By RYAN TOLMICH
Entering the league’s fifth season, the NASL is set to field its eleventh team team: the Jacksonville Armada. However, talk surrounding a pair of franchises waiting in the wings has remained quiet in recent months.
The Virginia Cavalry and Oklahoma City FC have been announced by the league as future expansion teams, and both teams had originally announced that they were set to begin play in 2015. However, those plans did not come to pass for a variety of reasons, casting doubt over the team’s immediate future.
In the case of Oklahoma City, issues involving ownership derailed the team’s plans, as one of the partners in the team, Tim McLaughlin, had bought a 50 percent ownership stake in the rival franchise Oklahoma City Energy. For the Cavalry, constant stadium construction issues and ownership reorganizations have caused delay after delay, pushing the team’s debut back to 2016.
NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson admits that things haven’t quite gone to plan with the development of his latest expansion sides, while also making it clear the league plans to keep things close to the vest while ownership is sorted out.
“We haven’t announced any developments because we really don’t want to have to go through what we’ve had to go through again,” Peterson told SBI. “The expansion process is a complicated process, one that we take very seriously. We move cautiously as we go through the process and it can come undone at any point. Unfortunately, with both of those situations, the teams actually announced that they were going to play.
“In Virginia’s case, maybe it was a little premature. In Oklahoma’s case, something happened that I’ve never seen before in my life. Both groups are working on reorganizing and getting things in place.”
Peterson also says that one of those teams is further along than the other, although the commissioner would not say which. Regardless, the league remains both focused and optimistic on pushing both teams toward joining the league, while also continuing conversations with new markets.
“One of them is further a long than the other and we could see them (make an announcement) in maybe a month, maybe six weeks,” Peterson said. “We’re pretty optimistic and there’s a lot of work going on, but it’s not done yet so we’re not going to announce it or talk too much about it.
“The other one is a little bit further behind still and focused on getting back in, but there’s another set of circumstances in that could interfere with all of this that might not work out. In addition to that, we have multiple conversations going on in different parts of North America with groups that are going through the process. Some of those are looking very favorable, but they’re not at the finish line. ”
The other elephant in the room remains the league’s sanctioning within U.S. Soccer, which requires leagues to have a presence in three time zones by year six, or the 2016 NASL season. Regardless of sanctioning, Peterson remains unconcerned, and insists the league will continue to handle things on their time in pursuit of the league’s goal of 18-20 teams.
“We’re just going about our business, but this requirement to have teams on the west coast will take care of itself,” Peterson said. “We’re not going to make decisions just to satisfy that requirement. We’re going to make decisions that are best for the overall growth of the league, but I can tell you that they will end up satisfying that requirement, so that’s not something we even think about.
“It’s unfortunate with Virginia and Oklahoma City, but we’re just getting started here and it’s not always going to work out exactly as you expect it to because we have more interest than we’ve ever had with quality ownership groups that get the vision and want to be in this league. We’re going to get to 18 to 20 teams soon enough. I don’t know exactly when, there’s no deadline, but we’ll get there soon enough.”
Once MLS has finished expanding and turning USL pro into its reserve division primarily to eliminate as many potential NASL expansion cities as possible, there will still be 45+ cities in USA and Canada that have populations large enough to support a NASL club….it may take longer but unless Garber and his semite ownership of MLS buy NASL outright and turn it into MLS2thus creating the possibility for rel/pro..NASL will carry on its way slow but sure…when MLS has divided up all its profits from TV and new franchise fees and finds the PU screaming for a better deal than the laughable joke they just settled for…NASL will be there…maybe 14, 16 or 18 clubs…there will always be room for a NASL as long as it lives within its own means and in time will see as many North and Central americans on their rosters as MLS because higher wages means more Europeans and latinos pushing marginal americans out of roster spots…they will go to NASL instead of USL with an axe to grind that willonly serve to amp up the rivalry…
I really wonder how the Cosmos salaries are set up, since they’re most likely the only team close to MLS teams. I’m mostly curious because I don’t think this little partnership with NASL is going to fit their aspirations, unless its all just posturing.
Fyi, any ownership group that wants into MLS has to pay the $100M fee. NASL, MLS and USL are completely separate entities.
For now, not like that’s always been set in stone all these years
Interesting. I find the MLS vs NASL dynamic fascinating, but NASL may fizzle out sooner than I thought, depending on the next few years. If MLS swoops in and takes San Antonio, Minnesota, and Indiana then the league would be put even farther behind. I’ve wonder why they didn’t go after already established teams like MLS does, like Rochester, and why they don’t go after these interrelated cities like Las Vegas who haven’t won an MLS bid. It just seems counter productive to say “we’re going to outgrow MLS, even though MLS keeps taking our top teams once they’re established and growing.” If the Cosmos were to commit to MLS then who knows of this league would even exist anymore.
It could get even worse if USL makes it to D2 status and essentially becomes MLS2, and you potentially have a 40 (give or take) team two division pro/reg setup. Then what NASL?
I still don’t see MLS moving to pro/rel with a 40 team setup. Are they really going to take the chance that NYCFC and their $100m+ investment could go down and be replaced by Wilmington or Rochester?
Well it’s not a given they will be, in fact it’s very unlikely with their pocket books. There are plenty of European teams who have never been relegated. How nice would it have been if Sacramento could have replaced Chivas for this year?
