Former Rhinos Players Update: April 21, 2014

Players on NASL teams:

Mike Ambersley (2006-2007); forward, Indy Eleven: played up top for the full match in 1-1 draw
Chris Estridge (2012-2013); fullback; Indy Eleven: played the full match as a right back
Kristian Nicht (2012-2013); goalkeeper, Indy Eleven: played the full match in goal

Connor Tobin (2011); defender, Carolina RailHawks: started in central defense, played the full match in a 4-1 win

Chris Nurse (2009); midfielder, Fort Lauderdale Strikers: started in central midfield, played the whole match, and scored a goal in a 4-1 loss

Aaron Pitchkolan (2010); defender/midfielder, Minnesota United FC: started in central midfield in 2-1 win
Tyler Polak (2013); fullback, Minnesota United FC: sat on the bench

Carlos Mendes (2003-2004); defender, NY Cosmos: played the full match in central defense in a 1-0 win

Tony Donatelli (2011); midfielder, Ottawa Fury FC: started in central midfield, played 87 minutes in a 2-1 loss
Pierre-Rudolph Mayard (2013); winger, Ottawa Fury FC: started on the left wing and played the full 90

Frankie Sanfilippo (2005-2006, 2010); defender, Tampa Bay Rowdies: played the full match at right back in a 1-1 draw

 

Players on USL Pro teams:

Brad Stisser (2011); forward, Arizona United SC: 35 minutes as a sub in a 2-1 win

John Wilson (2004); defender, Charleston Battery: started and played 90 minutes in 1-1 draw

Bilal Duckett (2013); defender, Charlotte Eagles: Team didn’t have a match

Andrew Hoxie (2010-2013); forward, Orange County Blues FC: was not in the squad

Alfonso Motagalvan (2010-2011); central midfielder, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: dressed but did not play
Danny Earls (2008-2009, 2012-2013); fullback/midfield, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: started and played 90 minutes in 2-2 draw

Matthew Delicate (2006-2008); forward, Richmond Kickers: 78 minutes off the bench in 2-2 draw

 

Players abroad:

Tam McManus (2012-2013); forward, Limerick FC (League of Ireland): played 51 minutes and scored a the winning goal in a 2-1 against Athlone Town on Friday and then played 31 minutes in a 0-0 draw against Derry City

Matt Horth (2013); forward, Leiknir Reykvajik: The Icelandic second division league doesn’t start until May

Johnny Menyongar (2006-2009); attacking midfielder, Bengaluru FC (Indian I-League): Menyongar scored the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win that clinched the title for Bengaluru in its first season with a round of matches left to play. Menyongar has been crucial for Bengaluru throughout its title-winning campaign.

 

If you can think of any guys that I’ve overlooked or forgotten (especially guys playing abroad), be sure to show off and list them below. Thanks.

NASL Attendance Recap: April 21, 2014

The North American Soccer League has enjoyed an overall successful first two weeks to its 2014 season. Aside from some difficulties with the launch of the league’s video streaming service, NASL Live, and the integration of that streaming on mobile apps, the NASL has built on strengths from last season.

This year’s spring campaign (the first portion of the NASL season) features 3 more teams than 2013′s did, as NY Cosmos only played the fall campaign last year and the league has expanded to Indianapolis and Ottawa. All 3 of these newest clubs have shown promise off the field, notching up attendances ranging from decent to amazing.

Minnesota United FC, the league’s second best attended team of the spring campaign in 2013, hasn’t hosted a match yet this season. Several other teams have impressed with opening night attendances that were well above their season averages last year.

Indy Eleven is an unavoidable talking point. The club broke 11000 in its debut match but also reached 10400 in the rather more indicative second home game.

The NY Cosmos and San Antonio Scorpions have returned to the top of the attendance charts, where the two clubs finished 2013. Somewhat surprising though, Tampa Bay opened its season last week in front of an announced crowd of more than 7000. With all the MLS-expansion buzz in Florida (and the Southeast more generally), it will be interesting to see if the Rowdies can maintain that attendance level.

