Despite debate over the arbitrary changes recently made to the requirements list for a division one league by the USSF, it has not changed the fact that the NASL is missing one ingredient to maintain its division two status: a presence on the West Coast.
The farthest west the league has been able to place teams, Edmonton and San Antonio, are nowhere close to where the league must go. Edmonton also would not meet the requirement due to being in Canada, while San Antonio’s future, at the time of writing, remains unclear.
Which is why the news of a potential NASL club forming in the San Francisco area is tremendous for the league. Ricardo Stanford-Geromel is said to be part of the group setting up the new entity. Geromel, who was part of the ownership group to take control of the Strikers at the end of the 2014 season, will bring experience earned across the 2015 season.
While the Strikers did make a run that landed them in the Soccer Bowl in 2014, the new ownership saw a complete overhaul to the team with many important pieces, like coach Gunter Kronsteiner, departing.
Geromel’s vision for the team included some over-the-top ideas like using drones to deliver beer in the stadium. Ultimately, ideas like that did not come to fruition, but the team did manage to acquire important replacements for the roster that paid off in their run to the postseason, like Stefano Pinho, who would become the 2015 NASL Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner, PC, and “Big” James Marcelin. They would also acknowledge their error in the coaching department when they brought back Kronsteiner to replace Marcelo Neveleff.
Before firing him again.
Geromel was gone from Ft Lauderdale before the end of the season due to disagreements with other members of the ownership, according to a source. The San Francisco group reportedly is looking at locations in downtown San Francisco to house the new NASL side and, according to Evan Ream, believe they will be able to secure one.
Regardless of how you feel about Geromel, his big ideas could help drive success in a market that the NASL could desperately use to both secure their D2 status and enter a new metropolitan area.
But the good news, hopefully, doesn’t stop there. Mr. Ream reported on December 11th that an apparent NASL team is forming up for entry into Orange County. Like the San Francisco side, it would look to enter play in 2017. Shortly after, he reported an interesting bit of news on the ownership group.
Breaking: can confirm that the rumor that the singer Sting is in fact involved with the NASL to Orange County bid
— Evan Ream (@EvanReam) December 11, 2015
Many, many memes and Twitter jokes have passed, but there is still no confirmation of either the team or the involvement of the singer. But “every breath we take”, we’ll be watching news.
This wouldn’t be the first time a celebrity has been reported to get involved with the NASL. Rumors of Kardashian involvement were mentioned about previous NASL potential in LA. Athletes, current and former, have taken ownership of clubs in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and Puerto Rico.
My take? If this is solid, this is great news for the league. It takes the legs out of the argument that the league may not merit second division status because of its absence on the west coast. With two clubs out west, it would avoid turning either into a soccer outpost like Edmonton who, according to Steven Sandor, is spending $40K per road trip, due in part to the Canadian dollar.
Their proximity helps bring down the cost of at least one road trip for each club, considering that nine of their opponents would involve cross-country trips (Puerto Rico, Carolina, Atlanta, Ottawa, the 4 Florida teams, and New York). Actually, this might really please Edmonton, too, with trips to either of these venues totaling about half of what it takes to fly to the East Coast and significantly less than the 14-hour travel time required to Puerto Rico.
While the talk of the Los Angeles team and subsequent failure to see it materialize into something yet has left me feeling uncertain about the Orange County entity, the presence of Geromel in San Francisco has me feeling much more optimistic about that city having a presence in the NASL.