Every month on atlantasilverbacks.com, we’ll take you through the biggest news stories from around the North American Soccer League (NASL). With just under two months until the 2013 season kicks off, there isn’t any shortage of action around the league.
We’ll start in Fort Lauderdale, where the NASL just held its annual player combine. Over 60 players set out to impress the league’s technical directors, coaches, and scouts, with former French international and Tottenham Hotspur defender Pascal Chimbonda headlining the list of invitees.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers forward Mark Anderson was the biggest success story from the 2012 combine, earning a contract and eventually tallying 11 goals in his rookie campaign last season.
Heading north from Fort Lauderdale, we move on to Orlando, where the defending NASL champions, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, get set to take on top MLS competition in the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Ricky Hill’s NASL side will face the likes of Sporting Kansas City, DC United, and the Montreal Impact in a preseason tournament that will also feature the Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew, Toronto FC, and Orlando City of USL.
After their tune-ups against MLS sides, the Rowdies will likely be in top form going into their Week 1 matchup against the Carolina RailHawks. The RailHawks have an early preseason test up their sleeve too, as they’ll play host to Martin Rennie’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The MLS side will visit WakeMed Soccer Park on February 24, marking Rennie’s return to Cary, where he was in charge from 2009-2011.
Speaking of Canadian teams, FC Edmonton’s head coach just made a name for himself on the national stage,leading the Canada Men’s National Team to a 0-0 draw against Jurgen Klinsmann’s Yanks in an exhibition match held in Houston. FC Edmonton Head Coach Colin Miller is currently serving as the interim head coach for the national team, a post that will not affect his duties once the NASL season kicks off.
Down in San Antonio, two of the Scorpions’ last three new signings have come from Bosnia. After signing midfielder Edin Husic, the Scorpions have brought in striker Adin Dzafic, who boasts first-division experience in Croatia and Bosnia.
Staying on the player personnel front, the New York Cosmos have announced a few more signings – both with MLS experience. Goalkeeper Kyle Reynish inked a contract with the Cosmos, leaving his post as the longtime backup for Nick Rimando at Real Salt Lake. Forward Stefan Dimitrov also signed with the club, bringing with him two seasons of experience playing for the Chicago Fire.
In Minnesota, last week may have been quiet in terms of player signings, but the Stars made quite the splash the previous week, bringing in six players – two of which are former NASL MVPs.
While the Stars underwent quite the roster makeover, the front office in Atlanta was busy giving their brand a makeover, revealing a brand new logo at a party with their fans in the Little 5 Points neighborhood of Atlanta. The party doubled as the club’s first ever Fan Forum event, which allowed Silverbacks supporters to engage in an open Q&A with chairman Boris Jerkunica and general manager Andy Smith.
Atlanta isn’t the only NASL club in the “brand development” process. Incoming franchises in Virginia and Ottawa are currently asking their fans to help them choose branding elements. In Virginia, the big name announcement is set for this week.
The other expansion market set to join the league in 2014 is Indianapolis, and following their press conference announcement in January, the momentum in Indy is picking up, to say the least.
Another big NASL announcement will come in the upcoming week, with the 2013 Fall Schedule getting set to be released. Who will the New York Cosmos play their first game against? Stay tuned here.