And I think we would need to move past the stigma of being a minor league in American sense. It would still be a highly competive league, it would be almost like conferences (similar to the talent gap between the east and west in the NBA right now) and the United States is so big that it could support 40 teams. Still though, NASL seems like the kid on the sideline screaming for attention because he didn’t get picked
I get the feeling, Nasl and their front office have a price ready for san antonio, minneapolis, cosmos and indy once MLS comes knocking they want them.
Then if they do leave nasl, then what happens to nasl.
So in other words, nasl needs to expand to 25 teams, so they can end with 20 teams right.
I don’t think they have a price, i’m sure there is a minor fee (maybe 1-2 million) but I don’t think these teams would have joined NASL (Indy just last year) if they had to pay a big fee to go to MLS which is 3/4 of the teams ultimate goals’. What is the end game for NASL when 3 of their best clubs leave and they have 8 and are struggling with expansion.
8 clubs end up joining USL, no way MLS lets there be 3 NY teams, so either someone rich buys both Cosmos and Red Bull (which would make me happy even though I hate the cosmos management and find their fans delusional) and merges them or they re go the way of the dodo bird as their we’re the best team in America nonsense goes won’t fly in USL which isn’t pretending to be a 1st division league.
Could Oklahoma City really support a USL team and an NASL team? Thoughts? Anyone?
I wonder what the end game is for NASL. I guess there’s a market for minor league sports but their insistence on challenging MLS instead of accepting their role in the pyramid makes things harder for them.
Trust me, although they strongly don’t mention it, i know they accept their position in the pyramid.
However, in order to grow the league the way they want it too, I think its smart to “challenge/compete” with the MLS. Thats what the pyramid needs.
Youre right, admitting is the first step to success and recovery.
Probably every nasl team has to pay a fee to move to mls and usl teams might not, which might hurt nasl expansion and help usl grow.
Lets not forget usl and mls have a secret communication, while nasl is fighting on there own and wil probably end up selling their teams to mls or usl.
But in reality, why cant MLS just make a damn MLS2 and later a 3 & 4.
For now lets enjoy the ride and wait for 2020.
I wonder that too slow.
What does their 10 year plan look like ? MLS’ dream is to be a top league. NASL ?
I don’t believe them to be D2, btw. But are they really trying to get to be as big as MLS ?
Because if you look at it without the MLS Hater rosecolored glasses on…many teams draw less than Sounders’ games that were sparcely attended 20 years ago in USL. I have no problem with that, and I hope the fans are enjoying like I used too.
….but there is no way they think, it is going to take off just give time…do they ?
Wait, there’s a pyramid in US soccer? Maybe on paper, but I just don’t see it in reality.
You need ambition and it might ultimately lead to a merger with MLS. I like that NASL has free agency. I find it interesting that they added a team in Ashburn, VA. While that is suburbia it does seem like they are directly competing with DC United. I really wish Baltimore would put some effort into getting a team.
I think they’re end game is to be the best they can be in non mls markets (except for NY Cosmos of course who compete with 2 mls teams in their market) as D2 with 18-20 teams and averaging 10-12K, as the sole independant pro league aside from mls. The talk of rivaling mls is sales talk mostly but they can be successful in this position as D2 and with usl being another model as mls’s minor league/farm team league at a slightly lower level of quality at the same D2 level or D3. There’s room for all three leagues to be successful and co-exist and better than the mls borg controlling all three top levels alone.
Nasl or USL would be a hit in El Paso tx. At this moment we have tripleA baseball but el paso is a soccer town.
Last year, MLS and El Paso met about having MLS in the future, but El Paso needs to start with Nasl or USL.
We also have this rich oil person who is a billionaire in El Paso, that has a mexican wife who also has money and she likes soccer.
The rumor going around here in El Paso,tx is that Paul Foster and his rich mexican wife will unite powers with exowner of Chivas usa Jorge Vergara and his wife to bring back division 2 soccer across the border in Juarez, Chihuahua.
I honestly think that would be a powerful ownership group and ligamx wouldn’t mind putting a ligamx team in El Paso,tx or back in Juarez.
And for those who think tijuana came out no where, well they didn’t, they copied juarez indios d1 team in everything.
But in all seriousness, I agree with you that they should have a team in the NASL, especially when SA goes to the MLS.
Texas is soccer rich, and the amount of pro teams that are currently there, should speak for itself.
San Antonio Scorpions
Good luck on getting your team!
We used to have the el paso patriots. The owner pulled out since the city council didn’t want to help the team get a new little stadium or let them play at a fancy high school stadium.
The owner couldn’t make it on his own and had to step down but according to the el paso patriots, one day they will be back.
You can google el paso patriots and you can read the history of them. I was there when the eppatriots lost against the richmond kickers for a trophy, i cant recall which tournament or league title it was.
As a matter of fact, the eppatriots would average around 7,000 to 10,000 back in the day and it was a rowdy environment. You can also google juarez cobras, juarez indios.
Some college buddies of mine have plans to start a supporters group by the name of suncity bandits or borderland bandits. Hopefully they do and we get nasl or usl or ligamx back in juarez or here in the suncity.
You should talk to your buddy, Soccer God, and make it happen 😉