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Why NASL expansion to Miami smacks of desperation

paolo-maldini-riccardo-silva

NASL’s announcement of an expansion team in Miami beginning in 2016 was met with a wide range of opinions and a certain degree of shock among the American soccer intelligentsia. The new club, Miami FC, which shares the same name of the Miami FC team from 2006-2010 that morphed into the team now known as the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, boasts an impressive ownership group featuring AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini and MP & Silva President Riccardo Silva.

During recent months, NASL has been dominated by expansion rumors (the league that must add teams in the near future to meet the requirements for Division 2 status set out by the US Soccer Federation). But the markets pursued by NASL have either not come to fruition, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, or have been snapped up first by the third division USL, such as St Louis, Sacramento and Tulsa. Additionally, NASL has announced expansion franchises in Oklahoma City and Virginia whose start of play have been delayed and as of this writing appear unlikely to ever kick a ball.

With NASL’s announcement today of the league’s expansion to Miami beginning in 2016, you have to wonder whether the motivation here is centered around NASL’s never ending quest to get the attention of MLS and the media that covers the top division of North American soccer so closely.

The fact remains that NASL is moving into a market that failed them in the past, using the same Miami FC name for that team, and potentially moving into a stadium (Florida International University) that had attendances of less than 1000 for games, While the new ownership group is impressive, you have to wonder whether this team is doomed to fail given the track record of NASL teams in Miami (both the original NASL and current NASL organizations).

 

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Many Miami fans on social media claim that the city will only embrace “the best,” making any attempt at a lower division team in the market risky. Quite frankly, a MLS team itself in the area is always a risk for this reason as well. Short of having a team completely packed with stars, which is a difficult proposition under MLS rules and without deep-pocketed owners, Miami seems unlikely to embrace a MLS team. Unlike the community-oriented approach of clubs like Orlando City SC, MLS in Miami would have to depend on star power to generate the type of local enthusiasm that most teams in the league now take for granted.

A cannibalized local market is another byproduct of NASL’s move to Miami. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers are currently one of just two NASL clubs without a local TV deal. Now that another NASL club will play in the same market, they are unlikely to secure the type of favorable deal most other clubs in the league enjoy. Additionally, while the majority of Strikers fans come from Broward and Palm Beach counties, a healthy amount of supporters make the short drive up I-95 or the Florida Turnpike for every home game from Miami-Dade County. These fans will now have to choose between two NASL clubs.

While the NASL will have their first genuine derby with the two sides likely playing in stadiums about 25 miles apart, the league’s decision to make Miami it’s 12th club reminds us of the failures elsewhere in trying to secure expansion franchises and of the league’s continued efforts to poke at MLS. But for the NASL, MLS comes with loaded guns to any fight while NASL is just striving to have any weapon of relevance.

 

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. seth israel

    May 25, 2015 at 10:38 am

    This story is so anti NASL.. Fact there is more upside for NASL because of lower franchise fee of about $5 million compared to MLS @ $100 million.

  2. alex gago

    May 25, 2015 at 10:32 am

    S. Florida is a great soccer market for two NASL. However, NASL did a poor job leveraging the media with this .

  3. Kahkakew awassanay

    May 23, 2015 at 2:47 am

    WTH do you know???? Beckham cannot et adeal in Miami…the otherNASL clubs in Flordaare holding their own…the state has a huge lati population..the new owners have deep pockets…you come across like a MLS crooner..everyone nows MLS are ou to kill all comptiion aka the NASL as their owner/operatos rake in profits thanx to their illegal SES and moronic PA of which 95% would maybe find employment and lower wages in the NASL or USL Pro. NASL is the alternative to the MLS where the ridiculous SES salary cap promotes employment equity for inferior North Americans and marginal latinos, overpriced over the hill European and second rate South Americans as DP’s,….MLS will end up a 32 clubs when it is certain it has taken all suitable cities thru expansion(new fanchise fees to meet profi targets) and thru the expansion of the USL to severely limit the NASL ability to grow and compete…NAS will find a way to satisfy the MLS influenced USSF to grow to 20-24 clubs and will challenge MLS in quality on the pitch…one way or the other NASL will survive to see the fad of the MLS quickly begin to fade once they saturate the US market…as the quality of play diminishes and parity grow and the very limited talent pool is exhausted…

  4. Hydrahamster

    May 22, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Miami is a sketchy city to start a soccer team in. MLS struggled in Miami where it took them a decade after the last one folded to start again. The NASL’s Miami team could struggling if they don’t connect with the community. It’s going to take more than just charity work to get through soccer fans. With the NASL being a traditional league, they can grow fan support by being a connection for Miami people to become professional soccer players. MLS’s Miami is going to be filled with American players outside of Miami and a few overpaid near retired guys. If Miami FC can somehow develop Miami’s soccer community into professional and they are successful, they will be set.

  5. StellaWasAlwaysDown

    May 21, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Are there any Cuban soccer stars willing to defect to NASL’s new club? This might spark some interest ala MLB.

  6. Sean

    May 21, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Desperation?? Not the word I would choose with that ownership group. I’m guessing they know MLS is failing in the market & they see opportunity.

    NASL has way more upside to MLS in become an actual soccer league, as opposed to a plaything for NFL owners.

  7. Tim

    May 21, 2015 at 7:14 am

    I personally would have liked to see them either go midwest or west coast. This does not excite me at all beacuse I feel like Miami is one of those markets that needs star power to attract in all sports and its unlikely you are going to get it with NASL in Miami. I tend to agree with this article that it reeks of desperation.

  8. AmericanizeSoccer

    May 20, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Also, where were the supporters for the announcement? Are there any supporters for this Miami FC?

  9. AmericanizeSoccer

    May 20, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    I agree with this article.

    Also, I think there are a limited amount of ‘stars’. To field a team of ‘stars’ would mean taking a significant percentage of the world’s soccer elite (stars), which few teams are able to do.

    • Kei

      May 20, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      All the more difficult for a team slated to play in what is ostensibly a second-tier league. Cosmos have managed to snag a few stars that might have otherwise joined MLS outlets, but the Minnesota’s and the Carolina’s of the league aren’t getting big-names to join them anytime soon.

      Could be fun to watch them try to do just that, though. It’s not like there are any real restrictions standing in their way.

  10. CTBlues

    May 20, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    I was expecting the Hartford announcement so I’m a bit let down.

  11. Kei

    May 20, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Couldn’t it also be that the jig could very well be up for the Beckham group, and Maldini/Silva have made a calculated move to fill the void in Miami?

    Still think a west coast team would go a long ways toward establishing NASL’s cred, though.

    • Travis

      May 21, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      I single west coast team would be too expensive. The NASL needs a few teams out west in order to keep travel costs down.
      The NASL should focus on the east in order to build up the league.

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