The North American Soccer League Strikes Back
“Party Like It’s 1979”, says the usually stone cold sober Kenn Tomasch. “The future of American soccer appears to be the past of American soccer.”
Kenn writes this because news broke today that the breakaway second-tier league made-up of nine former USL and new clubs may use the North American Soccer League name for itself, after Miami FC put in two trademark claims.
Kenn’s response, not quite as euphoric as I painted it above, is actually a well-balanced take on the name’s real importance (not as important as a lot of other stuff) tinged with a little welcome nostalgia for those of us too young to remember the league.
Kenn points to the growing trend of American soccer teams claiming a part of their city’s past with the sport, and resurrecting NASL team names has hardly done any harm to Seattle, Portland or Vancouver, for example. Indeed, a connection to the past is something that gives a little more depth to each club’s existence, even if it’s a mythical imagined past of fathers and sons following the Sounders various incarnations since the 1970s.
I think American soccer has grown up enough not to be afraid of the NASL boogyman any longer (lessons have been learned well enough already), though there’s something fitting if it is indeed used on this risky, ambitious breakaway. What really matters is the substance of the league’s business plan and the performance of each club’s front office, not the name.
Though some have immediately rubbished the name’s return in any case, a poll on Inside Minnesota Soccer (the best site for news on the breakaway league, incidentally) suggests reaction is mixed and broadly positive, with more in favour of the NASL name returning than against it.
Oh…and how about them Cosmos, then?