A rising tide, the saying goes, lifts all boats. And in this case, it helps keep a few afloat.
That's the good news out of NASL and, specifically, Minnesota on Friday afternoon. The club and league announced that a local ownership group has been found, meaning the Stars — who have made it to the past two NASL title games, and won it in 2011 — will be back for 2013.
“We cannot overstate how delighted we are at this outcome,” said NASL Commissioner David Downs in a press release. “The team has represented Minnesota in NASL play in extraordinary fashion over the past two years despite the lack of local owners, and now we believe this will give the Stars the foundation needed to flourish for years to come. As of today, we now have local owners for the team who are clearly committed and dedicated to promoting soccer as an integral part of the community.”
Minnesota had been a league-run team for the past two years, and the ownership search had reportedly become an existential one in recent months.
The fact that it's been resolved in this fashion is good news for fans of the Stars, first and foremost. But from a broader perspective, it's good news for anyone in North America who's a fan of the game. A stable and healthy second division means more opportunities for meaningful soccer all over the map, and more opportunities for youth development in a metropolitan area that's produced a fair number of pros.
Win-win. Today's a good day for soccer.
It's been the year of the center forward in MLS, and that's trickled down to the North American second flight as well.
The NASL on Tuesday announced its Best XI for the 2012 season, and at its head was Golden Boot winner Pablo Campos. The big Brazilian No. 9 had a career year, knocking home 20 goals in leading expansion side San Antonio Scorpions to the best regular-season record and No. 1 playoff seed.
Campos, who turns 29 this week, had four goals in 41 appearances with RSL and San Jose in 2009 and 2010.
Other former MLS players featured in the Best XI were winger Nick Zimmerman, who had stints with both Philadelphia and New York; and central defender Ryan Cochrane, who spent eight years in MLS and won two MLS Cups with Houston.
Here is the complete Best XI list:
Forwards: Mark Anderson (Ft. Lauderdale Strikers), Pablo Campos (San Antonio Scorpions)
Midfielders: Luke Mulholland (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Walter Ramírez (San Antonio Scorpions), Walter Restrepo (Ft. Lauderdale Strikers), Nick Zimmerman (Carolina RailHawks)
Defenders: Kyle Altman (Minnesota Stars FC), Ryan Cochrane (San Antonio Scorpions), Paul Hamilton (FC Edmonton), Takuya Yamada (Tampa Bay Rowdies)
Goalkeeper: Jeff Attinella (Tampa Bay Rowdies)