NASL Unveils Full 2016 Season Schedule

11 teams will compete in the Spring Season and 12 in the Fall Season with the addition of Puerto Rico FC
NASL Staff | Jan 14, 2016

The North American Soccer League released its 2016 schedule on Thursday, revealing the full lineup of Spring Season and Fall Season matchups for its sixth season.

Each club will play each other once in the Spring Season, hosting five clashes at home and playing the other five away for a grand total of 10 matches.  In the Fall Season, when expansion side Puerto Rico FC joins the fold, each club will play each other twice – once home and once away – for a total of 22 matches.    

“It's incredible when you realize that we're less than 80 days away from the start of what will be our most exciting season yet,” NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said. “Our clubs have made unbelievable progress this offseason, and with some of the signings and announcements being made across the league, the talent on the field is going to be at an all-time high.”

Kicking off on Saturday, April 2, the league’s opening weekend features five exciting tilts. The defending champion New York Cosmos will host Ottawa Fury FC on Sunday, April 3, at Shuart Stadium, where the club knocked off the Canadian side two months ago in The Championship Final to lift its second Soccer Bowl trophy in three years.

“Every game we’ve played against Ottawa Fury FC over the last two years has been extremely intense and hard fought,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese head. “I’m sure they will welcome this opening fixture and look at it as a chance to get revenge.”

Down in South Florida, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers will host league newcomer – and neighbor – Miami FC in what could be the start of an intense local rivalry. Italian legend and newly crowned head coach Alessandro Nesta will lead Miami FC in its inaugural match against the experienced Caio Zanardi, who will be coaching his first NASL match at the helm of the Strikers on April 2.

Another club playing in its inaugural match will be Rayo OKC, who will clash with Canadian side FC Edmonton on April 2 at Miller Stadium. 2014 NASL Championship winner and new Rayo OKC head coach Alen Marcina will lead the club as it opens up the 2016 season at home.

"As a first-year organization, we’re excited to be a part of a competitive and growing league,” Marcina said. “We look forward to starting the season off against a very strong FC Edmonton side. It will be a great opportunity to show our supporters and our community a product that they can be proud of by doing it the Rayo way."

A new chapter will begin in Carolina as the RailHawks begin their first full season under new owner Steve Malik at home against Minnesota United FC on April 2. The local entrepreneur, who purchased the RailHawks late last year, has worked with his staff to put together an exciting 2016 roster, which will face off against a Loons side that could feature as many as six 2015 NASL Best XI selections.

"We’re already counting down the days to our home opener against Minnesota,” RailHawks President and General Manager Curt Johnson said. “2016 will be a very important year for the RailHawks, as we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary. It’s particularly special that we’ll be doing it under the guidance of our new owner, Steve Malik, and I think our supporters will see a lot of positive change on and off the field as we look to build a world-class organization and bring our first NASL Championship to North Carolina."

Down in St. Petersburg, Fla., the Tampa Bay Rowdies will launch their 2016 campaign in front of their green-and-gold-clad fans against a new-look Indy Eleven side on April 2. Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell will trot out a roster with players like Tom Heinemann and Freddy Adu, while new Indy boss Tim Hankinson has wasted no time getting some experienced and talented players, like Lovel Palmer and Sinisa Ubiparipovic, on board for 2016.

As a trio of new clubs – Miami FC, Puerto Rico FC, and Rayo OKC - begin NASL play in 2016, two clubs will not participate. The Atlanta Silverbacks and San Antonio Scorpions will not compete in 2016.

“We’re tremendously excited about our three new clubs, and we’re impressed with what each of them has in the works for their inaugural season,” Peterson said. “With those clubs joining an already strong group of existing clubs, we expect this year to be extremely competitive. The last three years have come down to the final Fall Season weekend, proving that every match really does matter in the NASL.”

The league’s split-season competition, which led to an exciting postseason race down the stretch last year, will culminate with The Championship. As the league’s four-team postseason tournament, The Championship features both the Spring Season Champion and Fall Season Champion, as well as the two other teams with the best combined records from the Spring and Fall Seasons.

Last year, top-seeded New York (Spring Season Champion) prevailed over the No. 2 seed, Ottawa (Fall Season Champion), with a 3-2 win in The Championship Final. Minnesota and Fort Lauderdale also qualified for the postseason, earning the No. 3 and  No. 4 seeds respectively.

Jacksonville Armada FC has an opening weekend bye, but will kick off its season in New York on Saturday, April 9  

To view the 2016 NASL Schedule in its entirety, click here.  

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