If you’ve got other observations about the attendance figures in the first two weeks of the 2014 NASL season, feel free to sound off below.

Week 2:
Ottawa Fury FC 1-2 Minnesota United FC, 3457
Atlanta Silverbacks 1-2 San Antonio Scorpions, 5000
Carolina RailHawks 4-1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 4007
Indy Eleven 1-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies, 10421
FC Edmonton 0-1 NY Cosmos, 4399

Week 1:
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-0 Ottawa Fury FC, 3105
Indy Eleven 1-1 Carolina Railhawks, 11048
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-1 FC Edmonton, 7003
San Antonio Scorpions 0-2 Minnesota United FC, 7381
NY Cosmos – Atlanta Silverbacks, 7906

As a point of comparison here are the full season (both the spring and the fall campaign) attendance averages for 2013.

Full 2013 season averages:
San Antonio Scorpions: 6951.3
New York Cosmos: 6858.7
Carolina RailHawks: 4707.6
Atlanta Silverbacks: 4702.6
Minnesota United FC: 4508.7
Fort Lauderdale Strikers: 4268.9
Tampa Bay Rowdies: 4043.9
FC Edmonton: 2409.7

Checking in on Former Rhinos’ Players

Players on NASL teams:

Mike Ambersley (2006-2007); forward, Indy Eleven: scored a goal in 1-1 draw
Chris Estridge (2012-2013); fullback; Indy Eleven: started at right back
Kristian Nicht (2012-2013); goalkeeper, Indy Eleven: started in goal for the club’s debut match

Connor Tobin (2011); defender, Carolina RailHawks: started in central defense

Chris Nurse (2009); midfielder, Fort Lauderdale Strikers: started in central midfield in the Strikers 2-0 win

Aaron Pitchkolan (2010); defender/midfielder, Minnesota United FC: started in central midfield for Minnesota United in a 2-0 away victory
Tyler Polak (2013); fullback, Minnesota United FC: did not dress

Carlos Mendes (2003-2004); defender, NY Cosmos: played 90 minutes and scored twice as the Cosmos easily swept the Silverbacks aside

Tony Donatelli (2011); midfielder, Ottawa Fury FC: substitute
Pierre-Rudolph Mayard (2013); winger, Ottawa Fury FC: substitute

Frankie Sanfilippo (2005-2006, 2010); defender, Tampa Bay Rowdies: started at right back for Tampa Bay in a 1-1 draw

 

Players on USL Pro teams:

Brad Stisser (2011); forward, Arizona United SC: did not dress

John Wilson (2004); defender, Charleston Battery: started and played 90 minutes in 1-0 loss to Orlando

Bilal Duckett (2013); defender, Charlotte Eagles: started and played 90 minutes in 2-1 win over Richmond

Andrew Hoxie (2010-2013); forward, Orange County Blues FC: did not dress

Alfonso Motagalvan (2010-2011); central midfielder, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: dressed but did not play
Danny Earls (2008-2009, 2012-2013); fullback/midfield, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: started and played 90 minutes in a 4-3 loss

Matthew Delicate (2006-2008); forward, Richmond Kickers: late game substitute in 2-1 loss to Charlotte

 

Players abroad:

Tam McManus (2012-2013); forward, Limerick FC (League of Ireland): late-game substitute appearance against Bohemians

Matt Horth (2013); forward, Leiknir Reykvajik: The Icelandic second division league doesn’t start until May

Johnny Menyongar (2006-2009); attacking midfielder, Bengaluru FC (Indian I-League): The team was not in action this past weekend but Menyongar has been a mainstay in the team, playing every minute of every match for league-leading Bengaluru FC

 

If you can think of any guys that I’ve overlooked or forgotten (especially guys playing abroad), be sure to show off and list them below. Thanks.

A (small) Look at the Trialists with Rochester Rhinos

Yesterday the team announced that it had added rookie goalkeeper John McCarthy, collegiate stand-out midfielder Minh Vu, and once-promising French forward Steve Pinau to the roster.

