NASL Notebook: As Minnesota United Leave for Brazil, MLS Expansion Rumors Heat Up, more

NASL Beat Writer

Only three more weekends before the 2015 NASL season and teams are putting the final touches on their rosters and ramping up preseason action. Minnesota United have left for Brazil as part of their preparations, joining the Cosmos as the only other NASL side training south of the United States.

But that is all a side story, as Minnesota United continues to garner MLS interest.

  • Off the field, expansion rumors to MLS are drastically heating up for the Loons. A report from the local website Northern Pitch indicates that Minnesota United has overtaken the Minnesota Vikings ownership in the race to bring MLS to the city. The report also states that MLS has provided “written support” for United’s bid to build a stadium and that owner Dr. Bill McGuire has secured an option to buy property for the proposed outdoor venue near Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. No comment from the club on the new report, but an announcement could come soon after the team returns from Brazil.
  • On the eve of the team’s 12 day preseason trip to Brazil Minnesota United announced a strong addition to its defense with the signing of goalkeeper Sammy N’Djock. With the Loons’ primary goalkeeper from last year, Matt Vanoekel, joining Edmonton earlier in the offseason, N’Djock instantly becomes a favorite to win the number one spot over Mitch Hildebrandt and Andrew Fontein. At 25, N’Djock has experience playing in the lower divisions of France and Turkey. The 2013-2014 season was a bit of breakout for the keeper. He won the starting position while with Fethiyespor, making 30 appearances. He also made Cameroon’s roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. N’Djock will be traveling to Brazil again as the Loons ramp up their preseason. No official word yet on which teams Minnesota will be competing against while in South America, but according to the Two United Fans video podcast, Head Coach Manny Lagos said last week that all competition in Brazil would be first division teams.
  • After making waves with positive progress for the proposed legislation to fund a 18,500 seat stadium, Indy Eleven President and General Manager Peter Wilt has finally added desperately needed help to the club’s attacking corps. Indy has acquired Jamaican international forward Brian Brown on loan from Harbour View in the Jamaican Red Stripe Premiere League. Brown, 22, joins previous signing Wojciech Wojcik up top to bring the count of forwards on the official roster up to two. At Harbour View, Brown led the league during the 2013-2014 season with 18 goals. The success from that season led to a loan to MLS’ side Philadelphia Union in July of last year. While with the Union, he netted two goals in 8 appearances. Brown takes up Indy Eleven’s final international roster spot and he will join the team as soon as his visa clears. Wilt and coach Juergen Sommer are hoping that Brown can make an immediate impact when he arrives because, compared to other NASL teams’ offseason acquisitions, a strong argument can be made that Indy has had the weakest offseason so far. In preseason action so far, Indy has lost to Indiana University 2-1 in a 9-v-9 scrimmage and defeated new USL side St Louis FC 2-0 with a trialist heavy lineup.
  • Carolina Railhawks Head Coach Colin Clarke added a trio of veterans last week, all with a past connection to the Railhawks. Midfielder Austin da Luz, 27, returns to the squad after he was released by Orlando City. But prior to his one year in Orlando, da Luz was with the Railhawks for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. In total, da Luz has 48 appearances, 6 goals, and 10 assists for Carolina. Defensive midfielder Chris Nurse has also signed on for what will be his third season in Cary, NC. Nurse made 30 appearances for the club back in 2011 and 2012 and was an integral part of Carolina winning the NASL regular season title in 2011. With just under 100 appearances in NASL for various teams, Nurse provides significant experience to the roster. 31-year-old defender Mamadou “Futty” Danso is returning to Carolina after playing for the Railhawks U-23 team all the way back in 2008. He has spent the majority of his career with the Portland Timbers, making 100 appearances at the USL and MLS level. Clarke is hoping that all that experience will equal an assured center back on his back line for the 2015 campaign. Railhawks fans are hoping that the new signees familiarity means a quick transition on the field. Carolina has consistently been one of lowest spending teams in the league and currently only have 17 players on the official roster. The team did manage a win in its first game of the preseason against former coach Martin Rennie’s Seoul E-Land via a penalty shootout after a scoreless 90 minutes.

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  • The Don

    I live to crush the NASL!

  • Esteban

    Huge step back for NASL if they lose Minnesota United, and it looks all but done.

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