“Yes,” Johnson texted back. “That works well for Bill’s schedule.”
For the past 21 years, Bill’s schedule has taken him to over 50 countries by his estimation, working in industries ranging from professional football to sports management to food and beverage services. After being tapped last November to replace outgoing NASL Commissioner David Downs, Peterson embarked on a listening tour that’s now covered every present and imminent NASL market save Ottawa, where he plans to visit soon. On the day we met, he was finishing a 24-hour swing through Cary, N.C. This week brought a trip to the NASL AGM in Indianapolis, a city unveiled as home to the league’s newest expansion franchise.
The 48-year-old executive has bounced from port to port, coast to coast, and continent to continent. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m not wired to sit in one place for 10 or 20 years and steward something,” Peterson says. “I want to build it and grow it. I want to see movement.”
The 31-year-old Addlery has been one of the most potent scorers in Division 2 soccer since 2008, when he netted five goals for the Vancouver Whitecaps, then a member of USL-1. Addlery signed with the Puerto Rico Islanders in 2009 and played his first three seasons there for Colin Clarke, now the manager of the RailHawks. Over his four total seasons Puerto Rico, Addlery scored nearly 50 goals in all competitions, including domestic league and cup play as well as the CONCACAF Champions League. Addlery is the career scoring leader in Islanders' history.
Addlery also earned six caps for the Jamaican national team from 2009-2010.
“Nick is a proven striker and has been one of the top players in the league,” said RailHawks manager Colin Clarke in a statement. “He will be a great addition to our attack and be a leader on and off the field. Nick was a consistent presence in the community in Puerto Rico and I know he will be heavily involved in the Triangle community.”
After beginning his professional career in Trinidad and Tobago, Clarke signed Addlerly in 2007 to play for the Virginia Beach Mariners. However, that club folded prior to the beginning of the season. After a trial, Addlery was signed by D.C. United, where he made 11 appearance and scored one goal for a team that won Major League Soccer's Supporters Shield.
Addlery's departure extends an exodus from the Islanders, which announced last month that it would not compete in the NASL's Spring Season and instead attempt to rejoin the league for the Fall Season in August. Over the past several weeks, Jay Needham and David Foley signed with other NASL clubs while Jonathan Faña began play with Alianza F.C. in El Salvador.
Addlery joins a RailHawks' offense that, thus far, includes returnees Zack Schilawski, Brian Shriver, Nick Zimmerman, Ty Shipalane and Brian Ackley.
In attendance were NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson and principal team owner Ersal Ozdemir, chief executive officer of Keystone Group LLC.
“Indiana is home to the current and eight-time NCAA Men’s Soccer champions — Indiana University, numerous World Cup players and more than 60,000 youth soccer players,” said Ozdemir in a statement. “I want to offer our sports-minded city and soccer community the opportunity to truly experience this beautiful game in a fun, safe and family friendly environment. Professional soccer’s national popularity has grown exponentially over the last several decades. I want Indianapolis to be part of the world’s game and home to Indiana’s team.”
Fans are being invited to vote on the team name. Interestingly, the name options do not include "Racing Indy FC," the moniker previously advocated by The Brickyard Battalion, the supporters group behind the grassroots movement to bring pro soccer to Indianapolis.
According to the NASL press release, Indy Pro Soccer is in discussions with Indiana University to play its 2014 home games at Michael Carroll Stadium located on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). In recent weeks, the two sites under consideration were Carroll Stadium and the nearby Butler Bowl. However, the long-term goal is to construct a downtown stadium.
Soccer consultant Peter Wilt, who has been on the ground in Indianapolis for months heading the club's publicity campaign, will be named the team's general manager. A team coach will be selected later this year.
Indianapolis joins three other franchises slated to begin play in the NASL between now and 2014: the New York Cosmos, currently set to kickoff in August 2013, and clubs in Ottawa and Loudoun County, Va. that are also scheduled to open in 2014.
The RailHawks opens their 2013 campaign on April 6 on the road against the defending NASL champion Tampa Bay Rowdies, thus avoiding having to market a home match during NCAA Final Four weekend. Carolina’s first game at WakeMed Soccer Park will be the following Saturday, April 13 when it hosts the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
The RailHawks will not host an Independence Day holiday game for the first time since 2010. However, the club will put on their perennial fireworks celebration in conjunction with the Saturday, June 29 home match against the Atlanta Silverbacks. The RailHawk are also the only league team with no game scheduled over Memorial Day weekend in May.
Other notable RailHawks matches include the May 4 visit to the Minnesota Stars, which will take place in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The San Antonio Scorpions visit WakeMed Park on May 11, the day before Mother’s Day (marketing tie-in alert!). Overall, every RailHawks home game over the Spring Season is scheduled on a Saturday night. However, participation in the 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has the potential to fill several weekdays during May and June.
During the Spring Season, each NASL club faces every other league member twice in a home-and-away set. The club that finishes with the most accumulated points wins the Spring Championship and the right to host the winner of the ensuing Fall Season for the one-game NASL Soccer Bowl championship in mid-November.