Today, the Rhinos released the names of 17 players who will join the team’s pre-season training camp on Monday hoping to earn a place on the squad. The recent signings still leave Kyle Hoffer and Ayao Sossou as the only defenders under contract and as such most of the players brought in for trials with the team are natural defenders.

Goalkeepers:
Brandon Miller was the back-up to Kristian Nicht for the past two seasons after a collegiate career at UNC-Wilmington. He made five league appearances for the team but never really got a chance to shine as Nicht started 92% of matches in that time.

Malick Faye started 71 matches for upstate New York’s SUNY IT during his four seasons and managed to add an assist to his consistent shot-stopping.

A native of Chicago’s suburbs, Brett Petricek was a record setting goalkeeper for Niagara University for his two years with the team in 2011 and 2012.

Defenders:
Tyler Bellamy joined the Rhinos in 2010 during Bob Lilley’s previous stint coaching the team. Bellamy has played in 70 league matches in the past four seasons and coaches have noted the defender’s versatility across the backline.

Justin Clark is a 25 year old defender from Atlanta, Georgia, who played in 10 league matches for Orlando City over the past two seasons.

Kevin Cope was highly rated heading into January’s MLS SuperDraft and Philadelphia Union selected him early in the second round with the 25th overall pick. Some really clever dude had the following to say about Cope leading up the draft:

Cope may not have the imposing size or flash of more highly touted central defenders (he stands six-foot-one and weighs 175 pounds), but the Michigan State senior seems to possess the necessary traits to develop into a solid MLS defender—positioning, tackling, calmness on the ball, and work ethic. Cope was named the 2012 USL-PDL Defender of the Year for his play with the club Michigan Bucks, and the hard-working defender might impress a coaching staff during pre-season training if given the chance.

Iarfhlaith Davoren is an Irish left back, most recently with Sligo Rovers, who is aiming to fill the boots of his compatriot Danny Earls.

Oddly enough, Pat McMahon was part of a program alongside former Rhino Quavas Kirk touring Europe when he earned a contract with Sweden’s Ljungskile SK, the club Alex Horwath moved to about a month ago.

Matt Gaskins just finished his junior season at the University of Central Florida where the 5’5″ fullback registered 7 assists in his three years.

Shawn Nicklaw is a right back who played with Danish club HB Køge before spending 2013 with Wilmington Hammerheads. Nicklaw logged 1843 minutes across 21 appearances, notching a goal but also adding three assists.

Jordan Thomas is a player who grew his game year after year at the University of New Hampshire. Thomas played in 75 matches, registering 18 points in four year but 10 of them in his senior season. He has so far played in all 19 of the Pennsylvania Roar’s matches this season in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

Midfielders:
Johnny Mendoza played with Orlando City’s u-23 team in the Premier Development League in 2012 before signing with the first team last year. The 24 year old Colombian made 20 appearances, including 15 starts, in a very competitive Orlando midfield last year.

Charles Howard joined Elon University in 2012 after a successful junior college career where he played with last year’s loanee Gabe Latigue. The midfielder was actually born and raised in West Philadelphia though I’m unsure if he got caught in any trouble caused by a couple guys from the neighborhood while he was just trying to shoot some b-ball outside of the school.

Argentina-native Nicolas Olsak played 49 games for Belmont University, scoring 11 goals and providing 25 assists in four year. Olsak attended the InfoSport Combine in Florida in early January where he was spotted by coaches.

Mike Garzi finished his collegiate career at Colgate University with 71 appearances, 62 starts, 4 goals, and 8 assists.

Forwards:
Alex Dixon is a former US youth international who spent three seasons with Houston Dynamo in MLS. While only featuring sparingly, Dixon played more effectively during a brief loan-spell with Tampa Bay Rowdies of NASL last year.

