The NISA Megamix

In the dark, shadowy corners of public Twitter, information about NISA’s operations has been leaking into public knowledge, as football-starved supporters desperately look for any information to get through the offseason. We’ll pull out some of the juiciest bits here and talk about some of the implications for what City might see in 2020 and beyond as a result.

Ownership and Governance

60% of the league is cumulatively owned by member clubs, each of whom appoints a governor to sit on the board. The league president acts as a commissioner, who reports to the board. Presumably this is meant to be a structure where new clubs are brought up to an equal part of this 60% ownership and departing clubs forfeit their shares, but this isn’t explicitly spelled out anywhere.

The remaining 40% of the league is owned by the investors who provided the capital to start the league. The initial false starts with trying to get the league started previously might have provided a drain on this funding. Either way, NISA’s ability to sell shares in the league to get more investment and upgrade league operations is limited if the member clubs want to maintain control of the league.

NISA also reminds us that a $250K performance bond must be posted by every club every season, according to the Division 3 standard of the Professional League Standards (PLS). The idea behind this is to act as a failsafe so that if an ownership group suddenly runs out of money, the league can continue to operate the team to preserve the integrity of the competition. This isn’t necessarily enough to cover a team’s full expenses so much as defray the cost to everyone else. An additional complicating factor is IP ownership- the performance bond fallback is fine for franchised leagues that take control of crests and other club marks, running the team as if nothing happened. In the case of teams like the Philly Fury, the original ownership group still owns their name and logo and the league would have to perform an immediate de-branding or re-branding to continue. The price of freedom is the increased risk of instability.

Rosters

A NISA roster must meet the following requirements:

  • 20-35 players on the master roster
  • 7 slots for non-domestic players
  • Up to 6 amateurs under 21; amateurs must be registered within the club’s system, including the academy or directly to the first team
  • 4 MLS and/or loan players (both terms are used, but I believe they’re the same slots)
  • MLS/loan players only qualify for postseason if they played at least 3 regular season games

Lots to unpack here! Let’s start from my least favorite part: the limited number of non-domestic slots. A “domestic player” for NISA’s purposes is a US Citizen, green card holder, refugee, or asylum seeker. So it’s possible for the club to assist players with their immigration paperwork and free up additional non-domestic slots in the process- which is a nice incentive for taking care of your own. These slots are also transferable, so a club with cash to burn could choose to buy or trade for them from a club that has no need or desire for some of theirs.

I’m not a fan of limiting slots like this on either moral or competitive grounds. I understand that the thought process is to require clubs to give playing time to American players, give them more growth opportunities, and so on. But we’ve always run a squad with plenty of internationals, men who played their heart out for the rouge and gold and are every bit as deserving of your love as our Americans. It’s one of the great things about the club’s culture. It hasn’t crowded out the ability of US players to compete with us, but enriched the competitive and cultural environment for them to be in.

There are a number of City players who have signed multi-year deals with the club, some of whom are working through these issues right now, which likely plays a role in some of the player announcements that we haven’t seen yet. With all that said- this might be a requirement from USSF as part of the PLS, since it seems to match up with MLS’s requirement as well. It’s common from other leagues and other federations- but we should be better.

Moving on- the amateur slots are a nice touch. These are meant to be contracts that will not interfere with NCAA eligibility, the endless boogeyman of attracting young talent. As part of that, this is a great part of a pathway for academy players to reach playing and training time with the first team without having to immediately discard their scholarships. I’m a big fan.

The MLS/loan player slots explicitly call out international players as being part of an option. The postseason restriction should reduce the risk of clubs trying to stack themselves at the last minute in theory. In reality I don’t think that’s a huge risk: the NISA playoffs that count are in the spring, well ahead of when MLS teams would start getting eliminated from playoffs and choose to send their players down for more time.

One thing that is not mentioned: a salary cap. I don’t think anyone in NISA would really want one to begin with, but with the Cosmos arriving in the Fall we’ll get to experience firsthand how much Rocco really cares about his US investments versus Fiorentina. Fiorentina doesn’t appear to have a reserve team, but instead loans out large number of players throughout Europe. It would be interesting to keep an eye on the number of international slots the Cosmos leave open, as a few quick loans could lead to a Cosmos team that has power beyond the payroll that’s charged against their own books.

