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U.S. Soccer addresses decision not to sanction NASL or USL

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U.S. Soccer's decision to reject both the NASL and USL's applications to operate second division leagues this year came as a shocking development in the on-going battle between the two leagues, leading to some interesting but extremely far-fetched conspiracy theories about the decision. According to U.S. Soccer, the decision was made in order to help the situation, not to worsen it.

"U.S. Soccer's objective is to help the USL and NASL come to a resolution for the 2010 season and is committed to playing a role in discussions between the organizations," said U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe. "Throughout this entire process we've already had numerous discussions with both organizations, and future meetings have been set in the next few days.

"U.S. Soccer understands the importance of having a Division II league, but the most important aspect is figuring out a solution that can last for the foreseeable future," Buethe added. "That is exactly why the board decided not to sanction either league.

"There are still a number of aspects of each organization's application that are unanswered, and a decision of this magnitude is too important to make without the full assurance that either league is sustainable."

What is our take on the situation? It has been clear for some time now that neither league is in position to launch a viable league yet. The legal battle between the USL and NASL over the three teams that defected from USL to join the NASL threatens to negatively impact both leagues (a matter that is now headed for arbitration) and a resolution needs to be found between the leagues if either league is going to survive, or if the sides are going to have a chance to unite and form one strong league.

Sources tell SBI that U.S. Soccer's one-week deadline for the sides to come up with a solution was set in order to put the pressure squarely on the USL and NASL to come to the table and hammer out a deal or risk not operating in 2010. It's a bit of a gamble on the part of U.S. Soccer, but the federation is looking at the long term, and having the USL and NASL join forces and create a strong league rather than having them fight and form two unstable leagues, is clearly the best way to go. Not having second-division soccer in the United States in 2010 would be awful, but having two leagues launch, clash and fail would be much worse.

As for the conspiracy theories being floated about this decision? I'm not buying any of them, although they do make for great reading.

What do you think of the situation? Hoping the two leagues combine to form a Super League? Worried that there won't be any second division soccer in America in 2010?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’m a total supporter of promotion/relegation. Here’s why MLS should care – I don’t live in an MLS market and will NEVER give care about that league until I have a local team with a chance (however slim) of playing in it. Though prom/rel is a risk for some owners, it is potentially a HUGE BENEFIT to MLS as a whole. Think of a 20 team division II (and a 20 team division III) each in cities with fans. These fans become MLS fans if they are part of the league and have a chance at promotion.

    There are NO MLS FANS RIGHT NOW IN ROCHESTER, ST. LOUIS, ANYWHERE IN THE SOUTH, or any number of American cities. I’m a huge soccer fan and have only met ONE fan of an MLS team in my life (a KC Wizards fan). I’ve never lived in an MLS market. Most people in MLS markets don’t know their city has a team; almost nobody outside of an MLS market knows anything about the league.

    Sure, it also helps fight ‘bottom feeder’ syndrome – where lame franchises spend no money and put out poor quality teams but don’t care because they make money from profit sharing (think Arizona Cardinals or any number of NBA teams).

  2. what if a mls2 does come about and acts as a combination 2nd division and reserve league after vancouver, portland, and montreal come up? mls2 teams would still be independently owned, but mls clubs could loan fringe/developmental players to get playing time (like demoting a baseball player to triple-a). no pro/rel – run it as an independent league with playoffs, championships, etc. champion still gets a spot in ccl. this could also provide the opportunity for a city that mls is uncertain can support a team to show that it can in a less expensive environment – aka st louis. if they are successful, then try to do what sea, van, port, and mon are doing. doesn’t this solution solve multiple problems?

  3. Want to protect big market teams and the investment MLS owners have made while still having a promotion/relegation system? Let’s do an apertura/clasura.

  4. I’m still sticking to my original prediction… Freddy Adu will come down on a chariot of fire and unite the two sides under his magnificant guidance! Wow he can do it all can’t he? He will join the two sides creating the super premiere bundesadu liga championship. Juan Carlos osorio will be his right hand man in the endevor.

  5. If you have time can you go ahead and list the 60+ cities in Canada and the US that should have top level soccer teams. I am curious? Maybe there are 30 that would have a chance but 60+ seems a little outlandish of a claim. Not that Lincoln, Nebraska or Des Moines, Iowa aren’t great places to raise a family but getting 20k out to a soccer game after dropping a 100 Million bucks on a stadium might be asking a little much.

