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Professional Soccer in Florida: A Proud Legacy

From the NASL website
On Saturday the Fort Lauderdale Strikers will host FC Tampa Bay in a renewal of an intense NASL rivalry. Below is a quick narrative of the history of professional soccer in the state of Florida.

Professional Soccer in Florida Began in 1972 with the introduction of the Miami Gatos, led by players Warren Archibald, Roberto Aguirre and Willie Evans. The team played in the US first division, the North American Soccer League (NASL).  After one year as the Gatos the team became the Miami Toros. The Toros had a very successful 1974 campaign in which they made it to the championship game led by 1st team all-stars Roberto Aguirre and Ronnie Sharp.

In 1975, the NASL expanded to the Tampa Bay area by way of the Tampa Bay Rowdies who played their home games at Tampa Stadium. Arriving a year before the NFL Buccaneers, the Rowdies were an instant hit in the market drawing large crowds and winning the Soccer Bowl in the team’s inaugural season.
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2011 Season Starts with a Bang St Louis Lions and Des Moines

Press Release from the St. Louis Lions

St. Louis, Mo. (May 13, 2011)- The St Louis Lions, of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League, are off to Des Moines today in anticipation for the 2001 season kick-off against the Des Moines Menace tomorrow at 7:30pm.


The Lions look to improve upon their 2010 season performance which saw the Lions finish in 5th place in the Heartland conference.

“Last year we were in a rebuilding year.” Said Tony Glavin Head Coach of the Lions “We had a lot of players move on to the professional ranks from the ‘09 season and we had to refocus on bringing in younger players. Our focus is to help players advance to the professional ranks and the process is working.”

In the last five years the Lions have helped more than 10 players advance into professional soccer.     

“The Heartland Conference is an extremely tough conference, every game is crucial and it really gives the players a good idea of what to expect when they get to the professional level” says Glavin.
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NASL Week in Review

From the NASL.com website.

NASL Week in Review
Posted on Mon, Apr 25, 2011



Scoring Summary

CAR: Etienne Barbara, 19’

CAR: Nick Zimmerman, 76’

Attendance: 1,181


CAROLINA: GK Brad Knighton, D Kupono Low, D John Krause, D Brad Rusin, D Devon McKenney, M Floyd Franks, M Brian Farber (Cory Elenio, 49’), M Matt Watson, M Nick Zimmerman, F Pablo Campos (Jonny Steele, 68’) F Etienne Barbara (Allan Russell, 74’)

EDMONTON: GK Rein Baart, D Alex Suprenant (Andre Duberry, 75’), D Paul Hamilton, D Dominic Oppong, D Antonio Rago (Kyle Yamada, 79’), M Shaun Saiko, M Chris Kooy, M Sam Lam, F Chris Lemire, F Conrad Smith, F Daniel Antoniuk
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David Downs Named NASL Commissioner

From the NASL website

Veteran soccer and broadcast executive to lead NASL

MIAMI, FL (March 28, 2011) – The North American Soccer League (NASL) is pleased to announce the appointment of David Downs as the league’s first Commissioner. Downs will assume his new role with the NASL on April 4th.  

Downs joins the NASL after serving as Executive Director of the USA Bid Committee, the organization created by the U.S. Soccer Federation to participate in the bidding process to host the FIFA World Cup™ in 2018 and 2022.  Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years in the broadcast industry as an executive with both ABC Sports and Univision Communications. During his broadcast career, Downs was instrumental in the successful negotiations to secure the U.S. television rights to every World Cup from USA ’94, through Brazil ’14.

 “I’m excited to hit the ground running with the NASL as we work to elevate second division soccer in North America and play an active role in taking soccer to the next level in the region,” said Downs. “We plan to work closely with the fans, players, administrators, other leagues and everyone else involved in this beautiful game to build up the NASL at a league and local market level.”

