Search for Ottawa NASL coach underway New league commissioner to visit city in January

Ottawa’s North American Soccer League expansion franchise, slated to begin play here in 2014, has already begun taking shape.

A contest to name the club could begin soon after the league’s annual general meeting at Indianapolis in January, said Graeme Ivory, director of communications for the Ottawa Fury, whose owner and president, John Pugh, is a partner in NASL franchise owner Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.

As well, the search for a head coach is “kind of already in progress,” Ivory said.

“We will need somebody by the spring at the latest.”

Even if Ottawa’s NASL team doesn’t step on the pitch until 2014, pending completion of the Lansdowne Park stadium that will also be home to a new Canadian Football League franchise, the coach will be responsible for player recruitment. That could include scouting amateur and college leagues, attending tryout combines conducting individual and group workouts.

   
 

NASL rosters range from 20 to 35 players, with a maximum 30 on the active roster. A maximum of seven can be “non-domestic” players, which for Canadian teams refers to those who are neither Canadian citizens, permanent residents of this country or recognized as “domestic” players in the U.S.

There were eight teams in 2012, including FC Edmonton, which finished last in the standings at 5-10-13.

The New York Cosmos were announced as an expansion franchise for 2013.

Meanwhile, the league announced Tuesday that Bill Peterson would be taking over as NASL commissioner.

Peterson is chairman of the USA Cycling board of directors and was once president of NFL Europe, vice-president with AEG Sports and managing director of the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles as well as chief operating officer of the UFL.

He spent nine months in Manitoba as a consultant for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and said he was somewhat familiar with the Lansdowne Park redevelopment project.

He has also met the owners of Ottawa’s NASL franchise and is expected to visit the city in early January.

“We like the number of teams we have, but we would like to continue to grow in the markets we are (already) in a way that we can be a little bit more selective in our strategy for expansion,” Peterson said during a teleconference.

He said he had heard nothing that would make him think the Ottawa franchise would not be ready to start play in 2014.

Still in his first week on the job, Peterson also said his first, second and maybe third priorities would be promoting the two-year-old NASL in its current markets, then developing a broadcast strategy.

The first part of that strategy involves trying to arrange local cable telecasts that would also be available in visiting team markets. Step 2 would be starting a national game of the week.

Digital media is also on the to-do list, but Peterson said the NASL still had to improve production and distribution.

“It’s strategy, not plan yet,” Peterson said. “We have some homework to do on this yet.”

Source: Ottawa Citizen

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