At NASL Soccer Bowl 2013 on November 9, a crowd of 7,211 fans packed into Atlanta Silverbacks Park where capacity had been increased to meet the demand to watch the host Silverbacks take on the New York Cosmos.
The largest championship game attendance since the NASL returned in 2011 saw former Spain international Marcos Senna win the game for the Cosmos in the 50th minute of a thrilling match.
The North American Soccer League celebrated its third season of the modern era in 2013, adopting a new split season format under Commissioner Bill Peterson, who was appointed on November 27, 2012.
Under his tenure the NASL has mirrored the style of other professional soccer leagues around the world by retaining a single table structure that will also feature for the 2014 season when teams will observe a month long break to avoid a conflict with the FIFA World Cup.
The 2013 campaign featured eight teams across three time zones competing in separate Spring and Fall seasons, with the winner of each qualifying for NASL Soccer Bowl 2013. The fact that all teams remained in contention for both titles until 10 weeks of action had been played and the Atlanta Silverbacks were not crowned Spring champions until the final whistle blew on the July 4 last weekend of games underlined Commissioner Peterson’s statement that ‘every match matters’ within the split-season format.
On August 3, 2013, the NASL welcomed the iconic New York Cosmos to the new generation of the NASL family as the legendary Pele, now in the role of Honorary President, led the team back onto the field after an absence of almost three decades. By the penultimate game of the second half of the season, the Cosmos needed a win to secure the open berth at Soccer Bowl 2013 and duly beat the San Antonio Scorpions 2-1 to qualify.
2013 AWARD WINNERS
NASL Golden Ball – Georgi Hristov, Tampa Bay Rowdies
Hristov led the Rowdies in scoring with 12 goals and had eight assists as he won the media vote for the annual player of the year award.
NASL Golden Boot – Brian Shriver, Carolina RailHawks
Shriver fired 15 goals as the top scorer during the combined NASL Spring and Fall Seasons.
NASL Golden Glove – Kyle Reynish, New York Cosmos
Reynish started and played every minute in 13 of the 14 Cosmos games during the NASL Fall Season, posting a record of 8 wins, 4 draws and 1 loss, while earning five shutouts. Goalkeepers had to play a minimum of 10 games in 2013 to be eligible for the honor.
NASL Fair Play Award- Minnesota United FC
Awarded to the team with the best discipline record in the NASL regular season, based on fewest red and yellow cards.
Coach of the Year – Brian Haynes, Atlanta Silverbacks
In his first full season in charge, Haynes led the Silverbacks to the NASL Spring season title and with it the right to host NASL Soccer Bowl 2013.
Goal of the Season – Pedro Mendes, Atlanta Silverbacks
An unstoppable long-distance shot by Pedro Mendes of the Atlanta Silverbacks won the 2013 North American Soccer League Goal of the Season award selected by fans voting on NASL.com
NASL BEST XI