NASL Roundup – Part 1

With the 2015 NASL Spring season just about one month away, we take a look at some of the off-season and preseason happenings in the league. We’ll cover the first half (in alphabetical order) of the teams today, from Atlanta to newcomer Jacksonville. Click on the link to each team’s web site for more information. 

Atlanta Silverbacks

The best news about the 2015 season for the Silverbacks is that there will be a 2015 season for the Silverbacks. The talk at the end of last season was that Atlanta would not compete in 2015, but the NASL will operate the team this season while it looks for local ownership.

Eric Wynalda is out as technical director and Gary Smith is in as Atlanta’s new head coach.

The roster is still being built. Hans Denissen, formerly with New York and San Antonio, has been signed, and Shaka Bangura, Jaime Chavez, and Matt Horth will return from last year’s squad. Some notable players who won’t be back include Pablo Cruz (to the San Antonio Scorpions) and Kwadwo Poku (to new MLS team New York City FC). Pre-season friendlies start on March 7 with a dual scrimmage against Georgia Southern and Georgia State. 

Carolina Railhawks

The RailHawks open their preseason schedule on March 8th with an international friendly against Seoul E-Land FC from South Korea.

Defender Kupono Low will be with the club for his ninth season along with NASL veterans Mark Anderson and Neil Hlavaty.

And what I’m most excited about is that the team and Lonerider Brewery have agreed to create a RailHawks-branded craft beer. The new RailHawks-branded beer will be available at 2015 home games and selected retail outlets.

FC Edmonton

Soccer will be a focal point in the Edmonton area this year as the city is one of the host cities for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer.

FC Edmonton have already started preseason training sessions at Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre. They’ll continue to train in Canada before heading to Florida for additional training and the NASL Challenge tournament.

Former New England Revolution and D.C. United midfielder Sainey Nyassi has signed with the Eddies as has former Minnesota United goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel.

The Eddies are also looking forward to this year’s Amway Canadian Championship, which starts in April. A CONCACAF Champions League qualifying spot will again be on the line, along with national soccer bragging rights.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers

The Strikers preseason camp has players from a dozen countries, but forward Hui Wang-Fung wins the Long Distance award. He’s from Hong Kong, which is nearly 9,000 miles from the Strikers’ Lockhart Stadium.

2014 captain and veteran defender Iván Guerrero is back for third year in Fort Lauderdale. He is joined in the back by German defender Fabian Kling, who has played with Germany clubs FV Illertissen and TSV Rain am Lech, along with NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions.

The Strikers have a very busy nine game preseason schedule. starting February 28 against Jacksonville Armada FC.

Indy Eleven

A lot of the preseason news for Indy revolves around their potential new stadium. The proposed construction of an 18,500-seat stadium in downtown Indianapolis has already passed the Indiana House of Representatives.

Indy’s midfield will have Sergio Peña back from last season. Peña joined the club midseason last year and started 13 of the final 17 games. Former MLS and NASL defender Greg Janicki has signed with Indy. Osman Melgares, a former teammate of Peña’s and Bradley University standout Wojciech Wojcik are also on the roster.

Indy started their preseason training in Arizona, but are headed back to the Midwest for five pre-season games in March. Indy sold out all 14 home games in 2014 and is likely to keep that streak going in their home opener April 11 against the Cosmos.

Jacksonville Armada FC

The new kids on the block, Jacksonville kicks off their inaugural NASL season on April 4 against FC Edmonton. Preseason preparation is already well underway, including a win in Armada FC’s first ever game over MLS’s Philadelphia Union. The game featured an NASL preseason record crowd of 13,934.

Jacksonville stayed close to home in signing Floridians Sebastian Evers (G), Nicolas Perea (M), Ramak Safi (M) and Tyler Williams (F) to the roster.

The team is also making their presence felt in the Jacksonville community, participating in events benefitting local nonprofits The Wolfson Children’s Challenge and Ronald McDonald House.

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