The Puerto Rico Islanders and expansion New York Cosmos previously announced that they will not compete during the Spring Season. Both clubs say they will initiate play at the beginning of the 2013 Fall Season. However, while league sources are confident that the Cosmos will be ready to kick off at that time, the future of the Islanders remains hazy. Just this week, former Islanders defender Jay Needham signed with the Rowdies, the first of undoubtedly more Islanders who will look to join other clubs.
In addition, the RailHawks announced that they will host the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer on Sunday, February 24 in the 5th Annual Hilton Garden Inn Durham Southpoint Community Shield Match. Vancouver, which are managed by former RailHawks gaffer Martin Rennie, also faced Carolina for last year’s Community Shield match, which the RailHawks won on a penalty kick shootout. In addition to Rennie, the Vancouver roster is expected to include such other ex-RailHawks as goalkeeper Brad Knighton, and midfielders Matt Watson and Jun Marques Davidson.
The Whitecaps play another preseason exhibition the preceding day when they take on the Chicago Fire in Charleston, S.C. In addition, Vancouver opens their MLS regular season campaign the following Saturday. The same scheduling logjam took place last season as well, causing Vancouver to send a split squad to Cary to take on the RailHawks.
“We don’t have a choice,” Vaught responded. “We have to sell them.”
UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: The NASL has now released an official statement confirming this announcement.
According to high-ranking league sources, the North American Soccer League (NASL) will announce today that the Puerto Rico Islanders will not participate in the Spring Season under the new split regular season format being instituted by the league in 2013. The official decision was finalized during a teleconference of the NASL’s Board of Governors late yesterday afternoon.
The Islanders’ ownership group has long been a confederation of investors with varying stakes in the club, led team spokesman Andrés (Andy) Guillemard-Noble. However, without a primary majority owner supplying the club’s funding, the principal source of financing for the Islanders continues to be the Puerto Rican government, which last year spearheaded the multi-million dollar renovation of Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, the Islanders’ home ground, into a soccer-specific facility. Delays in completing those renovations required the Islanders to play 10 of their 14 NASL homes matches last season at the tiny Bayamon Soccer Complex. As a result, the Islanders’ average home attendance was 1,864, the second-lowest in the league.
However, the government’s ongoing financial backing was thrown into doubt after an upheaval in the Puerto Rican government following last November’s general elections. Alejandro García Padilla narrowly defeated incumbent governor Luis Fortuño, and Padilla’s Popular Democratic Party (PPD) wrested majorities in both Puerto Rico’s Senate and House of Representatives away from Fortuño’s New Progressive Party (NPP).
Padilla and his party do not assume power until January. As a result, uncertainty persists over whether the new government will continue financial backing of the Islanders in time for the start of the 2013 season, if at all. Even if financial support continues, it’s unlikely those allocations would be in place before the NASL must finalize scheduling and other logistics for the upcoming spring season, which is tentatively scheduled to begin the first weekend in April.
The NASL anticipates the Islanders will be able to participate in the fall championship, which will begin around early August and run through early November. It remains unclear at this time what La Tropa Naranja’s status will be regarding participation in regional cup competitions, including the CFU Club Championship and potentially the CONCACAF Champions League.
This news comes on the heels of the recent announcement by the New York Cosmos, the NASL’s newest expansion franchise, that it also will not begin play until the 2013 Fall Season. As a result, seven teams—including the Carolina RailHawks—will now compete in the NASL’s Apertura and either eight or nine clubs will compete in the Clausura.
Such spirit is to be expected anytime two traditional basketball schools meetup. However, Friday’s soccer result carried far greater import in its particular sport. As a result of its victory, Indiana returns to the College Cup for the first time since winning the 2004 national championship and continues an improbable run through this year’s tourney that includes road wins over No. 1 seed Notre Dame and now defending national champion North Carolina. Indeed, this is the second straight year and the third time in the last four years that the Hoosiers and Tar Heels have faced off in the NCAA Tournament.
On the other side, Indiana’s win ends North Carolina’s run of four consecutive trips to the College Cup; indeed, the last school to reach five straight College Cups was Indiana from 1997-01. Moreover, the loss also ends the Tar Heels’ 40-match home unbeaten streak, an incredible run that dates back to Sept. 3, 2010. Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley began his postgame press conference by saluting these accomplishments by the UNC program, plaudits that sounded more genuine than the usual pleasantries that athletic winners extend to their vanquished opponents.
This wholesale roster replenishment stands in marked contrast to a year ago, when the RailHawks had only two players under contract when Colin Clarke was announced as the team’s new manager following the departure of Martin Rennie. Indeed, team president Curt Johnson said at the time that a new emphasis in player personnel going forward would be signing more players to contracts that include club options for additional seasons, in contrast to the closed, short-term contracts often employed during Rennie’s tenure at Carolina.
“Being able to bring back a core group of the players is an important piece for our plans in 2013,” Clarke said through a team statement. “With the new league format, having stability and consistency in the roster will give us the opportunity to get off to a fast start.”