Colin Rolfe was a Houston Dynamo first round draft pick in 2012 but only featured in a 28 minute cameo in the U.S. Open Cup before the team waived him at the end of the year. The 24 year old also played in 9 matches in the MLS Reserve League (before the included USL-Pro teams) and scored two goals.

Who is Winning the USL-Pro Preseason so far?

I assigned each returning team in USL-Pro a letter grade based on how impressed I’ve been with its off-season/preseason up to this point (the morning of February 28). Tell me why you think my grades are completely arbitrary.

Austin da Luz, Yordany Alvarez, Corey Hertzog, Brad Rusin, Carl Woszczynski

An MLS Homegrown player with quality NASL experience. A former player returning with a wealth of experience from his two year stint at a model MLS club. A young forward who lit up USL-Pro in 2012. A ball-playing defender who made 16 starts for Vancouver last year despite a number of serious injuries. A third year goalkeeper who could make a case to start anywhere else in the league.

Orlando City is also returning starting goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo, defenders Luke Boden and Rob Valentino, ball-winner Adama Mbengue, playmaker Kevin Molino, and forward Dennis Chin. While Jamie Watson’s move to Minnesota United FC of NASL is a loss, head coach Adrian Heath could not promise the midfielder the amount of playing time he wanted which suggests Orlando will be just fine.

Honestly, it’s hard to look past Orlando City based on the team’s track record and the impressive arsenal Heath has assembled for the Lions’ victory lap through USL-Pro in 2014 before joining MLS next year.

Orlando City: A+

As for the rest of the league…

Odeen Domingo clued us in that Phoenix FC has been unable to sign new players because of outstanding debt from 2013 player salaries. Not a good look, guys.

Phoenix FC: F

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds, after an off-season of discussing lofty ambitions, is returning at least 12 players including 2013 All League First Team-ers Jose Angulo and Matt Dallman. Add to that mix midfield bruiser Anthony Obodai, who played with Phoenix last year, and versatile forward Joseph Ngwenya, who played 6 years in MLS but most recently in Richmond. Considering that the ‘Hounds have yet to receive its 4 loanees from Houston Dynamo, the team has had quite the off-season. Pittsburgh is a club on the up and easily looks like a play-off team.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds: A

After a downright awful 2013 campaign, head coach Bob Lilley has the task of building a Rochester Rhinos squad that can once again challenge in the postseason. Indicative of the wholesale roster clearing, Rochester is only returning a handful of players from last year: Tyler Rosenlund, JC Banks, Mike Reidy, Lance Rozeboom, and Matt Luzunaris. Pierre Rudolph Mayard was penciled in for 2014 and goalkeeper Alex Horwath was signed for this campaign but both have since signed for other clubs. Rochester has brought in defender Kyle Hoffer, who played with VSI Tampa Bay FC Flames last year, and rookie goalkeeper John McCarthy but has so far lacked other notable acquisitions though hopes are high for this year’s loanees from New England.

Rochester Rhinos: D

The biggest news from Wilmington leading up to the 2014 season has not been related to player signings. Under a new majority owner, the club announced a rebranding, naming themselves Wilmington Hammerheads FC, and reached an affiliation partnership with Toronto FC. Wilmington is bringing back a handful of key players like Cody Arnoux and Tom Parratt while also acquiring defender Troy Cole and Maryland stand-out Sunny Jane. The team may be affected by Gareth Evans moving to expansion side Oklahoma City.but could very easily improve over last year.

Wilmington Hammerheads FC: C+

Richmond Kickers has not been very active so far, at least not publicly. The team generated some buzz when a number of players joined affiliate D.C. United on its off-season tour of Indonesia. On a technical side, the club consolidated its youth academy structure by combining operations with the Richmond Strikers youth club. On the player side, the Kickers have brought back veteran midfielder Luke Vercollone who has been with the club since 2008. Last year Richmond benefited considerably from the players that D.C. United sent on loan, expect the same this season. D.C. announced on Thursday that goalkeeper Joe Willis, homegrown signing Collin Martin, and Haitian forward Christiano Francois.

