The 2016 North American Soccer league season gets underway on Saturday, with four matches scheduled for opening day. New York Cosmos fans will have to wait for Sunday evening to watch the defending champions take on Ottawa Fury FC in a rematch of last season's championship game, but most will still tune in on Saturday to take a peek at this season's competition.
With the league now having multiple networks airing matches, here's how to catch each of Saturday's contests, along with a prediction which will likely prove to be wildly inaccurate when all is said and done.
Carolina RailHawks vs. Minnesota United
Time: 3:00 pm Eastern
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, North Carolina
How to watch: ESPN3
On paper, the first match of the season might be the most even affair of opening weekend. Minnesota look to have a far superior squad, but the attack hasn't looked fluid yet during the preseason, and they'll be playing away from home.
Carolina, on the other hand, are a very similar group to the one that we've seen for the past several years, so chemistry shouldn't be much of an issue. Because of the chemistry and the home field, I think the RailHawks manage a 1-1 draw against the MLS-bound side.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Miami FC
Time: 7:00 pm Eastern
Venue: Lockhart Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
How to watch: beIn Sports
Miami FC's inaugural match will be away from home, against their local rivals, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. That's probably not the ideal way for a club playing their first competitive match to kick off, and should give us a good look at how Alessandro Nesta will approach tough fixtures.
While I like the squad Nesta has put together, it's hard not to think that the Strikers, with loads of attacking talent, will beat an expansion side at home. My pick? A 3-1 victory for Fort Lauderdale.
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Indy Eleven
Time: 7:30 pm Eastern
Venue: Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Florida
How to watch: ONE World Sports
The Rowdies were a good team last year, that looks to have improved significantly over the winter. Indy Eleven were not very good last season, and while they've made improvements to their midfield and have an upgrade in goal, I can't see them taking anything away from Saturday's trip to St. Pete. I'm going with a 2-0 victory for the home side.
Rayo OKC vs. FC Edmonton
Time: 8:00 pm Eastern
Venue: Miller Stadium, Yukon, Oklahoma
How to watch: ESPN3
The NASL schedule makers were far kinder to Rayo OKC than they were to Miami FC. Rayo get to open at home, against a side that did little to improve and watched their best player depart over the winter. While I'm not sure that Rayo will look all that good in their opener, the energy from the home crowd and the absence of Lance Laing make me think they'll pull out an opening night victory anyway. My best guess? Rayo winning 1-0, but that's the pick of the four that I'm the least comfortable with.