Exercising club options does not preclude any player from exploring other options, including Zimmerman, Franks, Shipalane and da Luz, who have all previously spent time in MLS. However, the option does allow Carolina the right to seek some form of compensation in exchange for relinquishing a player’s 2013 contractual rights. Moreover, exercising a club option does not necessarily guarantee that the player will end up being on the 2013 roster: one of the two players on the RailHawks’ roster when Clarke was hired was defender Cory Miller, who was released during training camp.
Clarke also said that the team was still working to resign other key members of last year’s squad. Team officials would not disclose who they were still attempting to resign, nor which player options, if any, the club declined to exercise.
Peterson worked for NFL Europe from 1991-2000 in various capacities, including general manager of the Amsterdam Admirals, before eventually becoming league president. While with NFL Europe, Peterson also worked with future Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, who left the NFL to take the reins at MLS in 1999. Peterson then spent six years as special vice president for AEG in Los Angeles, where he developed the bulk of his background with American soccer.
While at AEG, he served as managing director for the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., home of the AEG-owned LA Galaxy, and he served on the MLS Board of Governors. And for those David Beckham-to-NY Cosmos conspiracists out there, Peterson helped oversee many of AEG’s sport properties during his time with the company, including the David Beckham Academy.
Less auspiciously, Peterson served as chief operating officer for the ill-fated United Football League from January 2010 through October 2011. As the league tottered on the brink of eventual insolvency, Peterson filed a lawsuit against the league seeking more than $110,000 in unpaid wages, an action that remains pending in Duval County, Fla.
Peterson’s ties to MLS and Garber should provide some insight and, indeed, solace for those anxiously looking at this hiring as a harbinger of the NASL’s posture regarding future relations with MLS. The NASL is in a key phase of its development, with three expansion franchises—the Cosmos and startup clubs in Loudon County, Va. and Ottawa, Ontario—poised to join the eight-member league over the next months. Meanwhile, Peterson says he intends to hit the ground running by visiting each of the member clubs, including the Carolina RailHawks.
Click here to read the NASL's official announcement.
While Tampa Bay sported the same starting XI as last Saturday, the RailHawks made three changes. Greg Shields’ fractured ribs were evidently not as serious as Jordan Graye’s groin injury suffered last weekend, so Shields returned to right back. Gale Agbossoumonde got the nod in place of Richmond Kickers loanee Henry Kalungi, who was away on international call up for Uganda. And Orlando City loanee Matt Luzunaris was penciled in over Jason Garey.
The changes paid quick dividends in the 14th minute. After a sure shot from the Rowdies’ Luke Mulholland careened off the crossbar, it triggered a RailHawks counterattack that ended with Floyd Franks playing a through ball ahead to Luzunaris. The striker slotted the ball past NASL Best XI goalkeeper Jeff Attinella to draw the aggregate score even.
Four minutes later, Carolina went ahead when Ty Shipalane won a race with Attinella to a bounding ball near the top of the box. Shipalane poked the orb ahead and it trickled into the netting to put Carolina ahead 3-2.
A few more chances would come Carolina’s way, notably another Shipalane chip in the 33rd minute that flared wide left. But the next goal went to Tampa Bay after Shipalane was whistled for a penalty for a take down just inside the box. Midfielder Shane Hill took and buried the penalty kick to draw the clubs even on aggregate entering intermission.
In the 54th minute, a cross from Kupono Low off the left wing found a leaping Luzunaris, but he directed his point-blank header right of goal. With the RailHawks’ defense being misdirected at will, the Rowdies took the lead in the 65th minute when Mike Ambersley jumped on one of countless loose balls in the box, slamming it out of the scrum and past RailHawks goalkeeper Ray Burse.
An Amir Lowery header in the 81st off a RailHawks’ corner appeared destined for net until Stuart Campbell cleared away the threat with millimeters to spare. Three minutes later, the Rowdies seemed to put the game away when a grounder off the right wing from Keith Savage navigated its way past Carolina’s defenders and onto Mulholland’s waiting foot. His shot was deflected by Burse, but the England native lept on the rebound and completed the score to put Tampa Bay up by two.
A handball penalty against Tampa Bay in the 86th minute allowed Nick Zimmerman—an NASL Best XI teammate of Attinella and Mulholland—to convert his own PK and draw the RailHawks within a goal. But 5-4 would be where the scoring would stand, as the RailHawks fall in the league semifinals for the second consecutive season.
In many ways, the result was an encapsulation of the RailHawks’ 2012 campaign: flashes of offensive potency—punctuated by goals from Zimmerman and Shipalane—undercut by an erratic, inadequate defense.
Tampa Bay will have to wait until tomorrow’s semifinal finale between the San Antonio Scorpions and Minnesota Stars to determine who they will face in the NASL finals beginning next weekend. As for the RailHawks, a roller-coaster season ends without the championship that first-year manager Colin Clarke announced he aimed to deliver during the press conference announcing his hiring last December.