NASL Notebook: Jacksonville Hopes for Record Attendance, Scorpions secure USMNT keeper, more


NASL Beat Writer

There is only one week remaining before the 2015 NASL season officially kicks off and eams are hoping that they already have the core of their team intact.

San Antonio made a shrewd last minute move to bring in a solid option at goalkeeper. With kickoff so close, teams are putting their marketing efforts into full swing as well. No team, however, is doing more than Jacksonville, who are hoping to have an historic opening match.

  • The front office of expansion side Jacksonville Armada is setting its sights high for their home April 4th home opener against FC Edmonton. The club is aiming to break NASL’s modern-age single game attendance record. Last year’s expansion side Ottawa Fury FC set the current record of 14,593 against the New York Cosmos. Jacksonville came close to beating that in the preseason when 13,934 showed up to watch the club beat MLS’ Philadelphia Union. The primary home venue for the Armada, The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, cannot accommodate that many fans, so the team is returning to NFL stadium Everbank Field to handle the overflow. The official name of the campaign is “Set The Record JAX.” The club even set up a website and are asking fans to use the #SetTheRecordJAX hashtag on all social media networks to boost the effort. Along with increased marketing across several platforms, the team will also host a launch party open to all fans on the Wednesday before the match. On top of that, the Armada have started selling combo tickets to the match and music festival that they will host right before kickoff. The team’s supporters group Section 904 will lead festival attendees in a march to Everbank Field to watch their team kick off its first season.
  • The San Antonio Scorpions made a deal to bring in Sporting Kansas City’s Jon Kempin on loan. Kempin, 21, has played for the US at the U-18 and U-20 level and was recently called into the Senior national team by Jurgen Klinsmann in January. For such a young goalkeeper, Kempin boasts a strong resume. He has two successful loan spells at both Orlando and Oklahoma City in the USL, the former ending in a USL championship. He even has CONCACAF Champions League under his belt with Sporting Kansas City. Despite the positives, Kempin was going to be Kansas City’s third option at keeper this year. So the loan to San Antonio is a clear move to avoid Kempin’s development stalling while riding the bench in MLS. Scorpions Head Coach Alen Marcina and company are likely hoping that Kempin’s loan can match the success of last year’s Fall Season loan Josh Saunders. The NYCFC keeper  solidified the team’s defense on the road to the Soccer Bowl. With Saunders, the defense gave up only 15 goals in the Fall Season, the fewest in the league. Neither San Antonio or Kansas City disclosed the details of the loan so there is no indication how long Kempin may stay in Texas.
  • The big news out of Minnesota this week was clearly the official announcement that Minnesota United FC would be joining MLS. Before that, though, the Loons had to wrap up business in Brazil. On Monday, the team defeated Vasco de Gama 1-0 to close out its preseason trip. It was an intense trip for the Loons, playing four games in eight days. A 3-3 draw against Barra Mansa, a 2-0 loss against Botafogo, and a 3-2 victory over Voltaço round out the rest of the results. It was an overall positive trip for Manny Lagos and his squad. They showed some defensive vulnerabilities in early matches, but those seemed to quickly fade away when goalkeeper Sammy N’Djock made his first appearance since officially signing. N’Djock was the difference maker in Minnesota’s victory over Botafogo. His aggressiveness kept Botafogo from captiliazing on several break away opportunities. N’Djock’s performance could end up being the biggest take away from the entire trip. Many NASL teams have relied on the counter attack in recent years but not many team have had a keeper capable of squashing the counter the way N’Djock can.

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  • Austin tx

    By 2017 NASL is loosing Atlanta, Minneapolis ( Minneapolis might go in 2017 or 2018 in MLS) and NASL will end up with 9 or 10 teams.
    If you ask me, that’s not bad and if they keep expanding, NASL could have 15 to 17 teams by 2020 but it depends if NASL gets owners and good markets.
    At this moment NASL needs a west (pacific time zone) team and they might easily find one in Eugene, the Bay Area, San Diego or LA.
    At the same time NASL needs okc, Virginia to get their issues straighten and Atlanta might end up in the USL for.
    I just think this is the time NASL matures and makes moves to be a real D2, and expands to reach 18 teams by 2020 and cosmos won’t leave NASL until they know NASL is ready to fly by themselves.
    Practically cosmos own NASL, cosmos are NASLs daddy and they won’t separate until NASL is ready to run on it’s own.
    This is where NASL should expand= Austin tx, Boise, Eugene, San Diego, Oakland, Birmingham, Nashville, El Paso tx, Albuquerque, Vegas, reno, Omaha, Des Moines, Birmingham.
    At this moment NASL needs to commit as a D2 and when lobbying owners of new markets,just admit you are D2 and believe in pro/reg one day will come and best of all,divide into 2 conferences just like MLS and USL.
    NASL can easily have 20 teams but divide into west and east and commit to be a D2.
    I forgot to mention If NASL commits to being a D2, then they might start getting interest from USL teams who are not MLS affiliates.
    Then NASL might get markets from USL, just like MLS gets NASL teams, simple as that but NASL needs to commit being a D2 first.
    20 teams should be good for NASL and maybe even 24 if they mature and admit MLS is better than them.
    Just have west and east conferences and play hard like a typical D2.

    • Hydrahamster

      They already said MLS is better than them. It’s all about growing a alternative to MLS. MLS is all about single entity, paying foreign players more than their own, fake free agency deals and anti-consistent teams.
      The NASL is different. They have independent club owners, players contracts owned by the clubs, don’t rely on the league alone to make them stronger and does a better job scouting players. The NASL is all about fighting for traditional soccer while MLS are all about making soccer like American football and baseball.

      I don’t support the NASL the way I do MLS, but I respect the NASL more. With the new ESPN3 deal, I can support them more and find a team to support. MLS is a selfish league and some MLS fans are selfish as well. The only way the NASL can become a true second division is if there was promotion and relegation. MLS is against a joint division because the people running MLS only know how to run a typical American sport only made to make money. The USSF is a cancer to soccer in America. The divisions are not set up for promotion and relegation because every division have their own ideas.

  • Larry’s A Simpleton

    Imagine that. An American league fashioning itself like other successful leagues in America that make money. Who would have thunk it? As for the purity and holiness of the NASL, well, how’s that working out for them?

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