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Report: Gulati, USL executives attend NASL board meeting


With the NASL’s future in the air, it seems like a few influential executives are ready to broker a deal.

According to Big Apple Soccer, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, USL president Jake Edwards and USL CEO Alec Papadakis were at the NASL board meeting in Atlanta.

It’s unknown as to why the three men were at the meeting, but there are several possibilities. It could involve NASL teams joining the USL or composing a deal between the two leagues.

The NASL is set to lose three clubs before the 2017 season as Minnesota United is set to join MLS, plus the Ottawa Fury and Tampa Bay Rowdies have already confirmed that they will be playing in the USL next year.


  1. Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but someone with more business savvy and perhaps some journalists with access (and the stones) to should really do some digging and research on the relationship between “SUM” (Soccer United Marketing – which Don Garber is CEO of) and Sunil Gulati and the USSF (which have employed SUM to “market” CONCACAF).

    Whatever side you’re on with the pending lawsuit the USWNT has proposed against the USSF, the most revealing aspect that I wanted to hear about was Soccer United Marketing’s relationship with the USSF and read about the financial dealings between the federation and this firm that Garber runs. From what I’ve read here and there, it seems despite Garber’s routine cry’s that MLS isn’t profitable (or the clubs aren’t on average), but somehow “SUM” is making millions in the process and even bought a 25% stake in the league 5 or 6 years ago.

    From a distance, and with my simple brain, it seems as if there’s been some obvious collusion at the top of the pyramid to directly ensure MLS prospers while the other leagues become secondary or obsolete. What relationship does Gulati have with “SUM”? How much influence does Garber have within USSF?

    That lawsuit is something I’m really interested in reading, but I have a strong feeling there’s some dirty laundry with the inner-workings and finances related to SUM, and MLS….which Garber happens to run both (no conflict of interest…right?).

    • I hope that I am not too late to the show. In terms of competition between marketing arms, remember that Traffic was a big component of the ownership and management of the NASL. With Traffic being implicated with the FIFA and CONCACAF criminal cases, the NASL lost a huge supporting arm in terms of soccer connections and marketing.

  2. Beginning of the end for NASL and first step towards promotion/relegation – will take years, perhaps a decade but I will see it in my lifetime!

    • “Years, perhaps a decade” is a good goal for pro/rel within USL between 2nd and 3rd divisions once USL gets above 40 teams, assuming they don’t split into an East and a West league.

      Pro/rel isn’t realistic unless the USL can aggregate enough owners with viable stadiums and fan bases so that they can garner a TV deal that is somewhat in the same ball park as MLS’ TV deal. The NFL didn’t merge with the AFL and the NBA didn’t merge with the ABA until the latter leagues established themselves as legitimate competition and MLS will be no different with the NASL/USL or whoever.

      Bottom line, the best pro/rel supporters can do to get full pro/rel is to support their local soccer if outside an MLS market and support the NASL/USL if not encompassed by their locality.

      • I think we should all agree to meet up on this website in late 2026 to discuss how the pro/rel launch has gone.

        We’ll have to update the hyperlink to “” in honor of it’s made contributor for the past two years: Ryan Tolmich.

  3. It is for the good of the entire US Soccer system that leagues don’t fail. The best thing would be for NASL to fold into the US Soccer ladder…in this case USL 1/2. MLS can continue to use USL as a proving ground (as either an established farm system and/or proving grounds for future MLS franchises).

    I have said it before, I think pro/rel with NASL or USL was a pipe dream. However. Having MLS eventually grow to 40 teams or so with pro/rel can happen, but it will be a couple decades away. For that to happen, the level below (USL) will have to become a lot more successful. Thankfully, MLS is not so successful at this point, that is conceivable that the best 2-4 USL (NASL will cease) will be as financially succesful as the bottom 2-3 MLS teams.

    • I still doubt you’ll ever see ‘real’ pro/rel in North America. It’s a legacy of all those parts of the world where the sport developed about 100 years ahead of the game here (the history of soccer’s fits and starts over the past 115 years here is a great read). With the launch of MLS in 1996 and the single entity, franchise fee model, I don’t see how you could possibly convince and incentivize MLS owners / investors that they could possibly benefit from pro/rel. In the U.S. we use playoffs to crown champions and create the excitement (playoff races, the playoffs themselves) that pro/rel does in other parts of the world. Look what this thinking has done for the Cosmos ownership! For a variety of reasons, but most importantly, the Cosmos opted to forego paying $100M to MLS to gain entry into the ‘big league.’ Instead they figured they’d pay a tenth of that to join the NASL and invest the rest in their ‘brand.’ Now they’re a wannabe big club playing in a failing minor league on a plastic lacrosse field in front of 3,750 fans, and on the verge of bankruptcy.

      • Real pro/rel – meaning a club starts in the amature ranks and works their way up to the top via league championships – will never happen.

        What some are calling faux-rel – basically sum controls divs 1 & 2 and allows their franchises to move up and down – is bound to happen. That is if the powers at be ever realize its potential. Frankly i think that is not perfect, but good enough and most importantly realistic

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