First off, congratulations to Minnesota United FC. Just a few years ago the club was on the verge of folding, it became league owned, and now it will ascend to the pinnacle of soccer in America. A true success story. My hope is that one day, hopefully soon, San Antonio will also have its dream realized.
With the team leaving the NASL in the 2018 season, this gives the league some time to find a team to replace MNUnited. But that's not the only issue facing the NASL. The NASL's timeline for having 12 clubs and having a Pacific time-zone presence is fast approaching. According to USSF D2 standards, in year 6 of the league it needs to have 12 teams from coast-to-coast. Commissioner Peterson has said that he would like 18-20 teams by 2018. Without any new announcements regarding new teams in the past year, it seems like that is a lofty goal with such a short time-frame, especially since now the league will be losing Minnesota. For the teams and/or cities I list, I don't know the financial situations of them, so having the financial backing would be an obvious must for any new team to join the NASL. Along with a financially viable ownership, all of these teams would need a stadium that meets D2 standards. So assuming those could be met, here are my list of potential NASL expansion teams/cities:
Los Angeles, CA: Now I know you might be saying, "but there will be 2 MLS teams in one city, no way that could work!" Well, what I will say to that is this: LA is an huge city. Similar to London, it has the potential to have multiple big teams with its own fan bases. If the team in LA can use the Aztec name and logo from the team that played in the original NASL, that could even bring in more supporters who remember and have fond memories of that team. Bringing in legacy names, like the Cosmos, will only do good things for the league. It would give the San Francisco team a regional rivalry within the league and put the NASL in the 2nd largest market in the United States. If an LA team could hit the ground before the new LAFC MLS team in 2017, then it could establish itself as an alternative to the Galaxy and possibly woo former Chivas USA fans who don't know who to support. Unfortunately though, the latest rumors are that the proposed deal for an LA NASL team isn't going well. With no word from the league office, all we have to lean on are rumors and speculations.
San Diego, CA: In keeping with the California theme, adding a team in San Diego could do wonders for the NASL. In addition to the close proximity to LA and San Francisco, the area is under served by American soccer. Tijuana is the closest town with a major soccer team, but it plays in Liga MX. Fans would still be able to support Tijuana while supporting a local team in the U.S. as well.
Detroit, MI: Detroit City FC is an up and coming club that plays in the NPSL and has quickly gained good support from the community. Bringing in an established team with the support already there will make the transition to the NASL that much easier. DCFC would also serve as a regional replacement for Minnesota United and give Indy Eleven a close rival. Plus, they have an AWESOME crest!
Las Vegas, NV: Since Vegas won't be having a MLS team any time soon, might as well show the country that you can support a team in the lower ranks. I'd suggest that the Findlay group put their efforts into building a smaller stadium, without public funds, and join the NASL. [See my post about what LV should do now] I'm sure the the USL will be pushing to establish a team in Sin City if MLS isn't going to. I think that the NASL needs to be proactive in trying to get a foothold further West. Las Vegas can help with that.
My hope is that the league is not sitting around idly as USL and MLS expands while NASL fans sit around hearing nothing about expansion from the league office. With USL wanting D2 status, I don't want there to be any doubt that NASL meets those requirements to stay D2. I don't want to see the NASL be moved to the 3rd tier in the American soccer landscape.
Do you agree with any of my suggestions? Who do you want to see join the NASL? Let me know in the comments!
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