Top Stories

U.S. Soccer Federation launches new second division

Us soccer


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. Could MLS some how work out an agreement to have their younger players (bench players), play in the 2nd division for experience. Perhaps loan them out?

  2. Probably no one. It isn’t as though it really matters to MLS anyway. Red Bull were Western Conference winners, and RSL Eastern conference winners.

  3. I’m pretty dubious on New York ever existing at all. That team didn’t ever show much sign of life, even before things went pear shaped.

  4. I Agree with this set up for “Div 2”
    East, South East, West and Pacific conferences. Could save tons of money in travel and develop stronger regional rivalries.

    I would love to see a set up like this in MLS but with three conferences. 24 teams in total divided among 3 conferences. Atlantic, Central and Pacific 8 teams per conference. The emphasis is again on the regional rivalries.

    Top two teams qualify to playoffs plus two at large bids!

    How ya like that?

  5. This is great news. They should combine europeans rejects adu, altidore, ed jonson, and dmb and make one team. onywu and davies could be on the bench. I feel like I am missing someone…

  6. No MLS team will ever agree to promotion/relegation without some kind of supplemental income agreement with MLS and U.S. Soccer to make sure they don’t lose any money playing in the lower division.

    Without that, you will see teams collapse and disappear off the face of the earth if they are stuck in the lower divisions more multiple seasons in a row. MLS teams will simply dig in and say no.

    I’d like to see a slow start, just the 2nd division champion replacing the worst team in MLS. But again, none of us should get our hopes up, because promo/relegation here is probably more than a decade away (if it ever happens, period).

  7. it’s good they reached a compromise but it makes no sense having Portland in a different conference than Vancouver, and Tampa in a different conference than Miami. i don’t see any way they’re not gonna lose tons of money this year…

  8. Glad to see a solution finally come about. This appears to be a fair and even compromise and hopefully will let all parties continue on with the least amount of hardship and turmoil.

    Kudos to USSF/Sunil Gulati for working this out (and apparently settling the various legal/contractual issues that were hanging over D2 soccer). This could have gotten much uglier.

  9. The only thing missing is promotion. Let the 2nd division champion play a home and away with the MLS team with the worst record. Winner gets provisional MLS membership that will reward the franchise with MLS status should they make the playoffs in the next MLS season. The benefits to the promoted teams are obvious, but the MLS teams that are demoted get to expose MLS brand to a new audience and potentially generate revenue for the 2nd division in the process.

  10. As for the dispute beyond the 2010 season they should just agree that which ever conference the winner of the playoff come from wins the right to the official second division from here on out. It will never happen but it would make for a hella fierce final.

  11. “Edmonton Drillers – New expansion team for NASL
    This team will supposedly move into the proposed NASL when Vancouver moves up to MLS in 2011 and will act as a reserve club for the Whitecaps.”

  12. Note that each conference will lose one team to MLS after this coming season (they put Vancouver and Portland in different conferences). One less problem for the 2011 season.

  13. actually i just checked it out. USL-2 will still be around, but w/ only 6 teams:
    Charleston Battery
    Charlotte Eagles
    Harrisburg City Islanders
    Pittsburgh Riverhounds
    Real Maryland Monarchs
    Richmond Kickers

    Some teams, like the Western Mass Pioneers have dropped down to the USL PDL (Premier Development League). This is the highest level of amateur soccer in the US, and many players go from this league into the Draft and some few even straight to Europe. The PDL requires that no more than eight players can be over 23 years of age. Also, at least three players on the team must be 18 or under.

    Overall, at least we’ve still got a three pro divisions all with great potential for growth and a great amateur league w/ about 68 teams across the entire country

  14. i could see it possibly but only if clauses were written into agreements stating that the sponsorship fee would be reduced if the team was relegated (or vice versa: increased if the side gained promotion)

  15. Rafi the PDL which is the 4th division is already like that. The 3rd division, USL-2 only has 6 teams so not enough there to do that kind of split. Now if they could get some of the PDL teams into USL-2 or USSF/NASL/USL then that would maybe be an option at those levels as well.

  16. I hate that Atlanta is going to go another year without a Division 2 team. Not getting MLS was bad enough but still no Silverbacks. Hopefully 2011 we’ll fill a vacancy that Vancouver or Portland is going to leave.

    At least we have the Atlanta Beat and FC Atlanta Blackhawks (PDL)

  17. Fuh Sho…No word about Cleveland. Tampa and St Louis only have teams on paper and Minnesota completely purged their team and front office into the world of unemployment. It would be interesting to see who actually plays in 2010.

  18. While I am by no means an authority on this, no one has said USL-2 and PDL won’t continue to exist. USL-2 will probably remain the 3rd tier and PDL the 4th tier. I could be completely off-base, but that would be my guess.

  19. What they should do is have the lower divisions of U.S. soccer split by regions. Have a northeast league, a southeast league, northwest league, west league, north league, and southwest league. That would make traveling to away games easier. You could then do a playoff system where the champion of each league play each other to determine who’s the best (for those of you wanting some kind of playoff). You would be able to have many more cities with teams and give American players even more chances to succeed and be noticed and picked up by MLS teams. Just an idea…

  20. Fenel- Im under the impression that all lower divisions are still owned by USL and will continue to run. The dispute was in USL 1 with renegade owners wanting to start their own league.

  21. With the commissioners of each conference bickering, teams who hate eachother, and some teams leaving for the first division all they are missing is Will Ferrel and this could be the movie Semi Pro. 4th place! 4th Place!

  22. My question exactly. I tend to attend a few Richmond Kickers games when I can. Be disappointed to see them go. Incidentally the company who owns them has recently been sold…

  23. They actually think that they did something better. This is a major step back for soccer in US. What about USL-2 or the PDL? Many college players used those leagues to stay fit and to gain experience during summer time. Not to mention the USL youth leagues like U-23, U-20, and U-17?

  24. While I agree and also think it would be good for many reasons, I wouldn’t count on it. I just don’t think a prom/rel system is “in our blood.” I have a hard time seeing American MLS investors forking millions of dollars into a team that could be relegated to 2nd division soccer. I also think Americans have a hard time letting go of the playoff mindset.

  25. Off topic, but has anyone listened to the Sports Illustrated soccer podcasts? Are the microphones they’re using from circa 1930? I can’t listen to this crappy stuff. Ives et al: the soccer podcast world looks to you. Whatever happened to SBI podcast plans?


Leave a Comment