The Alliance of American Soccer made its debut this weekend, and the early returns are good.
Now, the important thing might be constructing off that success incrementally every week so the fledgling league, aiming to fill the NFL void in soccer followers’ hearts, can capitalize on the newfound consideration. The primary weekend supplied one thing for a football-deprived America one week after Tremendous Bowl 53.
Like protection? The San Antonio Commanders had six sacks and three interceptions in a 15-6 victory against the San Diego Fleet on Saturday. The Birmingham Iron adopted up with a 26-Zero victory towards the Memphis Categorical on Sunday.
Like offense? Steve Spurrier, at 73 years previous, introduced fun-n-gun again to the Orlando Apollos’ 40-6 victory over the Atlanta Legends on Saturday.
Like shootouts? The Arizona Hotshots beat the Salt Lake Stallions 38-22 in a recreation during which John Wolford threw for 275 yards and 4 touchdowns.
That stated, there’s nonetheless room for enchancment because the league will get off the bottom. Here’s what we appreciated — and what would require extra growth — one week into the AAF.
What we appreciated
Huge hits and no flags
The AAF obtained its signature hit when San Antonio linebacker Shaan Washington knocked San Diego quarterback Mike Bercovici’s helmet off with a sack — which was not penalized.
Shaan Washington can BRING IT. pic.twitter.com/7VqYNk3DwD
— CBS Sports activities (@CBSSports) February 10, 2019
Orlando’s Earl Okine leveled Atlanta’s Matt Simms on Saturday, too.
— Champion Sports activities Productions (@ChampSportsProd) February 10, 2019
The hits had been clear, and play resumed with none controversy. Go determine.
Nice tempo of play
A operating clock and no TV timeouts permit for higher recreation move. The in-game business display was much less distracting, and also you had been out in lower than three hours. As for viewer expertise, you aren’t wanting in your cellphone as a lot between performs or throughout these lengthy business breaks and the sport retains your consideration. It is efficient up to now.
What’s a catch? No person actually is aware of, however the AAF took you inside the replay sales space with official Terri Valenti for full transparency as she processed the evaluation and made her name. You heard each phrase as she modified her thoughts from incomplete go to a landing for Orlando’s Jalin Marshall.
The AAF is every part the NFL is not…The advertising Genius!
— Josh Lemoine (@LsuFBallTruth) February 10, 2019
You’ll be able to disagree with the decision in order for you (there was an analogous name within the Birmingham-Memphis recreation that seemed like an incompletion). However you possibly can not less than see the method for the way the decision was made.
Given the fallout from the blown name within the Saints-Rams NFC championship recreation, that is implausible advertising by the AAF. It is one other promo that writes itself.
The AAF … a league you possibly can belief.
A debut to construct on
Watchable. That was the time period thrown round on social media fairly a bit, and the primary weekend needed to be thought of a pleasing shock. If this league continues with the understanding it’s extra of a minor-league complement to the NFL as an alternative of a direct competitor, then there might be success in the long run.
It must proceed capitalizing on these school connections, which work properly with the Alabama and Auburn gamers in Birmingham. That would work down the road within the Rust Belt in locations comparable to Columbus, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Iowa Metropolis.
Up to now, the AAF is much less sensational than the unique XFL, extra sensible than Area Soccer or the CFL and simpler to connect with for the informal soccer viewer. It surpassed expectations in Week 1.
Watchable. That was the time period used to explain the primary week.
— Ditching the additional level and utilizing going for 2 factors after each landing is wonderful.
— AAF groups put on Starter uniforms. That’s a throwback model that works.
— Seeing Spurrier grasp 40 factors on an opponent won’t ever get previous.
What wants work
The AAF permits solely 5 gamers to hurry on go performs, and so they can solely rush from the deal with field. Meaning no cornerback blitzes off the sting. That rule is complicated the primary time a viewer sees it, and it limits what defenses can do within the purple zone. It is a rule that’s going to get picked at because the season goes on. Viewers will be taught the it will definitely, however that is the sort of rule that may get flip bitter on social media.
Trent Richardson scored his first skilled TD since 2014, and he was flagged as a result of the ball went into the stands when he spiked the soccer. Given the profession path the previous first-round decide has taken to get again to Birmingham, he ought to have spiked the ball more durable.
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) February 10, 2019
That’s a kind of guidelines the AAF ought to take much less significantly.
The gamers concerned can be many of the names and faces seen within the third and fourth quarters of NFL exhibition video games. The play on the sphere will resemble that at instances, and the most-glaring spot will all the time be quarterback. Apart from Wolford, there weren’t huge numbers on the place. A missed throw right here. A dropped ball there. That’s going to occur early within the season.
How do you fight that? You will have groups and gamers in all-effort video games as a result of they’re making an attempt to impress NFL scouts. This seems to be like minor-league soccer — however off the bounce, it is extra thrilling than watching minor-league baseball.
Attendance and TV rankings
Now it is about maintaining that curiosity. The attendance numbers for the primary weekend in San Antonio (27,857), Orlando (20,191), Birmingham (17,039) and Arizona (15,000) had been encouraging, and the brand new league went head-to-head with the NBA in prime time on TV Saturday. It completed with a barely decrease ranking than the Duke-Virginia males’s basketball showdown.
Good begin for the AAF on CBS final night time.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) February 10, 2019
That’s an unbelievable begin, but it surely additionally was the primary week. Can the AAF proceed to maintain that momentum outdoors of the sport markets?