I’ve decided to write about the North American Soccer League (NASL) again this year for Midfield Press. So my first article for them in 2016 is a brief look at one of the new expansion teams, RayoOKC.
An expansion team is always a delight. It is a creature sustained on speculation embracing ‘what ifs,’ ‘no ways,’ ‘could and couldn’t bes,’ ‘must haves,’ and ‘that’s its.’ There is nothing that a starved off-season or even pre-season supporter craves more. The promise, the expectation, and the possibility of fulfillment or failure invigorates everyone. It is new life; it is the status quo.
This is most certainly true of the North American Soccer League (NASL) this coming year. There will be at least three expansion teams debuting: Rayo Oklahoma City, Miami FC, and Puerto Rico FC. It is the first of these that I would like to consider here, RayoOKC.
Owned by an already established and well-loved Spanish club, Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, which has managed to stay in La Liga (Spain’s top flight of soccer dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid). Yet, it’s not as though Rayo has been a powerhouse or even a critics’ darling of a team. When I think of Rayo, I think of them as kind of being the Spanish equivalent of West Bromwich Albion for those of you familiar with the English Premier League. I’d attempt to make some US sports analog but there aren’t the same stakes in hand-egg, bounce, bat, or skate soccer. Point is, Rayo has carved a niche for itself as a middling-to-low team in one of the world’s most difficult and one-sided leagues.
So, of course, the ownership has decided to expand its brand a la Manchester City, whose owner has given us NYC FC in Major League Soccer as well as Melbourne City in Australia’s A-League. Rayo OKC exists now. There were vast grumblings about it. But over the January, the organization has shown that it’s not stupid and that it’s taking this enterprise seriously. At least, on the pitch, the only place that really matters to a supporter.
This article was made possible thanks to Rachel Racicot.