Game-day: substitutions, half-time

Neither of these really demand a full section, so I threw them together. NISA allows 5 substitutions, which is FIFA standard for lower leagues but down from NPSL and NCAA. Many lower leagues such as USL choose to use the standard of 3 for the top-flight, but NISA has chosen to take advantage of the rule. (Thanks to Sean Grogan for pointing this out!) Long-term I think dropping down to 3 would be nice, but trying to bootstrap a combo of entirely new clubs with clubs that existed in a slightly more relaxed environment could mean challenges finding enough fit players. The expansion to 5 is especially useful in the context of the amateur slots- you could give playing time to several players in your system in the same game while still keeping a typical number of substitutions for the rest of the squad.

Half-time is down to 15 minutes now. Less time to rest, less time for a beer run. Personally, I try not to keep drinking into the evening at games, but I can imagine the lines for people who want a drink and a snack are going to be hell.

Spring Playoffs 2020

The current format probably won’t ever be repeated with the weirdness of the fall showcase. In the fall, there were two playoff game winners, who become the #1 and #2 seeds for the final spring playoffs. The playoff winner with the higher regular-season standing becomes the #1 seed, with the other winner becoming #2. The spring regular season is used to seed #3 and #4.

The semi-finals are a single-elimination game. Getting to host is the fall winner’s reward for actually playing with NISA the whole time instead of trying to go through NPSL Pro. I’m not thrilled about this being written in stone already given the travel distances, but the split-format has to choose seeds somehow, I guess.

The final match is a home-and-home series, with the higher seed hosting first, followed by the lower seed. This has been seen in other competitions like the Copa Libertadores until recently. I think giving each side’s supporters equal time at their home stadium is great, and it also negates home field advantage from becoming a deciding factor. It’s definitely going to be a new experience for American sports fans, and I expect a lot of controversy over how it should just boil down to the one game- but it’s no weirder to me than when the Members Cup settled things with a single table.

In the future, I’d like to see the fall regular season be what determines the entrants for the spring playoffs. Take the top 2 from each contest, use PPG from each contest to determine seeds, go down the line if you have any duplicates. At the very least, please don’t subject me to years of playoffs whose main purpose is to participate in a different set of playoffs months later.

The Smoke Ban

Smoke is banned by the letter of the law, just like DCFC’s published stadium policy bans cursing at people by the letter of the law. Nothing will ever come of it, but at least we got memes.

Broadcast Standards

NISA requires every stadium to be broadcast-ready, with stricter requirements for “Linear” (presumably just a catch-all for “TV”) than for regular streaming. (Go on, make your MyCujoo joke.) Streaming mandates 2 cameras: a midfield game camera for the wide-shot, and either a tight follow for close-ups or a handheld. For linear, all 3 of those angles are required as well as 2 off-sides angles.

A major complaint in 2019 from distant City fans was the downgrade in production quality, in addition to the MyCujoo debacle. The widely-held assumption was that the budget to go pro meant sacrifices had to be made elsewhere, but that was little comfort for those who could only get their fix by streaming. With the MyTV20 deal, City should fall into the linear category and we should hopefully see a return to pre-2020 production standards. Rumors state that streams will still continue for distant fans, but there has been no official announcement of this. If true, hopefully this would include YouTube.

The other interesting requirement is for two redundant 40mbps Internet connections, which can include satellite. If one fails, the stream must automatically switch to the other. This is good! My only concern is that “40mbps” does not specify that it’s about upload. But surely nobody would get a download speed at that rate and fail to provide proper upload, right?

And the rest…

The full document that this was all pulled from is considerably longer. If you’ve ever wanted to know how many bananas have to be bought for the opposing team on matchdays, or what exactly the fine is for accumulating too many yellow cards in the same match that you get sent off for a straight red, it’s all in there. This blog post is long enough as it is, but there’s plenty of potential content for a Megamix B-Sides for the thoroughly bored supporter.

