It’s certainly been a year of change for the NASL, with the Atlanta Silverbacks (folded) and San Antonio Scorpions (new owners moved team to USL) gone and Rayo OKC, Puerto Rico FC and Miami FC added to the circuit. More changes are afoot for 2017, with Minnesota United (likely) shifting to MLS and the San Francisco Deltas coming on board as an expansion side.
But pro soccer is definitely on the rise, and that means the potential for more NASL growth, perhaps as early as the 2017 season. NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson says there are six potential new markets on his circuit’s radar — including four in the western United States. From the BBC:
“Of those six instances of interest that I mentioned, four would be also considered West Coast. So before the end of the year we could have another club out there. That would help with our national footprint, and also help attract potential sponsors.”
At the moment the league does not have a title sponsor, but Peterson believes that will come about when the league reaches 18 to 20 teams.
“In the meantime we are talking to a lot of other different companies about coming into supporting the league as partners, and how we can help their firms by spreading awareness of their brands through the NASL.”
He points to the deal signed with US sports kitmaker Under Armor, to provide the official league football, as proof that they are getting big names on board.
One thing Peterson has wisely stressed: bringing in high-quality ownership groups. The three new 2016 clubs all have solid businesspeople and organizations in the owners suites: the NBA’s Carmelo Anthony in Puerto Rico, Riccardo Silva of M&P Silva and Italian legend Paolo Maldini in Miami, and La Liga’s Rayo Vallecano de Madrid in Oklahoma City.
A big concern: NASL’s future in the future U.S. soccer pyramid. Right now it’s the top minor league, below MLS and above USL. Discussions on changes are ongoing, and you can expect some sort of decision in the fall.
Image courtesy Puerto Rico FC.