Richmond Kickers: B-

Orange County Blues FC, formerly Los Angeles Blues, have been quiet aside from its much-needed rebranding. It is important that the club has announced a single home venue for the upcoming season as the team has played at as many as four different locations in previous years. The club has so far announced the return of forward Chris Cortez and midfielder Gabriel Gonzalez. OC Blues FC may face some increased competition for players with LA Galaxy II setting up shop nearby, but the club finally has the west coast rivals that have been missing from its first three years in the league.

Orange County Blues FC: C

Harrisburg City Islanders was a surprise package last year but several key figures from that squad have moved on. Andrew Ribeiro, Sainey Touray, and Lucky Mkosana have all signed with teams in higher divisions. The players on loan from Philadelphia Union combined for 55 appearances in 2013 and as the relationship between the two clubs has only grown stronger, expect a similar or increased contribution this year. While two other clubs have unveiled a new look, Harrisburg still uses its monstrosity of a palm tree image.

Harrisburg City Islanders: C-

Dayton Dutch Lions has brought back several key figures from its 2013 playoff run and is well on its well to establishing a brand within the American soccer landscape. Joel DeLass, Shintaro Harada, Shane Smith, and Eric Kissinger will return to the field for Dayton in 2014. Rookie signing David Clemens comes from FC Tuscon, a top PDL club, winger Cameron Vickers moved from Phoenix FC, and midfielder Sebastien Thuriere was a regular for VSI Tampa Bay FC Flames last year. This year Dayton will also benefit from a group of loaned players from the Columbus Crew, as well.

Dayton Dutch Lions: B

Charlotte Eagles has lost a number of key players: goalkeeper Eric Reed to other career options, defender Fejiro Okiomah to Chivas USA, and forward Christian Ramirez to Minnesota United FC. Charlotte Eagles has returned a number of key players: midfielders Matt Gold, Ben Newnam, Jorge Herrera, and Drew Yates. Charlotte Eagles has brought in a number of key players: forward David Geno, goalkeeper Doug Herrick, and defenders Richard Dixon, Jonathan Leathers, and Bilal Duckett. As the Eagles enter its final season as a professional soccer club, the player transaction balance appears to be in the team’s favor.

Charlotte Eagles: B+

Charleston Battery has long been one of the model clubs of lower division American soccer. Without breaking the bank, head coach Michael Anhaeuser consistently puts quality teams on the field. Though attacking midfield talisman Nikki Paterson has moved to Ottawa Fury FC of NASL, the Battery has retained the services of most of the 2013 squad. Jamaican forward Dane Kelly, Cuban goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, and captain defender Colin Falvey highlight the list of returning players for the upcoming season. Charleston is assured of an early preseason due to the Carolina Challenge Cup against MLS teams, which can smoothly translate into confident preparedness once the USL-Pro season rolls around.

Charleston Battery: A-

NASL’s newest team launches as the Jacksonville Armada FC

Local political figures joined league commissioner Bill Peterson and the team’s executives during a press conference on Tuesday morning in Jacksonville, Florida.

ARMADA_FC_RGB

Council President Bill Gulliford told the crowd that he was “proud to welcome Jacksonville Armada FC to our city,” while Mayor Alvin Brown declared, “We want everyone to know that Jacksonville is soccer territory.”

After an extensive contest that allowed fans to suggest possible monikers for the club as well as the colors to be used in a logo and team kits, the results could not have been better. The area’s connection with naval history is not a gimmick but something real that came from the fans, themselves.

With regard to the newly announced name of the team, club owner Mark Frisch said that the organization was “honored and proud to reflect the suggestions of our fans in our team name and logo while aligning with the history and tradition of this region.”

Jacksonville Chamber President Daniel Davis stressed that, “Armada FC makes Jacksonville a player in a global game,” which complements well Commissioner Peterson’s comment that, “the Armada is now part of the global soccer community and global soccer economy.”

These quotes and a general buzz around words like “international” and “global” may foreshadow future announcements of marquee exhibition matches. The success of the USA v Scotland friendly match in May of 2012 was a cornerstone of the pitch by the Armada’s ownership team.

