 or 2018 in MLS) and NASL will end up with 9 or 10 teams.
    If you ask me, that’s not bad and if they keep expanding, NASL could have 15 to 17 teams by 2020 but it depends if NASL gets owners and good markets.
    At this moment NASL needs a west (pacific time zone) team and they might easily find one in Eugene, the Bay Area, San Diego or LA.
    At the same time NASL needs okc, Virginia to get their issues straighten and Atlanta might end up in the USL for.
    I just think this is the time NASL matures and makes moves to be a real D2, and expands to reach 18 teams by 2020 and cosmos won’t leave NASL until they know NASL is ready to fly by themselves.
    Practically cosmos own NASL, cosmos are NASLs daddy and they won’t separate until NASL is ready to run on it’s own.
    This is where NASL should expand= Austin tx, Boise, Eugene, San Diego, Oakland, Birmingham, Nashville, El Paso tx, Albuquerque, Vegas, reno, Omaha, Des Moines, Birmingham.
    At this moment NASL needs to commit as a D2 and when lobbying owners of new markets,just admit you are D2 and believe in pro/reg one day will come and best of all,divide into 2 conferences just like MLS and USL.
    NASL can easily have 20 teams but divide into west and east and commit to be a D2.
    But repeat, If NASL commits to being a D2, then they might start getting interest from USL teams who are not MLS affiliates.
    Then NASL might get markets from USL, just like MLS gets NASL teams, simple as that but NASL needs to commit being a D2 first.
    20 teams should be good for NASL and maybe even 24 if they mature and admit MLS is better than them.
    Just have west and east conferences and play hard like a typical D2.
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  4. NASL’s “spot” is currently the 2nd tier but I think USL has petitioned to share (or potentially challenge for) that spot.

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  5. just me or did it sound like NASL is content with their spot on the pyramid? seems a little light compared to their previous desire to compete with MLS for the top tier.

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    • well, what are they going to do about it? I think theoretically they’re still desiring to be on part with MLS. However, its obvious that MLS has all the resources. I think NASL should maintain their division 2 status will trying to establish a certain niche. I think they should try to be more north american or continental wide in focus by bringing in Mexicali and another Canadian team (Quebec), and maybe even another Puerto Rican team. I think they can gain respect, but only progressing and winning such things as the open cup and ccl

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      • It is not simply a matter of resources. The USSF designated MLS as the top league in this country so MLS team represent us in the regional competitions such as Confacaf champions league. It is not a problem in and of itself, but the lack of promotion/relegation creates a closed system, which stifles the growth of soccer in this country. Under the current system, NASL clubs are stuck forever in the second tier league status. The best case scenario for them is what happened to Minnesota, i.e., they surrendered their independent status as a club and became a part of the MLS single entity (getting franchise status with the MLS rather than normal independent club status as in most world’s leagues).

    • Don’t underestimate web distribution. More and more people are watching TV on the internet only – cutting the cable. And that shift to web-only TV is only going to increase. The more “connected” devices people have (phone, Xbox, Roku, Apple TV, etc.), the less relevant “actual channels” become.

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