by TRAVIS CLARK
Second division soccer in the United States isn't dead after all. One week after the U.S. Soccer Federation denied the applications for both the USL and NASL, a new league has been created for the 2010 season.
The league will be divided into two conferences consisting of six teams each. Both USL and NASL names have carried over in the form of conferences.
As far as the schedule go, it is expected to run between 28-32 games along a similar time frame to an MLS schedule, with a playoff system to determine a champion. While the schedule won't be released for another few weeks, a substantial break is not expected during the World Cup.
With the USL/NASL dispute threatening to undermine second division soccer, USSF engineered compromise between the two sides, and will play an active role in the 2010 season. They will be running an executive committee to help to facilitate any problems that might arise during the season. Naming rights may be sold off as well, though for now the new league will be known simply as USSF Division 2.
"The federation will take a much more direct role than it does in other professional leagues in the United States for this year-long arrangement," USSF President Sunil Gulati said during a conference call.
Along with the normal league operations (scheduling, referees), USSF will run the aforementioned executive committee, as well as a board of directors with representatives from each of the 12 teams.
Emphasis was placed on this being a short term solution to a problem that would allow for second division soccer to happen in 2010. After that, a lot of changes will likely take place, with Vancouver and Portland scheduled to leave for MLS in 2011, and the possibility of Atlanta and New York having new teams next year.
Working out a number of the issues that divided the two sides in just eight days was a tough task, but one that was solved in that short window with all legal disputes put to rest.
"We've managed to reach an agreement that will effectively end the dispute that existed between the USL and certain member teams," Gulati said. "There won't be any litigation out of any events that have taken place, and we're certainly very pleased about that both from a going forward point of view and from an economic point of view."
Creating a stable environment over the long term was emphasized by Gulati, with a desire to remove the USSF's involvement after this season. As a result, changes to lower division standards will likely occur, though no specific details were mentioned.
"In the next few months we'll be laying out some regulations, rules and standards that will put a little bit more substance into our current standards about what a second or third division should look like," said Gulati.
Here's what the new second division looks like:
USL: Austin, Minnesota, Portland, Puerto Rico, Rochester, Tampa Bay
NASL: Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Montreal, St. Louis, Vancouver
What do you think about the new league? Glad to see it worked out and second division soccer is alive?
Share your thoughts below.