  6. Almost every league in Europe with rel/pro has the exact same teams that are competitive every year and they are the only ones that can spend any money. There is no real competition and many of the league games throughout the year are uncompetitive and extremely boring.

    Hull vs Manchester United = zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  7. 60+ markets??!!! BS. How is the NFL doing without pro/rel? How about MLB? Just because something is done in Europe doesn’t mean we have to do it here.

  8. BOOMER!! we have max bretos!! YESSSSSSS! just playing.. haha. here’s to beating new zealand in the finals of SA 2010!! happy new year! cant wait for the netherlands v usa tilt

  9. The biggest argument for Pro/Rel in the USA/Canada is that we have far more than 20 markets able to sustain a top division soccer team. By having Pro/Rel, all 60+ markets capable of sustaining a team (including some that can sustain more than one), can have a team in the league. The fans win by having a team stay in their city and not move at the whimsy of quirky owners and the owners ultimately win by being able to operate their team in an environment that fits within their own financial targets (i.e., if they don’t want to spend the big bucks, they can operate in the black in div 2 or div 3 and still have a team that is competitive against their division competition).

  10. Hey,

    somebody needs to defend promotion and relegation,

    it forces your management team to invest in the team,

    they can’t just wait out the year and try to do something next year, it gives them a sense of urgency,

    as for the financial constraints, you are right that

    in the short term it is a problem, but once the MLS gets to 20 teams and the new ones have a couple years to get over the initial cost, the only reason to oppose it is to maintain a monopoly,

    no new teams will be able to join the MLS

    without buying a team from a current owner,

    which is devastating to the fans of that current team,

    besides which the value of being an MLS team should belong to the league, not to the team owners,

    if the team owners don’t invest and maintain their

    teams, to the point of being competative, they

    should be relegated, and let the MLS get new cities and fans where the teams are investing and finding success,

    just my opinion

  11. I don’t understand why any fans in this country would buy into relegation/promotion. If your team is starting in the top division there really is no benefit to the system for a fan. What would be the benefit to any MLS fan to have the potential of their team potentially being relegated.

  12. I don’t care how long its been in other countries Promotion and relegation is stupid. Look what it causes it causes teams at the bottom who are their mostly because of financial constraint to spend to stay in the league, they just spend blindly and when it doesn’t work the good players leave and the fans are stuck in the lower division, its stupid, and don’t give me but it makes the bottom half of the table interesting, no it doesn’t we all can see the teams that can’t hold serve because the players just aren’t good enough. but the fact that teams can buy a player and bring them in instead of relying on their so called acadameies to provide players its a cycle that ultimately determines their demise, theres no pro/relegation in MLS but NYRB didn’t quit, they fought on for pride, they ended toronto’s chance of their first playoffs, And NYRB didn’t suffer financialy by taking on players that have no intention of staying past the present year. This very reason is why teams like portsmouth and leeds and whoever have the financial problems that they have now. Its impulse buying at its highest.

  13. Not for this coming year. Imagine going into an MLS owners meeting and telling them that despite their investment, hard work, etc., two of them would be in the minor leagues after the season. Real tough sell.

    A lot of things would have to happen before MLS would allow relegation and promotion.

  14. You’re not going to have relegation from MLS for a long long, long, long, long time, if ever. This has been hashed out many, many times due to financial consideration for MLS team owners. MLS ownership groups aren’t going to buy into MLS for a huge sum and then get relegated in their first year in the league.

    I’m definitely in favor of a single second division league. The biggest benefit I see comes in relation to fringe fans. Trying to grow soccer in the country, the less chance for confusion for fringe fans the better.

  15. Could this happen? the two combine make the division 2 then the bottem two in the MLS get regulated to the new league these two form? Just an idea.

  16. Us soccer using this decision the pigeon hole the MLSPU in case of a lockout players will not be able to play in any other sanctioned league in the states. basically another is MLS not wanting any competition.

  17. Why would they compete? None of the teams are playing in the same state so there isn’t any inner-state competition to worry about. If anything it would be an A/B situation where US soccer can find which way works best. One seeks to empower owners, the other wishes to keep it league focused. Let’s see which one works! They won’t be harming each other.

    MLS can’t afford to let both fail and not work. There are too many teams entering MLS next season and it would be a catastrophe for them to stop playing and A. lose their players B. lose their fans and C. lose momentum not withstanding the financial implications where starting the league over would be nearly impossible!

  18. Ives, the lawsuit has already been dismissed.

    (SBI-The leagues agreed to have the lawsuit dismissed so that the matter could head for arbitration. The leagues are still clearly locked in a battle.)


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