Ep. 6 #CityRadio Detroit City FC Podcast

 

The “Voice of Le Rouge” Neal Ruhl sits down with Nathan Steinwascher and Danny Deakin to discuss Members Cup play and also their path to DCFC! Both players share their stories in the professional ranks and the roads they have taken! Brought to you by REALTEAM Real Estate and Range Lending, the official Real Estate providers of Detroit City FC! www.mirealteam.com/dcfc Source

Ep. 5 #CityRadio Podcast

DCFC Chief Executive Officer/Co-Owner Sean Mann sits down with the play-by-play Voice of Detroit City FC Neal Ruhl at the City Clubhouse to discuss the big announcement of Detroit City adding a women’s team for next season! #CityRadio is brought to you by Real Team Real Estate and Range Lending! The Official Real Estate Providers for Detroit City FC! www.mirealteam.com/dcfc Source

S2:E3 — Bustin’ Shots

In this episodes catches us up on the Milwaukee, Cosmos, and Napa Valley matches along with some other major club announcements. Red builds a bonfire with a club owner. Takes us to Meet Detroit in the form of Ceasefire Michigan. Investigative Reporter Ron goes up in smoke with Brian Anderson. Source

Remember the Members: A Cupdate

As is often the case in late summer, DCFC has been focused on friendlies. Atlas’ visit was nothing short of historic, and while I’d like to say the same about the Philadelphia Fury it seems possible to me that even if NISA is a wild success maybe the Fury are less historic and more history.

But alas, DCFC is in the middle of a league. And while Le Rouge was hosting its friendlies, that league was still very much happening. You may recall that when we last saw our heroes play a competitive match, they were at the top of the Member’s Cup table very early in the season. After two weeks off, DCFC has somehow only fallen to 2nd, despite having played 3 fewer matches than 3rd-place Chattanooga. How did we get here? Let’s have a Cupdate.

1. New York Cosmos- 10 points, 4 matches played, 2.5 points per match, 3-0-1

Going into the Member’s Cup, I think you could have made a pretty reasonable prediction that it would come down to either City or the Cosmos, and based on current results that appears to be the case. The Cosmos started the Member’s Cup with a narrow 1-0 road win against Chattanooga FC. An away win in Chattanooga is nothing to sneeze at, but the cracks started appearing in the next match, a 2-2 home draw against Milwaukee, who was not projected to be in the competitions’ top half. Granted, that match was a little flukey. It was 2-0 NYC at 88’ when Milwaukee got the ball past a keeper that was playing way out, and scored the second four minutes later off of some confusion in the box. A 2-0 road win @ Stars is solid, and I would actually argue that more worrying than the Milwaukee loss is their performance in a win. Going into the match, Napa’s GD was -12, good for 4 goals against per match. The Cosmos scored 1 at home. One mitigating factor worth mentioning is that the Cosmos went down to 10 immediately after the goal, but not scoring at all in the first half is inconsistent with the results other teams have earned against Napa.

2. Detroit City FC- 6 pts, 2 MP, 3 PPM, 2-0-0

You may recall that DCFC beat Chattanooga 2-1 and then Napa 4-0. They remain perfect, and somehow have 8 full matches left in this competition.

3. Chattanooga FC, 5pts, 5 MP, 1 PPM, 1-2-2

Hoo boy. Chattanooga is clinging to third. Sure, third might be the natural place you would have expected Chattanooga to end up, but at this pace they are very much in danger of ending up a bottom-half team. Opening the competition with (discussed above) matches against NYC and DCFC is brutal, harder than any other club’s opening pair. But a home draw against Stars is a poor result. They did the thing everyone has done and thrashed Napa, but that just might not be enough to save their season. If they had gotten say, four points in their opening three matches a draw at Milwaukee probably would have been enough, but halfway through the competition it might have made them the first team out of the “Big Three” that almost certainly won’t touch the championship.

4. Milwaukee Torrent, 5pts, 3 MP, 1.67 PPM, 1-0-2

Listen, I get the risks in calling a team “the surprise of the tournament,” based on two draws, but when those draws are against Chattanooga and New York, Milwaukee is a strong candidate. I think tomorrow’s match in Milwaukee is a real chance for City to get its first non-win. Milwaukee may not have what it takes to win the competition, but they’ve held two of the Cup’s presumed powers to single points and have only given up three goals in three matches, with a clean sheet against Napa (like everyone else). If Milwaukee can get any sort of result off of City tomorrow, they’ll put themselves in great position to be worth watching out for during the rest of the Members Cup.

