2017 NASL Season Opens This Weekend
The 2017 NASL Season prepares to kick off on Saturday as new regions are explored during opening day. The New York Cosmos open their title defense on the road in Puerto Rico, while San Francisco Deltas welcome Indy Eleven to Kezar Stadium.
The opening weekend schedule is headlined by the Deltas’ inaugural match, which comes against 2016 runner-up Indy Eleven at San Francisco’s historic Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park.
The New York Cosmos will kick off their 2016 NASL title defense against Puerto Rico FC. At Wake Med Soccer Park, North Carolina FC will play its first league game since its offseason rebrand, hosting Miami FC in Cary, N.C.
Puerto Rico FC vs. New York Cosmos
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, March 25
Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium | Bayamón, P.R.
Watch | beIN SPORTS (National – U.S.) beIN SPORTS CONNECT (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada)
The New York Cosmos claimed their third NASL title in four years last November, winning on penalty kicks versus Indy Eleven. The club’s title defense begins in the Caribbean on Saturday with a matchup against Puerto Rico FC.
The Cosmos welcome the return of their core squad that has brought much success over the years, including goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, captain and defender Carlos Mendes, and midfielder Danny Szetela. The Cosmos also added Italian forward Amauri to their attack, along with Salvadoran international Irvin Herrera. NASL veteran Richard Menjivar, also a Salvadoran international, joined the franchise, as did midfielders Javi Márquez and Juan Guerra.
Puerto Rico FC heads into the season with a young, inspired squad. The club added plenty of promising talent such as Puerto Rican international Michael Ramos, but new additions Giuseppe Gentile, Conor Doyle, and Barcelona Academy product Jordi Quintillá will especially look to put their stamp on the team. Leading the line is Puerto Rican international Hector Ramos who recorded eight goals during the 2016 Fall Season. In the offseason, the club also signed Honduran international Jairo Puerto who will add critical experience to the youthful squad.
New York owned the season series against Puerto Rico FC last campaign, winning both matchups, but this weekend’s hosts have benefitted from a competitive preseason lineup that included three international matches in the Caribbean Club Championship.
North Carolina FC vs. Miami FC
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, March 25
WakeMed Soccer Park | Cary, N.C.
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada), Spectrum SportsChannel (Regional – North and South Carolina), WRAL2 (Local – Cary/Raleigh)
Miami FC hits the road for its first match of the 2017 campaign with several new faces on its roster. The club’s season-opening opponent on Saturday has a new look following the Carolina RailHawks’ rebranding to North Carolina FC during the offseason.
While Miami’s late push to advance to last year’s postseason fell short, head coach Alessandro Nesta enters this season with confidence after bolstering his squad with several players. In came former Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner Stefano Pinho, as well as 2016 NASL Best XI member Michel, who recorded 14 goals a year ago. Also added into the mix is former Indy Eleven playmaker Dylan Mares.
Ushering in a “new state of soccer” in the Triangle, North Carolina FC will look to open the season on the right foot with a win in front of its home supporters. Returning to the center of the midfield is the club’s captain, Nazmi Albadawi, who set a league record with 10 assists during the 2016 campaign. One of the more intriguing signings of the offseason is North Carolina FC’s addition of Lance Laing on the left flank. Laing, a three-time NASL Best XI selection, will seek to rekindle his best form at WakeMed Soccer Park.
San Francisco Deltas vs. Indy Eleven
10 p.m. ET | Saturday, March 25
Kezar Stadium | San Francisco, Calif.
Watch | Twitter (National – U.S., Canada)
Saturday night will kick-start a new era of professional soccer in the Bay Area as the San Francisco Deltas host last year’s runner-up, Indy Eleven, at Kezar Stadium.
Under the direction of head coach Marc Dos Santos, who reached The Championship Final in 2015, San Francisco boasts a roster full of veteran experience. Familiar players to Dos Santos, including forward Tom Heinemann and goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, headline San Francisco’s roster.
Indy Eleven enters the campaign eager to pick up where they left off in 2016, but of course, Tim Hankinson’s side will want to go one step further and lift the Soccer Bowl Trophy. The Boys in Blue return with the majority of last year’s roster, including top scorer Eamon Zayed, who found the net 15 times last season. That team chemistry should serve the club well during the upcoming campaign, but Indy also added several new additions that could impact its season in a positive way. In particular, former Minnesota United midfielder Ben Speas will add some creativity and an additional goalscoring presence.