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U.S. Soccer Federation launches new second division

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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.


  1. Lazy ? No.

    Smart. Yes. The Sounders were drawing 5,000 of us in a league considered inferior, why would you boot them out of drawing 35,000, if they have a bad season ?

    Second divisions are maybe the single stupidest thing I can imagine. It works in Europe? no it doesn’t Man U wins 3/4 of their championships and a team isn’t paying its players.

  2. The great thing about MLS is it does NOT have to break in two. You can have as many teams as you want.

    Unlike the joke of European leagues, it can be supported, the hated conferences supply winners and they have exciting playoffs to determine who is best.

    Why would MLS WANT pro/reg ? Because Europe does it ? Those leagues are a mess. A money making, top teams always win, but the bottom teams don’t pay their players mess.

  3. That is a HUGE if.

    If anyone really thinks MLS will risk having LA or Seattle leave their league, they need their head examined. Not gonna happen.

    We should run it up the flagpole at USSF.

    One in 16 shot the Sounders start drawing 5,000 again, what do you think, should we go for it ?

  4. I would be interested to see how you think that would work ?

    My worse nightmare happens and the Sounders finish last. MLS relegates the Sounders next year and replaces them with ?

    Gulati actually said ” you never know” to the pro/reg question. He must have just having fun with those that think it could happen.

  5. Hey, parade on; I’ll turn off the clouds.

    The Islanders actually have a pretty nice stadium, I’d like to catch a game there some time.

  6. Agreed. Also, Chosun… you don’t happen to know any good soccer bars in Seoul do ya? Just throwing that out there.

  7. You know, it may be a small thing, but I liked your response. It was surprisingly devoid of inflated ego and you weren’t overly defensive. Bravo, sir…

  8. First off if you are asking for a 2nd NY team in either the MLS, or 2nd Division, well there is already one. I dont know if people know, but there is this big land mass above NYC called New York State. In New York State there is a city call Rochester who has a team called the Rhinos. I can tell you I would love to see Rochester go to the MLS, and then up state NY would have a 3rd pro team, and the 1st outside Buffalo.

    A question I would like to know is will this 2nd Division be run like the MLB? Where there will be a little difference between the two, like one having the DH spot and the other doesnt?

  9. How about a creative approach to maintain the relegation concept that exists across the globe, but to keep it within the American system. Have a goal of 3 conferences of 8-10 teams each.

    With 8 teams it could look like this

    Eastern – Montreal, NE, NY, Philly, DC, Atlanta, Miami, charlotte
    Central – Columbus, Chicago, KC, Toronto, Dallas, Houston, St Louis, Minnesota
    Western – Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Jose, LA, Chivas, RSL, Colorado

    The season would be divided in 2 like in mexico. The first half would only involve teams in your conference. The second half would involve restructuring the league based on the first half into 2 divisions. So the top 4 from each conference would go to the upper division. This involves some level of promotion and relegation but each year starts anew and no one is added or subtracted from MLS.

  10. gotta be honest i haven’t really checked in on the concacaf champions league all that much, I heard the MLS squads didn’t take it all that seriously (whether they don’t take it seriously or they just aren’t very successful I am unsure of) so i didn’t really pay it much thought. also to ask if i’m “new to soccer” because i don’t know of the marginal concacaf champions league success of the puerto rico islanders is a bit silly, c’mon now

  11. Yea totally agree, you think RB would spent 200 million on a stadium for a team that may spend a few seasons in division two with 2000 people in the stands? Same goes with other owners who will fork over big money for SSS in their cities.

    Relegation will do more harm than good in this country, it will just create more unstable franchises. Quite frankly I have never seen a good valid argument on how such a system will help soccer develop in this country. And please dont say it will “help” the competition, because it does not, it will simply cause a few clubs to have very short term goals every season.

  12. So how does the money get allocated? Are the USL clubs still required to drop some buy-in money to NuRock? Seems to me that the NASL clubs are getting pretty much what they wanted:

    1) An actual voice in the administration of the league (this new board of governors)
    2) No buy-in (any administrative costs not spent out of the funding pool will be returned to the clubs)

    But these seem like the same financial concerns that NuRock didn’t want to lose, right? When I look at this it seems that NuRock is getting dragged along for this season because otherwise their investment is lost in a puff of smoke.

  13. If he doesnt follow the Concacaf champions league, he must be new to soccer.

    The concacaf champs league is one of the most boring soccer competitions in the world.

  14. MLS owners aren’t building stadiums and using the DP with the thought of relegation as an option. The soccer culture in the US would have to radically change for relegation to work.

    On that note, 2nd division soccer will help the sport grow and it is great for cities like Rochester, which do/are not going to have first tier sports teams.

  15. It’s a pipe dream my friend. Sure that sounds good for teams that originally start in MLS2, but what about the Seattle’s, the Philly’s the TFC’s of the league that paid a pretty penny to get in here, how they gonna feel about the possibility of getting knocked down to MLS2?

    Face it man, these are not sport CLUBS. They are FRANCHISES. Unlike other leagues in the world, the teams and the leagues they play in are not independent of each other.

    We’re American. It’s just the way we do it. We have playoffs too. Do you not like those either?

    The only thing that has ever crossed my mind as feasible was something that appeared on a blog called Match Fit USA a while ago about a “minor league system” (similar to baseball).

  16. What are you talking about? Onyewu was the best defender in the belgium league and thats why he signed with AC Milan and now he is injured. Charlie Davies had no problems playing for Sochaux before he got in his crash. Damarcus Beasley is back in form for Rangers and at one time was the best player on a certain PSV Eindhoven. Altidore starts for Hull City most of the time and is only 19. As for Adu, he is 20….i dont care if its the next Messi we are talking about, you cant completely expect a under 21 player to be a star in Europe in modern day football, if you do, that is extremely premature and inexperienced of you. Eddie Johnson is the only one here that could really fit the title, “rejects”. Dont bring your negativity and lack of knowledge to a site like this cause you will just get slammed.

  17. Are you new to soccer? The Puerto Rico Islanders have enjoyed more success in the CONCACAF Champions League lately than even MLS teams.

  18. I’m with Andy on this… what’s wrong with teams in those places?

    Only real problem I see is geographic congestion outside of Puerto Rico. The other cities are quite close to existing teams, but if they can support them, why not?

  19. …the assumption, at least as I see it, would be that the franchise value of a lower division team would be lower.

    Think about it. MLS 2 charges 15m a team to get in. 1 Promotion place between 12 teams. $180m in the bank. A nice parachute payment to a team going down, and always the opportunity to go back up.

    There would be enough money coming into the league at the front end to appease the rich guys, and, anyways, most of them (most, not all) want success for their teams anyways. All it would do is shake up those who like to sit on their laurels like HSG and Kroeneke.

    Prom/Rel absolutely could work here. I think it’s nonsense to say otherwise. If teams can move (and sometimes even come back), they can most certainly be relegated and bounce back.

  20. yeah only way relegation system will happen is if the MLS gets so large it has to break into 2, because of the profit sharing thing. I don’t see that happening for a while.

  21. I think this is a fair solution at the moment.

    I would like to see the MLS board of directors hold off it’s expansion efforts for a while. Maybe when we have a Two or Three time winner of the second division, MLS can invite them to join MLS at such a time. Hopefully that team (STL United) could do the work of developing a winning culture, A loyal/fired up fanbase and some organizational stability to earn their “promoted status” to the MLS ranks.

    {Pats self on back}


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