Home NASL & USL More NASL & USL NASL adds franchises in Jacksonville and Oklahoma City… but teams still needed in MT and PT zones

NASL adds franchises in Jacksonville and Oklahoma City… but teams still needed in MT and PT zones

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The distance from Edmonton to Jacksonville, Fla.: 3,092 km.

The distance from Edmonton to Oklahoma City: 2,355 km.

Neither of the two new NASL expansion cities, announced Thursday after a league Board of Governors vote, is a puddle jump from the Eddies. And the new round of expansion still doesn’t address a pressing need to get teams into the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Of course, former FC Edmonton director of soccer Joe Petrone continues to work with potential investors in a new Calgary franchise, and there are whispers of teams in New Mexico, Calfornia and Spokane, Wash. But none of those have got to the green-light stage from NASL. So, as the league expands, so does FC Edmonton owner Tom Fath’s travel bill.

The Board of Governors met with four groups, and approved the Jacksonville and OKC bids. Both teams will join the league in 2015. NASL spokesman Michael Preston said that the league won’t identify the other two cities that had bids in, but they didn’t receive flat-out rejections. See them more as being at the beginning of NASL courtship.

As well, Preston said there is no update on the Puerto Rico Islanders’ status for next year. The Islanders, thanks to financial issues and governmental change, went on hiatus for 2013, and as each day goes by there is more and more cynicism when it comes to the hopes for the franchise’s 2014 return to NASL.

The Ottawa Fury, Virginia Cavalry and Indy Eleven boost NASL to 11 teams next year, without Puerto Rico.

FC Edmonton owner Fath, who also sits on the NASL’s Executive Committee, said the two new groups will be great for the league.

“Obviously, with my role on the committee, I knew about the bids, but I hadn’t met the people personally. I made a point to do that at the meetings and, I have to say, they are a great group of guys. They are coming from cities that really like their sports, to support their sports, and they are going to be great teams for our league in the future.”

Of the two markets announced Thursday, there will certainly be some fireworks. Some will no doubt see the OKC confirmation as a declaration of all-out war between USL and NASL.

Sold Out Strategies was part of a bidding team beat out a USL group, headed by Prodigal Sports Management, for the rights to host pro matches at the city’s Taft Stadium. But, last month, the NASL group and USL group were in court. The USL group contends that the NASL bidders were breaking a USL no-compete clause. Why? because some of the NASL bidders are partners in a PDL side, and PDL is a division of USL. The NASL group says the USL had decided to go with another group with its USL-Pro franchise, leaving those PDL investors out in the cold — which should make the no-compete clause null and void.

And, there’s an issue of whether or not a no-compete clause is even legal in the State.

In simple terms, you have USL-Pro and NASL groups going toe-to-toe in an open battle. There are no niceties here. There is no “for the good of the soccer pyramid” chat. This will be the stuff that fuels the USL vs. NASL vitriol that clogs up the comments sections of every lower-division soccer blog in North America.

Read between the lines of comments from NASL commissioner Bill Peterson:

“The Board of Governors has recognized a carefully crafted bid from OKC Pro Soccer LLC, who waited patiently to build a strong platform that will ensure NASL soccer thrives in Oklahoma City. Like their Jacksonville counterparts, they have almost two full years to prepare an unrivaled coaching staff, player roster and venue to create a team that local fans will be proud to support.”

That’s clearly a shot at the USL group, which wants to be first to the post by getting a team — a franchise that was just confirmed last month — launched by spring of next year.

But Fath said NASL isn’t expecting lawsuits to be an issue. The team was awarded to OKC Pro Soccer LLC, led by Tim McLaughlin. And McLaughlin wasn’t involved in the PDL side, so isn’t part of the dispute. He’s the face of the bid. If he’s in the lead, NASL feels there isn’t a worry about the no-compete clause. And, the members of the bid who were part of the PDL team have taken a step back while the lawyers sort things out. (CLICK HERE)

Peterson, via phone, later confirmed to The 11 that McLaughlin is spearheading the bid and the silent partners now in the group have no connections to the PDL team or the lawsuit. The group, as it has applied for the team, is free and clear of that USL baggage.

Mark Frisch and former FC Dallas goalkeeper, Dario Sala, led the Jacksonville bid.

From Peterson: “I have seen firsthand the desire the Jacksonville community has for a professional soccer team to call its own and believe this is a great move for soccer in Florida. The Sunshine Soccer Group is creating another in-state rivalry for our teams the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Fort Lauderdale Strikers, appealing to the global soccer passion for local derbies that are always special occasions.”

Now, to work on the teams out west.

“There’s no doubt we need to have more teams in the West,” said Fath. “The league really needs to add a western component, but there is plenty of room to grow over the next five years.”

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4 Comments

  1. Mike

    July 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    With these new additions does expansion in Canada now qualify? Hello Calgary.

  2. Jamonty

    July 26, 2013 at 8:16 am

    The NASL & USL are carving up the American soccer-scape like it is some sort of colonization.

    Yet, I would suggest that many American cities and sports fans are not yet able to define the difference between D2 and D3. MLS is flashiest and clearly the top tier, but away from the MLS cities, smaller centers jump at the idea of a pro soccer team as an avenue to engage the growing ethnic diversity. Taking a waiver on a pro soccer team is often a clear yes from city bureaucrats or officials but the financial and sporting decisions are left up to the ownership groups. A D3 model is a cheaper investment yet maybe even more secure, esp. with links to MLS. it remains to be seen if D3 will be a weaker product than NASL in the long run.

    The problem is perhaps that the top tiers of the N.American development system is still being refined and established. I’d sugget that it will take another decade before the clear nuances of D1, D2 and D3 can be quantified and qualified. Until then, dividing up soccer cities and regions continues.

  3. Seathanaich

    July 25, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    NASL and USL Pro are already at war, when USL Pro launched a team in Tampa Bay this year to compete with the established Tampa Bay Rowdies of NASL.

    Either the USSF needs to confirm its designation of NASL as D2 and USL Pro as D3 and create some sort of pro/rel between them, or else it needs to let them battle it out as equal D2 ranked leagues.

    The new stadia and apparently new standards of ownership are great for soccer. The rate with which these two rivals are adding teams might be the signal that soccer has passed a Tipping Point as a pro sport in North America, or it could be something that is getting too big too quickly as people scramble to fight for what will be the next round of MLS expansion.

    • Tomas

      July 25, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      There’s nothing needed to confirm NASL as D2 and USL Pro as D3, its a done deal and a fact. D3 USL Pro doesn’t and can’t meet the D2 standards thats why they’re D3 and will stay that way.Pro/rel? Please stop.

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