January 22, 2014
MY TWO CENTS
Cosmos, Lewis open door to change in the U.S. soccer landscape
By Matt Levine
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
The New York Cosmos may be a second division side, but they flashed top division muscle this past week. Signing Andre Lewis days before the Major League Soccer SuperDraft has forced the Vancouver Whitecaps to come to a loan/transfer agreement to secure the signing of their own draft pick. Vancouver had selected Lewis as the seventh overall pick.
The Cosmos will get compensation for the player or can boast an exciting young player in their squad. Either way itís a win for the North American Soccer League club.
This situation highlights a potential shift in the landscape of professional soccer in the U.S.
Will another club find themselves in a peculiar situation as the one Vancouver was just in? Itís hard to say it wonít for sure because if anything is being learned, especially from this offseason, is that anything can happen.
However, even if this exact scenario doesnít arise again, there is something bigger at play. The NASL continues to grow and is a league that has no salary cap restrictions. If NASL, who at this stage may not be able to bring huge names into the fold (Marcos Senna was a big coup), starts poaching the mid-tier players from MLS, it could present a big problem.
Not only will the NASL improve on the field, it will also open up doors for bigger names to eventually join as well as weaken the MLS. The aforementioned Senna is one of those quality players the other NASL clubs will hope they can entice someday.
One only needs to look at IndyEleven to see how popular new clubs into NASL can be and this is without playing a game yet. How much more of a frenzy would their ever-growing fan base get into if a big name signing was introduced in a press conference? What if that becomes the norm for the other NASL clubs?
The skill level in the NASL still needs to improve, but for a second division league it is showing ambition to be more than that.
The MLS through the good and the bad of its existence has had a stranglehold as far as the top league domestically. However with the Cosmos leading the way, NASL could continue to grow to be a general rival to MLS in quality.
Certainly, that playing out is still a long way away, but it is a prospect that could have big implications for soccer in this country.
Again if there is anything to take away from recent events, anything is possible.
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