Former Argentine goalkeeper and current club general manager Darío Sala discussed his role of bringing “the best talent to the city.” Sala told the crowd that he would use his worldwide network of connections and relationships to draw foreign players while also scouting extensively in the local area and American colleges. As a former player agent, Sala will know the ins and outs of contract negotiations and may have a leg up during negotiations with clubs from Argentina especially.

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson seemed almost giddy at the prospect of announcing Jacksonville Armada FC. “I love the thought and the process that went into [naming the team],” Peterson said during the press conference. He commended the organization for its strong and deliberative growth so far and set the stage for continued success with cross-state rivalries against NASL’s other Florida teams, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Armada FC will get its chance to take on those teams and the rest of NASL, as well as the US Open Cup field, when it begins play in 2015. Fans can put down a refundable $30 season ticket deposit and learn more about the club by visiting www.ArmadaFC.com.

American Soccer League; Another Addition to the Sport’s Alphabet Soup

The new proposed league’s flashy website is high on promise but low on substance. All of the information available on the site is published in the form of a junior high school book report’s PowerPoint presentation.

American Soccer League, while not winning awards on the creativity of its name apparently has commitments from franchises for Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Philadelphia , Pennsylvania, and Delaware for the start of the league in August 2014. Maryland has since been removed from a previous version of the league’s site. A Chicago team was also listed to join the league in 2015.

From the “Expansion Opportunities” section today, February 10:

APS is preparing for its inaugural season slatted [sic] to kick off in spring of 2014. The league has confirmed six commitments from investment groups dedicated to bringing professional soccer to their communities. There are currently teams located in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The league is now fielding inquiries from interest parties with proven track records in professional sports.

There are obviously some discrepancies there. I hope the league office knows which list is actually correct.

The latest release from the league is dated January 17 and refers to the league as American Soccer League despite earlier releases calling the prospective league “American Professional Soccer,” which is reflected in the site’s URL.

ASL is a North American soccer league set to kick off its inaugural season in 2014. The league features teams in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States. ASL has also partnered with the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) to provide international competition.

This league is apparently taking cues from MLS in terms of URL redundancy. Because MLS lost out to a realty service, its address is MLSSoccer.com, which stands for “Major League Soccer Soccer.” APS/ASL’s site is APSSoccer.net, or “American Professional Soccer Soccer”

Here’s the league’s logo:
This monstrosity doesn’t appear to have learned much from old A-League Word-Art logos as we have another flaming soccer ball.

Mission Statement:

Operate a financially-viable, cost-effective national soccer league that delivers investors a genuine, complete, and professional organization and structure at the minor-league level.

This bit sounds great. Now that we have this idyllic mental image of a national league for local players that isn’t a money pit, one question stands out; how?

We all know the “why,” people love the sport and people love new shiny things and apparently American soccer fans love abbreviations. Even though MLS, NASL, and USL-Pro offer professional opportunities in close to 35 cities around the country, PDL and NPSL offer experience for college players, several national, regional, and state youth development structures exist, and organizations like US Club Soccer and US Adult Soccer Association operate leagues for players from pre-school to mid-life crisis; it’s clearly not enough.

“The United States needs to develop a deeper professional league system.”
- FIFA President, Sepp Blatter

“In such a huge country with 300 million people, if you only have one league [to go to], the professional league – MLS
.. then [there are very few] opportunities,” – Blatter, 2011

“There should be other leagues, and [US Soccer is trying] now to make a second league in order to inspire all these talents.” – Blatter, 2011

Sepp Blatter maybe isn’t the best figure to use as the philosophical basis for your soccer organization. As I noted above, the U.S. has several dozen more leagues beyond MLS.

American Professional Soccer

  • We believe the time is right to enter the American soccer scene in 2014 as the possible USSF-sanctioned third division pro league or as USASA-sanctioned professional league.
  • Our business model resolves issues that have hindered pro leagues in the past including large travel budgets, unorganized league structure, and high entry fees.