Under Downs’ leadership, the USA Bid Committee achieved several milestones while increasing awareness and interest in the sport domestically. “From the outset our mission was to help raise the profile of the sport here while meeting or exceeding FIFA’s stringent technical demands and I am confident that we succeeded in doing so,” Downs stated. Prior to serving as the Executive Director of the USA Bid Committee, Downs was President of Univision Sports. In that role, Downs played an integral part in acquiring the television rights and supervising the production of sports programming for all three networks in the Univision family.

Downs has been involved with soccer in America for several decades, as a college player, a licensed youth coach, and as the parent of two soccer-playing children.  He also currently serves on the board of the USSF Development Academy club FC Westchester.

“The stars continue to align for the new NASL.  The combination of David’s experience in sports television including soccer, his recent experience leading the US World Cup bid and his passion for and understanding of soccer globally and domestically uniquely position him to lead the NASL,” said Aaron Davidson, NASL CEO and member of the NASL Board of Directors and Executive Committee. “David has been directly involved in the growth of soccer in this country and thus appreciates the critical role that the NASL will play in the continued growth of the sport.”

The Inaugural NASL season kicks off on April 9th with all eight teams in action. The top six teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the playoffs, with the top two finishers receiving a first round playoff bye. Tickets are available for all eight NASL teams by visiting NASL.com on the web.

FC Edmonton Play First Preseason Match

From the NASL website.

CASA GRANDE, Arizona – After about six months of kicking each other, FC Edmonton finally got some game action in against an unfamiliar foe Monday night in Arizona.

MLS finalists FC Dallas rolled in to Casa Grande for a preseason game against FCE and left with a 3-0 victory, but despite the loss, Head Coach Harry Sinkgraven saw some positive signs from his squad who were perhaps unlucky not to net a goal against a team who has been playing outdoor games together since the middle of January.

“We played an MLS team who have been training for two months outside, we’ve been training for two days so of course we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Sinkgraven said. “We saw some good things and we also saw some mistakes but we have time to work on them. It’s our second day outside and we have to take our time to improve and to become a better team.”

FC Edmonton played a split squad game with mass substitutions at halftime. Midfielder Chris Kooy played the first half and was both pleased and disappointed with the result.
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RailHawks Defeat Wake Forest 2-0

From the NASL website.

The Carolina RailHawks defeated the Wake Forest men’s soccer team 2–0 Friday night at Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.  The match was the first of the RailHawks preseason exhibition schedule in preparation for the 2011 NASL season.  Sallieu Bundu and Brian Farber led the way for the RailHawks with 2 goals and 2 assist, respectively.  The first goal came in the 52nd minute when the RailHawks connected a series of passes allowing Jonny Steele to play a through ball to Brian Farber down the sideline.  Farber sent in a cross to Bundu who tallied his first score with a header into the back of the net.

  In the 73rd minute Farber and Bundu connected once more for the RailHawks second goal. A strong stand by the RailHawks defense led to a counterattack when Brian Farber collected the ball and broke away from the Wake Forest defense before finding Bundu for the score.  The standout play of Wake Forest goalkeeper Doug Ryan was a highlight for the Demon Deacons, as Ryan denied numerous scoring opportunities that were a created through the RailHawks strong play.
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FC Tampa Bay Draw with University of Tampa

From the NASL website.

FC Tampa Bay opened its 2011 preseason slate with a 1-1 draw against the University of Tampa.

UT took a 1-0 lead off Kemal Malcolm’s free kick in the 66th minute of the game. FCTB midfielder and UT alum Pascal Millien answered back in the 81st minute with an assist from Chad Burt for the game-tying goal.

FC Tampa Bay, which used a lineup of mostly trialists in the second half, was also missing Jeremy Christie, Yendry Diaz, Tony McManus and J.P. Rodrigues for the match.

FCTB had several scoring opportunities early in the game. Mike Ambersley fired the first shot in the seventh minute and several more chances kept University of Tampa keeper David Niepal busy; including shots from Aaron King, Takuya Yamada and UT alum Pascal Millien.

In the second half Mozzi Gyorio, who subbed for 2010 leading scorer Aaron King, had seven shots. Several of those shots were off passes from midfielder Chad Burt. Burt also fired shots in the 52nd and 84th minutes of the game.
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