4 Questions for the 2015 NASL Season

The NASL has a lot of questions to answer before this upcoming season
by Eric Harris   |   Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Defending The Fort - column on San Antonio Scorpions (SASFC) & the San Antonio soccer scene.

Just a few weeks after the beginning of the top soccer league in America, the NASL will begin its spring season this weekend. There is plenty of intrigue going into the year. There is more star power than ever before. Players like Kleberson and Raul are part of the league, while Miguel Ibarra has become a player to keep an eye on for fans of the USMNT. With the season getting underway, here are four major questions that can be asked leading into the year.

1. Can San Antonio Repeat?

The Fall Season and Soccer Bowl Champions come into the year with huge expectations to repeat. They return Billy Forbes in the midfield who led the league in assists. They also boast a striker tandem that will be familiar to MLS fans. Eric Hassli returns for his second year with the club, the former Dynamo striker Omar Cummings will join him. They will have to replace Josh Saunders in goal, and they have picked up Jon Kempin on loan from Sporting Kansas City. Kempin has logged some minutes for various US Youth National Teams. The goal scoring will be there but the biggest question mark for the Scorpions will be the backline in front of Kempin. If they can remain organized they will compete all season, if not then Kempin might not make the volume of saves that Saunders was able to.

2. Who Are The Other Favorites?

Right now, the New York Cosmos and Minnesota United look like the most talented squads this season. They boast the two most likely MVP candidates this season in Raul and Ibarra. These two teams won’t just be dependent on stars though. Mads Stokkelien and Marcos Senna were both key contributors for the Cosmos last season. They will also add Adam Moffat who has played with five different MLS clubs. Even if Raul is a shadow of his former self, there is still plenty of depth in New York to be successful. Minnesota’s days in NASL are numbered with the recent announcement of their inclusion into MLS, but for now they will be one of the top teams in the league. This team is much more than Ibarra. Christian Ramirez bagged 20 goals last season and newcomer Kalif Alhassan should make an impact with the team. Former New York Red Bull Jonny Steele should also help Ibarra in the midfield.

3. How Will Jacksonville Fare?

The newest club to NASL will definitely have a South American flare. With five Argentinians and two Colombians, the team already has the identity of their manager Jose Luis Villarreal. They also have some strong goalkeeping in former Orlando City player Miguel Gallardo. The results on the field might be a struggle at times. There could be some players who emerge as stars but right now there just isn’t any name recognition on the roster. What will be most exciting to see though, is the crowds that will come through the gates this season. Jacksonville has had some impressive tickets sales already and will certainly add to the growing attendance numbers of the league.

4. How Beneficial Will the TV Deal Be?

Just before the start of the season the league announced over 120 games will be broadcast on ESPN Networks. This could not come at a better time as it was just a day after the announcement that they would be losing Minnesota to MLS in 2018. Eight teams already have local TV deals, but this international deal that will broadcast games in 75 countries will bring more exposure to the league. Fans will not have to be as reliant on online streams that were used in the past. The quality of broadcasts that the league will put out will mirror the improved quality of play on the field.

Eric HARRIS

Nationality:
USA
College:
U of Arkansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Fulham
American soccer fan by birth, SKC and Fulhamerican by choice. Watcher of all soccer, professional, WoSo and college. A life long Arkansan, he spends more money on soccer jerseys than a college student should.
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