Our Thoughts on the First Season of the NPGL
The first season of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) was not without its problems. The league had been struggling financially since it’s inception and the owners were having financial difficulties. Several teams folded during the first year of play, including two in Florida: Miami FC and Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Both clubs have since rebranded themselves as NASL franchises while others like Jacksonville Armada and Tampa Bay Rowdies are still trying to get off the ground. Other teams such as Atlanta Silverbacks and Carolina RailHawks have struggled to attract fans or even pay their players.
Miami FC was one of the most successful teams in the inaugural season, finishing with a record of 10-3-4 and winning the Spring Season Championship. However, they failed to qualify for the playoffs after falling 2-1 against Ottawa Fury FC in last minute penalty kicks at home. Despite all these setbacks, Miami FC did manage to finish second in the Fall Season standings behind Orlando City B.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers finished third in the Spring Season standings and qualified for the postseason. They lost 3-2 to Indy Eleven 1st place finisher last week. Their fall season ended with a 4-0 loss to fellow NASL expansion side Minnesota United FC.
Orlando City B came into the league with great fanfare being an MLS reserve team. They finished first in the fall season standings and appeared destined for the championship game. However, they lost to Louisville City FC 3-2 last week in penalty kicks after playing to a 2-2 draw. The match was played at Seminole Soccer Complex in Sanford, FL because their home field, Titan Soccer Complex, was being used for the college conference they play in.
Orlando City B has some great talent on their roster such as former Uruguay Youth International and current MLS player Bryan Rufat. They also have some of the top prospects from the MLS team such as Tommy Redding, Albert Dikwena, Mikey Ambrose and recent addition, Joe Gallardo. The team was in major need of star power when it came into the league and they delivered with two former MLS players. Their manager is Latvian born Alexandre Guimaraes, who also managed the Philadelphia Union during the first year of their existence.
The success of OC B has raised several questions about the future of the NPSL. The future of the NASL is also in question with some of the clubs looking to leave the league and join a reported new league being created by the US Soccer Federation. This new league would be similar to the USL, which is currently a semi-pro league. The USSF reportedly offered the NASL $500 million to help get this new league started and they refused.
The NASL has been trying to lure away NPSL teams and have found a few takers. The rumor is that if the NASL can get enough teams (14+) to stick with them they will receive second division status from U.S. Soccer.
This would force MLS to either raise their minimum standards, which would cause them to lose money on some of their smaller market teams, or they would lose their second division status and the security that comes with it.
The NASL has also been in the news for all the wrong reasons as well. The owner of Minnesota United FC, Billsey Gaurent, passed away last week from cancer. Their head coach, Manny Lagos, will be taking over as interim team president. This leaves the team in a position where they are unsure if they will still have a team to manage next year.
Minnesota has been one of the stronger franchises in the league and losing them would be a major blow to the NASL. For that matter if Minnesota stays but drops down to the new USSF league it would also be a major loss for the NASL. There have been two teams that have left the NASL after this year, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury. The Atlanta Silverbacks and Fort Lauderdale Strikers are also struggling to survive as team.
The future of the league is very much in question at this point.
With all this in mind Tuesday’s match will probably be the last time we see professional outdoor soccer in Lake County for a while. The club has hinted at taking a year off to restructure before returning in some format. Depending on what happens with the NASL and MLS next year, this could mean OC B returning to the NPSL or even a new league, or it could mean we may not have professional soccer here again.
Weather forecast for tomorrow calls for a high of eighty two and mostly sunny skies. So make sure you get out and enjoy our outdoor stadium while you still can.
Until next week!
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Sources & references used in this article:
- NPGL Soundings Series: Summitry and Public Perceptions (C Bradford – 2011 – cigionline.org)
- The Impact of Functional Fitness and the National Pro Grid League on Gender Equity (J Liu – 2015 – search.proquest.com)
- Volcanic complexes in the eastern ridge of the Canary Islands: the Miocene activity of the island of Fuerteventura (S Walker – 2012 – Cambridge University Press)
- Sprinter Mod III: A model for the analysis of new frequently purchased consumer products (E Ancochea Soto, JL Brandle, CR Cubas… – Journal of Volcanology …, 1996 – eprints.ucm.es)
- Soundings Series: National Perspectives on Global Leadership (GL Urban – Operations Research, 1970 – pubsonline.informs.org)
- THE MEMOIR OF BENJAMIN WILSON, FRS (1721-88): PAINTER AND ELECTRICAL SCIENTIST (A Rozental, AF Cooper, B Carin, C Bradford, D Tussie… – 2009 – cigionline.org)