A Chaotic Off-Season: The NASL Story

Another off season full of drama has been provided by the NASL and the USSF. Unfortunately for Miami FC supporters, this offseason has had a prolonged “inevitable doom” feeling. Unlike last season, this off season was viewed from the distant shore as a storm that could bring some reckoning. Reckoning, it has definitely brought upon the NASL.

By now you have surely heard of the departures from Edmonton, North Carolina, and Indianapolis. The Edmonton one continues to sting quite a bit, but the others almost seemed plausible the second the season ended. The worst kept secret in sports was North Carolina moving the USL in due time. Three departures, a San Diego expansion in purgatory, and a quiet front from their neighbors Cal United don’t paint a promising picture for 2018.

Did you notice I haven’t even gotten to the injunction requests yet being led by Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso? The lifeline in the NASL is withering away in the hands of appellate court justices who are in no rush to make their decision. Who can blame them? Would the justice system really want blood on their hands in the midst of a civil war within the federation? I know you think the most important question is, “Where does that leave Miami FC”? The true question you should be pondering is “where does this leave the athletes and staff”?

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen more players come out on social media discussing their situations and venting their frustrations. It seems that most (if not all) players have been kept in the dark with regards to their contracts and the status of the league in 2018. In a now deleted tweet, Blake Smith vented his frustration with an acronym that some might think is more suitable for the NASL. Tyler Ruthven has also retweeted multiple players who have expressed concern for their fellow athletes who are unsure about their contractual situation.

No player has been more direct or forthcoming than Sidney Rivera from Puerto Rico F.C. If you recall, PRFC had to finish their season in the main-land as their stadium was damaged after Hurricane Maria. I managed to ask Rivera regarding PRFC’s status and any possible contingencies for next season. “Nope everyone I’ve spoken to that still remotely could want to return to PRFC has no idea what is happening” said Rivera over twitter. Given the situations, NASL rosters have seen an exodus from their clubs as players look for stable contracts and a place to play next season. Few clubs have brought in more NASL talent than Cincinnati where Lance Laing (NCFC), Tommy Heinemann (SF Deltas), and Emmanuel Ledesma (NY Cosmos) have all found new homes.

Miami FC Exodus

As for Miami FC, they’ve suffered an exodus just as the rest of the remaining teams in the league. In early December, Miami announced that they will be parting ways with Jonathan Borrajo, Lovel Palmer, Alessandro Lambrughi, Michel, Brad Rusin, Calvin Rezende and Aaron Dennis. At first glance, sure it’s easy to say these are mostly role-playing guys. Since that time, Miami has lost Stefano Pinho (Orlando City). The instability and supposed lack of communication between the players and the league will undoubtedly drive more players off the roster.

So getting back to your most important question, “where does that leave Miami FC”? Well, the truth is I don’t know. The NASL has been left with four teams excluding the expansion clubs. In a way, it’s a benefit that the owners remaining in play include Riccardo Silva, Commisso, Robert Palmer, and Carmelo Anthony. Between the four owners there is enough wealth to prop up teams or even have some of the clubs who signed letters of intent come on board for the 2018 season (which begins in August by the way but that’s a whole different story).

Jeff Rueter reported a new rumor on the table just a few hours ago. Via Twitter, Reuter has stated that sources are telling him “Miami FC met with the USL yesterday to discuss a potential switch from the NASL. The USL declined to comment.” He goes on to state “Miami is believed to have until Monday to decide. The move likely wouldn’t take effect until 2019 at the earliest.” Well that’s definitely an interesting wrinkle and one that could provide a sense of relief for the Miami FC faithful.

Priorities in line?

Here is the problem: Silva is entrenched in the Promotion/Relegation battle more so now than ever before. Silva’s account is not usually active on Twitter but over the past weeks it has grown to be a hotbed for the promotion/relegation front. Silva is also reportedly helping finance Eric Wynalda’s campaign for the USSF presidency. Why would he bolt to the USL now? We reached out to Miami F.C. CEO Sean Flynn for comment about Rueter’s tweets, to which he replied “Nothing to comment … focusing on NASL beginning in Aug 2018”.

So what lies in store for Miami FC. Is it NASL, NPSL, or USL? At this point it could even be Kendall Soccer Park for all we know. If there is an answer to this question, it’s being kept under wraps. Our best recommendation is to worry more about the players and staff who need to earn a living for their households and less about where the team plays. Miami will play somewhere, that you can bank on.

Editors Note: There had been reports that Mario Daniel Vega was on the move to another club in Paraguay. Since this article, that deal has fallen through.

Image at top courtesy of Miami FC/Orovio Photography

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