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Changes in Store for D2 Soccer with North American Soccer League

2011 April 6
by Brian Quarstad

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.

18 Responses
  1. Grant Stephens permalink
    April 6, 2011

    Thumbs up to all of these changes!

    The NASL is really starting to look, act, and operate like a true Division II league! The new websites, the hiring of a commissioner, and the increase in media coverage is already making a huge difference over last year’s edition. Lets hope that the on field product is as impressive!

    Its fun to log on to this site and see a new article/feature about the upcoming season everyday. The NASL truly has IMS to thank for getting the word out. Thanks, guys!

  2. Neal permalink
    April 6, 2011

    Excellent developments for the NASL and the good of the game.

  3. Greg permalink
    April 6, 2011

    Good stuff! Next thing you know MLS will start honoring the FIFA calendar.

    I know, crazy talk.

  4. Erik permalink
    April 6, 2011

    this is great news!

  5. April 6, 2011

    Greg, I disagree. Next thing you know, the rest of the world is going to conform to the MSL calendar. There seems to be a growing interest.

  6. Demolition Man permalink
    April 6, 2011

    Will there still be webcasts (aka streams) of games this year for NASL? I’m really looking forward to watching the Stars opening game this Saturday on one computer while flipping back and forth between the Galaxy and Revs game (via MLS MatchDay Live) on another. Good times!

  7. Demolition Man permalink
    April 6, 2011

    I mean the games the Galaxy and the Revs are playing on Saturday lol.

    Galaxy vs United and Revs vs RSL that is.

  8. Bart permalink
    April 6, 2011

    If MLS is not technically in FIFA compliance, why should D2 be in FIFA compliance? Is this important to USSF?

  9. April 6, 2011

    “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.”

    I can see the second point, but I can’t imagine an NASL-level coach would haphazardly put his starting eleven together, shrug his shoulders, and say “it doesn’t matter, I get five substitutes”.

    Now that Claude Anelka is gone, I mean.

  10. yankiboy permalink
    April 6, 2011

    @Bart: I missed the part about MLS not being in compliance. Were you referring to Greg’s joke about MLS not honoring the FIFA calendar?

  11. Someone from Montréal permalink
    April 6, 2011

    All very good additions. I don’t remember D2 being so professionnal,.

  12. Dave permalink
    April 6, 2011

    Anyone who wants MLS to honor the world’s schedule can help the fans shovel snow out of their seats in Chicago, Denver, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, New York, Boston, Kansas City, Washington, Philly, Columbus, and Montreal.

    We don’t have four seasons anymore. It’s summer and winter. And here soccer has to be a summer sport. It’s too damn cold to play even now in many places.

  13. April 6, 2011

    Being a Florida fan, as much as I’d LOVE a fall-spring schedule, it’s just not feasible if you’re going to have any Northern teams.

    I like the new D2 changes. I was always confused when I started following Miami FC that the rules for subs etc. were different from pretty much every other level of soccer.

  14. Strikers Return permalink
    April 6, 2011

    I think the big picture point to take out of these changes along with everything else the league has done in its first official year is they are obviously making every effort to be a true, professional D2 team. As someone who has read a LOT of criticism and dismissive comments of the NASL and their efforts over the last two years, I am very gratified at this point. Will this league survive long term and finally legitimately fill the D2 hole in the North American soccer pyramid? Too early to say of course. But I defy anyone to say the teams and league haven’t made a true professional effort to get it done.

    There is still a whole lot of work ahead for the league, but I feel good about the position they’ve put themselves in for Season 1. Can’t express this final comment strongly enough – now it is OUR turn to do OUR part. Everyone get out to the stadiums this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Cary, and Atlanta. All the work the teams and league have done won’t mean squat if the fans don’t come out and support them. Bring a friend to a game, get them hooked like you are. Plaster your Facebook and Twitter pages with all kinds of stuff about your team and the league. Let’s help in the effort to establish this league this year so that we have many more years to look forward to of exciting pro soccer action in our communities!

  15. Soccer Boy permalink
    April 6, 2011

    Follow the FIFA calendar? Umm, I love soccer, but watching that U of M Women’s soccer match late last fall in 15 degree weather with snow piled around the pitch was painful. We can’t keep the Metrodome inflated so I am not sure there is a suitable venue in MN.

  16. uhclem permalink
    April 6, 2011

    Actually, Benjamin, I can elaborate on the “more careful about their game-day selections” theory.

    Having only three substitutions means that, usually, great care must be kept to not waste a substitution that could easily be needed later for injured player replacement.

    With five substitutions available, coaches can be tempted to start players that are banged up a little, thinking that having to replace them early in the match would not limit their options later in the match.

    It also discourages coaches from rash experimentation. Some coaches might be tempted to gamble on being able to load their match-day line-up with lesser players against lesser teams or if his own squad has had a busy week. I have seen some coaches do that, hoping to “get by” but being able to bring in their top players to save the day, if necessary.

    Ultimately, it makes it much harder for a coach to cover up the flaws in his pre-game preperations and calculations. If he has misjudged his player selection or formation, he can’t just sub his way out of it without risking the team ending the match down a man because he has used up his substitutions covering his mistakes.

  17. April 7, 2011

    Good points, uhclem. I totally agree with that and I’m pretty sure what Lagos was getting at and what we’ve seen through the years. The 3-subs really is a game changer for managers.

  18. smatthew permalink
    April 7, 2011

    Pfft. yeah right, like those are the reasons they got rid of the 5 sub rule. Coaches were just tired of hearing fans yell, “SUB! SUB! What are you doing? SUB! You *expletive* have five to use!”, in the 14th minute when a players first touch of the game isn’t picture perfect… ZING!!!

    Also I hope no one changes their schedule, its awesomely perfect right now. I get to watch my home team from Spring to Fall and in the offseason from Fall to Spring the Euro leagues.

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