The last 12 months have been rather eventful for the North American Soccer League (NASL). A league that once folded before some of us were born has begun to become some what relevant again. Even putting aside the excitement surrounding the return of the New York Cosmos to professional soccer---a team that is surrounded and entrenched in US Soccer history---one sees how well the league fared against some of the MLS clubs. NASL knocked out two of the big dogs in the LA Galaxy (2-0, Carolina RailHawks) and Seattle Sounders FC (1-0, Tampa Bay Rowdies) this past year.
Add that to the expansion plans of the league outside of New York. This past year they've added Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Oklahoma City to their growing portfolio. These were shrewd moves to get toe holds in two cities that have limited professional sports and strengthen their ties in Florida, what with three soccer cities in South Florida and four in the Southeastern region.
The league is obviously poised for a positive return.
Living in Tampa for the next few months, I plan on taking in at least one match (this weekend in their Derby game vs. Fort Lauderdale) and checking out the scene.
Okay, there is the narrative. Let's take a look at the table and some numbers:
Advanced Shot Info
Okay, my new friends here in Tampa won't like this very much but Fort Lauderdale should have finished much higher in the table. The disparity in the table between Minnesota and the Strikers is amazing considering the shot data. Though, between expected points and PDO, maybe United FC finished about where they should expect.
There is surprisingly a lot of data in these supplied match reports. I know it may not seem like it, but there is. The time stamped shots can give us a bit more insight to the context of the shots. While we still can't get to know some of the players (outside of the goal scorers) as well, it helps us get to know the teams as a whole within that league.
You can say what you want, but I love the idea of NASL growing and becoming legit competition with MLS. I love USL, NASL and MLS playing in the Open Cup, and I love seeing the sport grow in the country.
I'll continue to throw NASL data out as I collect it. With my new city having an NASL team and a derby game this weekend, I thought it a great time to put this stuff out there. Now talk among yourselves...