(MIAMI, Fla. April 2, 2013) - Four days from now... the race to host Soccer Bowl 2013 will beginand just like the nation where its teams will kick off the 2013 spring season on Saturday, the North American Soccer League is a melting pot for nationalities from around the world to thrive and prosper.
The core of players who make up the seven-team rosters for the new NASL campaign are predominantly from North America, and are joined by others spread far and wide from 29 countries. Nations regarded as traditional soccer hotbeds such as Brazil, Mexico and England are represented, as are many from the CONCACAF region. And then there are those from further afield, from Japan, Sierra Leone and India.
Countries represented on 2013 NASL rosters
England 8, Jamaica 5, Brazil 4, Colombia 4, Mexico 4, Bosnia 3, Croatia 3, Argentina 2, Scotland 2, Ghana 2, Trinidad & Tobago 2, Northern Ireland 2, Honduras 2, Costa Rica 2, Japan 2, Bulgaria 2, South Africa 2, Cuba 1, Sierra Leone 1, Italy 1, Serbia 1, Guyana 1, Venezuela 1, India 1, Malta 1, Netherlands 1, Finland 1, Cameroon 1, Liberia 1
Here’s a look at some of the NASL international contingent…
Veteran Tampa Bay Rowdies defender Takuya Yamada began his professional soccer career in the J. League with Tokyo Verdy in 1997, making 235 appearances and scoring 22 goals in eight years. His outstanding performance earned him four caps for the Japanese national team from 2003 to 2004.
Last year, Yamada was named to the 2012 NASL Best XI after leading the league in the regular season with 2,520 minutes played, starting in all 28 regular season matches and two post-season matches.
“His past experience dictates how important Yama has been for this club,” said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. “He has been consistent since his arrival and I was very fortunate to have a player like Yama on the squad when I arrived in 2011. There is no one better than him with regards to his work rate during the week, or on match days. You can expect a top class effort from him in every situation.”
From among the English players, FC Edmonton midfielder Chris Nurse will appear for his third NASL club, having played previously for the Puerto Rico Islanders and Carolina RailHawks. London-born Nurse is of Guyanese descent and has made 47 international appearances, scoring 5 goals, while also captaining his country.
FC Edmonton boasts a player born in India. Sadi Jalali is a Canadian youth international, but was born in New Delhi before moving to Canada at the age of three. His parents are both from Afghanistan and Jalali speaks English and Persian. He won a silver medal with Canada at the 2011 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Jamaica and represented Canada at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011.
After scoring 15 goals in 2011 for Carolina, Pablo Campos posted an MVP year with the San Antonio Scorpions in 2012 and then joined joining Minnesota United in January. A native of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, he scored 21 goals helping the Scorpions win the NASL regular season title. Campos played two seasons in Major League Soccer for San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake, winning the 2009 MLS Cup with RSL and has also played in Sweden for GAIS in Gothenburg.
A player aiming to impress on loan for the Strikers is Bulgarian forward Stefan Dimitrov, who will return to his parent club the New York Cosmos for the 2013 fall season.
“We’re excited we were able to work out a deal with the Cosmos to bring in Stefan Dimitrov,” said head coach Daryl Shore, who was an assistant coach with the Chicago Fire where the Bulgarian played in 2009. “He’s a player I’ve had some past experience with and he’s a target forward who is good in the air and we’re looking forward to him getting down here and playing for the Strikers.”
One of five Jamaicans currently playing in the NASL, FC Edmonton defender Lance Laing began his professional career with Harbor View, winning the Jamaican National Premier League title in both 2007 and 2010.
Laing earned his first call up to the full national team in 2008, and made his debut in a 0-0 friendly against El Salvador, and in 2012 earned a recall as Jamaica prepared for qualify games for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Experienced Carolina RailHawks defender Greg Shields made 86 consecutive appearances for Dunfermline Athletic and has also played for Charlton Athletic in the English Football League One, and Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle of the Scottish Premier League. As a youngster, he appeared in a UEFA Champions League game for Rangers in his native Scotland against Ajax.
Mba Ernest Tchoupe Ndefotsingclaims the longest name in the NASL this season and could provide a headache for fans wanting his name on the back of a replica shirt, but luckily for his Minnesota United teammates, the Cameroonian goes by the name Ernest.
Following a period in the Colombian league, the 25-year-old defender left his native Cameroon in 2008 to join Girardot F.C. of the Colombian second division. He moved the next season to Alianza Petrolera before finishing his stay in South America with Expreso Rojo.
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|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
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|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|