The 2016 NASL season schedule is out, as the circuit drops the Atlanta Silverbacks and San Antonio Scorpions for the year and adds Miami FC, Puerto Rico FC and Rayo OKC over the course of the spring and fall seasons.
It’s an unbalanced schedule. Each club will play each other once in the Spring Season, hosting five clashes at home and playing the other five away for a grand total of 10 matches. In the Fall Season, when expansion side Puerto Rico FC joins the fold, each club will play each other twice — once home and once away — for a total of 22 matches.
The Spring Season kicks off on Saturday, April 2, with a series of interesting matchups. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers will host league newcomer — and neighbor — Miami FC on April 2. Another club playing in its inaugural match will be Rayo OKC, who will clash with Canadian side FC Edmonton on April 2 at Miller Stadium.
A new chapter will begin in Carolina as the RailHawks begin their first full season under new owner Steve Malik at home against Minnesota United FC on April 2.
“We’re already counting down the days to our home opener against Minnesota,” said RailHawks President and General Manager Curt Johnson. “2016 will be a very important year for the RailHawks, as we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary. It’s particularly special that we’ll be doing it under the guidance of our new owner, Steve Malik, and I think our supporters will see a lot of positive change on and off the field as we look to build a world-class organization and bring our first NASL Championship to North Carolina.”
Down in St. Petersburg, Fla., the Tampa Bay Rowdies will launch their 2016 campaign in front of their green-and-gold-clad fans against Indy Eleven side on April 2.
Finally: Defending champion New York Cosmos hosts Ottawa Fury FC on Sunday, April 3, at Shuart Stadium, where the club knocked off the Canadian side two months ago in The Championship Final to lift its second Soccer Bowl trophy in three years.
As a trio of new clubs — Miami FC, Puerto Rico FC, and Rayo OKC — begin NASL play in 2016, two clubs will not participate: The Atlanta Silverbacks and San Antonio Scorpions.
Originally founded in 1998, the Silverbacks joined the NASL for its inaugural season in 2011, and were operated by the league last season while it searched for a long-term local ownership group.
“The goal all along has been to secure committed local ownership in Atlanta, but despite significant conversations with a number of interested parties, we were unable to identify a group that could lead the Silverbacks in a direction consistent with the rest of our clubs,” NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said. “It’s unfortunate, and particularly sad for the Silverbacks’ passionate fan base, which has supported the club tremendously throughout the years.”
Image of new Indy Eleven defender Colin Falvey courtesy Ottawa Fury FC.