Will the NASL ever get it right?

Questioning the timing of announcements and scheduling

The North American Soccer League (NASL) has made it very clear they want to create their own path towards becoming the top division in the United States. In doing so, the NASL has neglected their timing of big announcements and scheduling games at questionable times. Therefore, we must ask, does the NASL realize what else is going on in the world of sports and do they really care? In some aspects, I understand the NASL wants to create a name for itself and cannot worry about what else is going on in sports. But the longer the NASL continues their questionable timing of announcements and scheduling conflicts they will remain “second fiddle” in the media and overlooked by fans of the beautiful game. Below are just a few examples of the poor judgments and miscalculations the league has made relating to announcements and scheduling. WOMEN’S WORLD CUP On July 5th of last year the United States Women’s National Team played in the final of the World Cup in Canada. As the US went on to beat Japan in a rematch from four years prior, the NASL scheduled three games on the same day. Two of the three games involved teams from Canada. Ottawa triumphed over Jacksonville. Edmonton played in Fort McMurrary and easily beat San Antonio. While the third game of the day featured the New York Cosmos and Indy Eleven and started the same time as the US-Japan game, finishing in a stalemate. I know the NASL tries to accommodate every team’s wishes and has to work around scheduling conflicts if a team does not own or has to share their stadium. However, I would have hoped the league at least acknowledged the fact that the biggest event in soccer that year was taking place on July 5th and would want all soccer fans to witness the final of the Women’s World Cup- Could you imagine if Canada was in the final of the Women’s World Cup and the nightmares that would have existed? INTERNATIONAL BREAKS November 13th through 17th of last year was an international break and featured Men’s World Cup Qualifying games in North and Central America and the Caribbean. One of those teams participating during this time was Canada. While the Canadian national team beat Honduras on the 13th and tied El Salvador on the 17th , the Ottawa Fury were playing in the Soccer Bowl final against the New York Cosmos during this time. The Fury lost 3-2 without their play maker, Julian De Guzman, who is the captain for Canada. Major League Soccer (MLS) and clubs across the world still struggle with the international breaks. The jealousy and greed to keep a player fresh for the club instead of allowing them to represent their country at the highest level is a controversial issue in soccer. Although the 2015 Soccer Bowl was memorable and a great game at that, we can only ask ourselves “what if” the Fury were able to feature De Guzman in their starting lineup? 2016 SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED On the same day the NASL announced their schedule for the 2016 campaign, an exciting day indeed, the MLS had something else going on at the same time. The media, coaches, players, and soccer fans from across the world gathered at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention in Baltimore to witness the MLS SuperDraft. The only attention the NASL schedule received was from the league’s clubs and their supporters. While dominate mainstream attention was on the MLS and their drama filled day. This may explain the lack presence the NASL had at the NSCAA Convention, the largest coaches’ organization in the world, and could be the reason why they wanted to announce it the same time as the MLS SuperDraft. Even the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) held their draft at the NSCAA Convention and received massive attention. Maybe next year the NASL will announce the 2017 schedule at the NSCAA Convention and draw attention from across the world. BASEBALL AND COLLEGE BASEKTBALL Opening day for Major League Baseball (MLB) represents a defining moment for people in the United States and Canada that they have survived the winter and can welcome spring with open arms. Of course, Opening Day is no longer a one day event and is spread out over a tedious two weeks, beginning on April 3rd of this year. The city of Miami will have to choose between the Strikers-Miami FC game or the Marlins hosting the Yankees in an exhibition. The Tampa Bay Rowdies will not have to contend with a Rays home game, but Indy supporters may have a conflict of interest. The Pirates and Reds will be playing at Victory Field in Indianapolis that afternoon. Hopefully, the Eleven are pushing Tampa for a mid-afternoon kickoff that does not conflict with the other sporting event that night. NASL clubs in Cary, Edmonton, New York City, Oklahoma City, Ottawa, and the Twin Cities should have the attention of their respected citizens that Saturday- well maybe. Baseball figured out they cannot compete with the Men’s Final Four College Basketball semifinals and final on April 2nd and 4th. Majority of the MLB games on April 4th will be during the day and allows sports fans to enjoy a relaxing Monday on the couch or at a local watering hole. So why did the NASL think that they could compete with college basketball and baseball? One thing is for sure, if the motherboards of sports media in Bristol, Connecticut or Los Angeles are not broadcasting peanuts and crackerjacks games, they will be covering the wood floors of basketball in Houston, Texas. Starting the season on March 26th or April 9th would have been the better option for the NASL, their teams, and fans.   Overall, I like what the NASL has to offer in terms of competition, no salary cap, and a free market in allowing teams to hand pick their rosters. What I do not understand is the league’s senseless effort to make announcements or schedule events when the sports world’s attention is elsewhere. Becoming more conscious of these things may give the NASL a glimmer of hope that the mainstream media will pick up on the lower leagues of soccer and allow the average fan of sports to be aware that there are professional soccer leagues in the United States and Canada below MLS. A glimmer of hope. That is better than what the league has right now in terms of media coverage in the United States.