Remember the movie The Omen? That evil kid whose presence is enough to cause catastrophe and disaster.
Well the NASL split season trophies might well be nicknamed Damien and Thorn based on the curse that a growing group of pessimists seem to think hangs over them.
Are they cursed? You decide.
The NASL considered moving heaven and earth to make sure the NASL Spring Season title trophy could be in Cary, North Carolina, for the RailHawks home game against the Atlanta Silverbacks when Colin Clarke’s team had a chance to win the first half of the season and with it the right to host NASL Soccer Bowl 2013.
That was in Spring Season week 13 in late June and because the trophy had been crafted in London and was suddenly in demand, a plan was hatched for a willing volunteer to take the trophy as hand luggage from Heathrow airport to Raleigh-Durham to ensure its delivery in time for the big game and the potential presentation. As it tuned out, one of those well-known delivery companies was able to get the silverware to its destination on time and plans were put in place to present to the Spring Season champions elect – the RailHawks.
NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson was on hand to make the presentation to the winning captain in true soccer style, rather than to the owner or GM as other American sports do for some reason. The trophy arrived and at that moment, as it sat in the RailHawks office, its apparent bad omen and the fear of superstition started to put doubts into people’s minds.
RailHawks President Curt Johnson watched as the trophy was removed from its packaging and placed in his office to be photographed, but backed away rather than touch the Spring Season trophy. Just as NHL teams heading to the Stanley Cup finals won’t touch their respective conference championship trophies, Curt was not about to go near this silver plate – especially because his team had not yet secured its right to sit in the team trophy cabinet.
And so began the curse…
Curt had seen his reflection in the trophy and 90 minutes later the RailHawks had only managed to draw with Atlanta and had to go to San Antonio to beat the Scorpions to finish on top of the standings they had dominated for much of the campaign. The ‘champions’ t-shirts that had also been sitting on the sidelines in Carolina, waiting to be handed to the celebrating squad, were split in two with half the consignment going north to Minnesota where the Silverbacks were to play and the other half to San Antonio – along with the RailHawks and the trophy.
Of course, in San Antonio, the RailHawks faltered, slipping to a 2-0 defeat as the legend of the trophy curse grew. The Silverbacks won 3-0 and clinched the Soccer Bowl hosting rights up in Minnesota – many miles from the power of the trophy - and the RailHawks were left to wonder what might have been.
Some months later, the evil cousin of the Spring Season title trophy was born and weaved its way to New York, where the Cosmos needed a win against seventh placed FC Edmonton for the right to parade the silverware in front of their fans at Hofstra University.
‘Don’t let anyone from the team see the trophy’ came the text from Commissioner to PR Director, but it was too late. The home broadcaster One World Sports had filmed the trophy the Cosmos were playing for a few hours before kickoff and the Cosmos Girls had been pictured with the shiny silver plate. The trophy – and the curse – was out of the black cloth bag.
The trophy sat unnoticed in an anonymous room in the press box and some claim it glowed as substitute Alessandro Noselli struck the go-ahead goal that could lead to a presentation and celebration in New York. The trophy and accompanying t-shirts were smuggled inconspicuously from press box to pitch side and the Commissioner and his PR team sat patiently waiting to make the presentation.
But the trophy on the sideline is to NASL teams what kryptonite is to Superman. If you believe in these kind things, its proximity to the Cosmos defense caused them to hesitate for a moment and led to FC Edmonton producing a last minute equalizer to again ensure there would not be a trophy presentation.
Its curse ongoing, the trophy was swiftly smuggled away from Hofstra University and was last seen boarding a train at Mineola Station to be taken far away from where its curse could influence the outcome of a game.
So the Fall Season silverware will not be at Toyota Field should the Cosmos clinch this Saturday. Neither will it be in Atlanta nor Tampa Bay should the season go down to the wire and the final day of the season – unless the Rowdies dismiss the curse and request its presence at Al Lang Stadium on November 2.
For now, the Spring Season title trophy sits in the Atlanta Silverbacks office, a reminder that it refused to choose a permanent home until the final few minutes of the first half of the 2013 campaign.
The Fall Season silverware… well its whereabouts is a closely guarded secret…
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|New York Cosmos||14||9||4||1||10||31|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||5||5||4||3||20|
|Minnesota United FC||14||6||2||6||2||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
|San Antonio Scorpions||14||3||1||10||-9||10|
|San Antonio Scorpions||12||6||2||4||4||20|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|