I’m actually excited to see this new business model in the flesh. In seriousness, one line from this PowerPoint slide sticks out to me: the possible USSF-sanctioned third division pro league.

Lower division soccer guru Brian Quarstad published a copy of USSF’s 2010 guidelines for division II sanctioning. Attendance wonk Kenn Tomasch points out that the first half of the list clearly states “General Requirements for All Professional Leagues.” Please take a peek over that rather extensive list. I didn’t include it here because the text would have doubled the length of this post.

In order for APS/ASL to get actual professional sanctioning from USSF, the league has to meet all of those requirements. Good luck.

Americal [sic] Professional Soccer

  • APS will kick off in August 2014, we will look to follow the European schedule as closely as possible:
    - 2014/2015 Inaugural Season:
    - August 2014 to November 2014 = Up to 10-12 games.
    - April 2015 to June 2015 = Up to 10-12 games
  • Allows for 24-28 weeks of soccer per season

Following the “European schedule” is a) a dumb idea and b) a dumb name for the FIFA calendar considering that Northern European countries don’t follow that season.

These are tentative dates so I won’t criticize too much, but let’s take a look. My guess is this was thought up at the height of recent hysteria surround MLS switching to the FIFA calendar, which sent the internet ablaze for two days last year before MLS cast aside the rumors.

The league’s geographic footprint is exclusively in the Northeast which means there is no way to have cold-weather teams play away games during October and November. After two press releases from the league discussing a “working relationship” with the disgraced Ontario-based Canadian Soccer League, a prospective team describes ASL as “a new league that features teams in Canada and USA.”

In addition to the split-season format, APS has many differentiating aspects that will set it apart from any other US professional league.

APS is looking to kick off with 12 teams and is still accepting team applications from all East Coast territories. For more information, please click on “Expansion Opportunities” on APSSoccer.net

From everything I’ve read, APS/ASL is not very different from any of the existing leagues in this country. NASL made the switch to a split-season competition format in 2013 in which the Apertura ran from April 6 to July 4 and the Clausura from August 3 to November 2. The tentative schedule for ASL is pretty much the same as NASL’s current setup, including the month long break in the middle of the season.

APS/ASL has between 6 and 8 commitments for the launch of the league in August 2014 and wants 12, all in the East Coast. 10 of 13 USL-Pro clubs, 5 of 8 NASL clubs, and 7 of 19 MLS clubs for a grand total of 22 of the 40 professional soccer clubs in the entire country are located on the East Coast. As APS/ASL is not going to challenge MLS in any way whatsoever, 15 of 21 lower division clubs in 2013 were located on the East coast. Again, good luck.

Even if the league doesn’t fill out its membership rolls with 12 teams, APS/ASL already has commitments from 7 teams. If the league actualizes and operates, that is 7 more professional clubs in the United States. In a piece written by Beau Dure, APS/ASL foudner Matt Driver singles out the late-blooming college player as the main target for the teams in his new league. The current crop of expansion clubs in the NPSL and PDL as well as specifically targeted sports agency and independent showcase ventures can sweep up most of these players who may have fallen through the cracks.

Agencies now have a better grasp of finding the diamond-in-the-rough type player and have connections to promote that player to existing clubs. Other programs train a squad of guys who international showcase events. Bridges FC from Chicago takes roughly two teams worth of players on an annual summer tour of Europe, playing against teams in several countries. If these guys catch the eye of a scout or an opposition coach, he gets an invitation for a trial which can very easily materialize into a contract offer which is exactly how Aaron Nichols is now playing for Ljungskile SK. Two Trinidadian players who had been playing in amateur leagues in the United States recently earned trials and subsequent contracts in Europe after participating in a scouting combine organized by PSC Soccer Academy.

If there are already growing leagues in this country, each with its own league-wide combine and with each team hosting at least one open tryout, and existing mechanisms to give second chances to late-bloomers, then what’s the point?