Changes in Store for D2 Soccer with North American Soccer League
Several changes will take place within North American Soccer League (NASL) teams this season that will bring a touch of professionalism to D2 that it has never seen before. It will also bring them into FIFA compliance.
This past winter the NASL Technical Committee, who consisted of former U.S. National Team player and now Director of Soccer for Traffic Sports Fernando Clavijo, former MLS star and now NSC Stars Head Coach Manny Lagos, and Fort Lauderdale Strikers General Manager Luiz Muzzi gathered when the league held its organizational meetings. According to Lagos, several changes came out of those meetings. The group wanted to make sure the teams would not have to play so many games so close together as had been done in the past. This is a change that started to take place last season when the USSF ran the league. This year, most all of the games are on weekends with the majority on Saturday evenings. By scheduling games more infrequently, it allowed the committee to change the substitution rule for D2 from 5 players as has been the standard for years, down to 3, the FIFA standard. Lagos told IMS the change will mean coaches will have to be more careful in their game-day selection and it will keep them from making two and three substitutions late in the game just to kill a game off.
While the lowering of substitutions will mean not as many players will get on the field in a game, it could have a positive effect in teams’ training sessions. Each player will have to work harder in order to impress the manager that he is one of the 11 to 14 players that could see field time. It will also bring the league up to the same standards as MLS as well as all professional leagues throughout the world.
Another change for this year’s league will be travel squad requirements. In the past there were a few teams that would travel with the minimum amount of players and one coach. The Technical Committee created a new rule for its NASL teams that each squad must travel with a minimum of 17 players, a medical trainer, coach and assistant coach. Lagos said the players will be better looked after with their own trainer on the trip who is already familiar with the players. He also felt the addition of players on the trip will allow a coach a better selection of players in order to put the best starting eleven on the field at away games, therefore improving the quality of the league.