By Paul Kennedy and Ridge Mahoney
The NASL, which recently finished its spring season with seven teams, could be up to as many as 14 teams by the time the 2015 season starts.
The league's board of governors approved expansion teams for Jacksonville, Fla., and Oklahoma City, Okla., to begin play in the 2015 spring season.
"We are delighted to be expanding to two cities that clearly have a passion for soccer, where we believe local fans will be excited to welcome our newest teams," said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson in a statement. "We have considered expansion to cities that meet specific criteria and most importantly have strong ownership groups that will provide a long and stable future for the NASL in those markets, which we clearly have in both Jacksonville and Oklahoma City."
JACKSONVILLE.Jacksonville has staged successful U.S. international matches in the last 14 months -- 44,428 for USA-Scotland men and 18,656 for USA-Scotland women -- though a Tigres-Cruz Azul friendly drew just 4,273 recently at EverBank Field.
The old NASL played in Jacksonville in 1981 (average attendance: 9,507
and 1982 (7,160) after the Tea Men moved from New England.
Mark Frischand former professional MLS goalkeeper Dario Sala of the Sunshine Soccer Group, which staged the Mexican exhibition game, lead the Jacksonville NASL group.
No home for the new NASL team was announced.
"I am thrilled to have helped lead an effort to bring pro soccer back to Jacksonville," said Frisch in a statement. "I am very grateful for all the support from the city and the fans leading up to this day. I know the fans out there have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I cannot wait to go out and meet them all personally and talk the beautiful game of soccer in Jacksonville."
OKLAHOMA CITY.Oklahoma City businessman Tim McLaughlin heads OKC Pro Soccer LLC that received approval to operate an NASL team. It comes three weeks after a rival group received approval from USL PRO to operate a team beginning next year in Oklahoma City.
An NASL-supported group was recently awarded a two-year lease plus a renewal option to Taft Stadium by the Oklahoma City Public Schools board. It filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in response to a “cease and desist” letter issued by United Soccer Leagues, which is seeking to enforce the covenant-not-to-compete clause in the franchise agreement some of the NASL backers have with United Soccer Leagues for PDL club Oklahoma City FC.
"Bringing a high-level professional soccer club to Oklahoma City is going to add an exciting new sports dimension to our city and state," said McLaughlin in a statement. "We look forward to working with the NASL to give our community a soccer team and game experience people will be talking about for many years to come.
The NASL's eighth team, the New York Cosmos, who are currently training in England, kick off the second half of the 2013 NASL season Aug. 3. A ninth team, the Puerto Rico Islanders, is currently on hiatus, sitting out both halves of the 2013 season. Five more teams have been approved for 2014 or 2015.
NASL Expansion Teams:
Indy Eleven (2014)
Ottawa Fury FC (2014)
Virginia Cavalry FC (2014)
Oklahoma City (2015)
SPORT SUMMIT WILL SALUTE CANTOR. Veteran soccer broadcaster Andres Cantor, whose energetic commentary and unforgettable goal calls have been a staple of American soccer coverage for more than two decades and made him a national celebrity, will be honored Aug. 14 at the Cynopsis Sports Business Summit in New York.
The Argentine-born Cantor, who is currently employed by Telemundo and is chairman of the Futbol de Primera radio network, will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Deportes Telemundo executive vice presidentJorge Hildago.
Cantor, 50, has called soccer games and other sports in Spanish and English for Univision, NBC, and Telemundo since the 1980s. Born in Buenos Aires, he moved with his family to Southern California in his teen years and later attended the University of Southern California.
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