5. Michigan Stars FC, 1 pt, 2 MP, .5 PPM, 0-1-1

Stars held Chattanooga to a tie, and lost to New York at home. Technically, they have enough time to make up for it, but ultimately I think the most likely outcome is just barely edging Napa for fifth.

6. Napa Valley 1839 FC, 0 pts, 4 MP, 0 PPM, 0-4-0

Napa has four losses and a -13 goal differential. They have yet to score a single goal in the competition. In case you were wondering, Napa went 3-6-2 in regular season NPSL play, earning 11 points in 11 matches. Not great for the team that travels the most.

The big observation I have here is this: These standings meet the eye test. NYC and DCFC are on top, with Chattanooga, Milwaukee, Stars, and Napa following in that order. I think most NPSL observers would have predicted standings that look pretty close to this. The catch is that Chattanooga is in grave danger of ending the competition in fourth.

Another observation is that the table is going to be very confusing as long as everyone’s played uneven matches. Here is a table showing the remaining schedule for the top 4 teams, as well as how many matches ahead or behind DCFC each team will be once the listed match day is complete:

(In case you were wondering, the “long” break Chatta takes involves two weekdays, both of the Saturdays they have off they play NISA friendlies v. Stumptown Athletic. DCFC plays @ Philly on the 26th. The Cosmos do not appear to have anything scheduled for the 26th).

City’s schedule is packed from here on out. Everyone plays every Saturday, and City adds those two weeknight matches. I imagine we’ll see a lot of squad rotation for those weeknights, and we should thank our lucky… you know that they’re against a fairly weak team a short drive away.

Circle These Matches

DCFC @ Milwaukee Torrent, Saturday September 14th

DCFC can’t take the lead back from NYC, but can keep on pace to overtake them once they’re level on games. Milwaukee looks to prove this isn’t a fluke and deserves a seat at the big kids table.

New York Cosmos @ DCFC, Saturday September 21st

Once the Cosmos play this match, they’ll only have four to go, where City will still have six. A DCFC win likely means they have a commanding lead in points-per-match, and would give City enough breathing room that a loss in the New York leg wouldn’t be devastating. A New York win would set up a crucial away match for City in October.

Chattanooga FC @ New York Cosmos, Saturday September 28th

DCFC @ Chattanooga FC, Saturday October 5th

These will be matches 8 and 9 for Chattanooga. If Chatta even wants to challenge for second, they likely need 6 points. If they get those 6 as part of a more general late-season unbeaten streak, maybe they can keep their championship dreams on life support.

Detroit City FC @ New York Cosmos, Saturday October 12

The return trip. Whoever wins the first match, it is likely that at this second match someone has the opportunity to virtually clinch, if not literally clinch, the Championship.

Milwaukee Torrent @ Detroit City FC, New York Cosmos @ Napa Valley 1839 FC, Saturday October 19th

The last match for each of our main competitors, with the Torrent thrown in for good measure. While these aren’t actually the last matches of the Member’s Cup, chances are a Champion is crowned on this night, with the rest of the positions being close to solidified.

Milwaukee Torrent @ Chattanooga FC, Saturday October 26th

Only time will tell if this is a meaningless match on the last night of the season or if its a battle where the winner overtakes DCFC or New York and clinches second place.

Michigan Stars FC @ Napa Valley 1839 FC, Saturday October 26th

Unless Napa has already clinched, there is a very real chance that the winner of this last chance of the Member’s Cup avoids last place with the win.

Goal Breakdown: Atlas FC 9-7-19

My wife and I work at a local farm helping out with weddings and unfortunately we had agreed to work a wedding the day of the Atlas match. Twatching one of the biggest wins in City history while also dealing with a bunch of drunk people was definitely not how I wanted to spend my Saturday. What this means however is that I got to do a full watch of the match at my computer and take a lot more detailed notes. I really hope that you are ready for a wall of text and videos and let me know if you prefer the short posts or these more detailed ones.

The TL;DR version. City held their own against a really good team through good individual and team play and were able to take advantage of chances that they created.

Continue reading “Goal Breakdown: Atlas FC 9-7-19”