Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The War of the Soccer Leagues USL vs NASL

I've been reading all the information across the Internet referring to the USL vs NASL issues. I've spoken with friends and fellow bloggers and we have all come up with some interesting ideas. Here is my take on where this whole mess could be going. I'm going to divide it up into 3 scenarios.

Scenario #1 Stalemate

Lets say the USSF intervenes, rejects the NASL which to my eyes seems to be the most likely outcome.
The USSF forces the 2 groups to compromise, USL will need to surrender control to the TOA so that the league could continue under USL-1. The Team owners get their way but the USL continues to have all teams under their wing.

This will not make anybody happy. The TOA wants out of USL. I think with this whole soap opera USL-1 has lost much credibility and is now synonymous with mediocrity. I fear there are too many egos out there and some teams would rather fold then be part of USL at this stage.

Scenario #2.- What if USL wins?

This one looks weird at this point since we just heard the Rhinos jumped ship to the NASL. But we can't count USL/NuRock out just yet. The USSF gave the TOA teams a few weeks to give them a game plan... so to speak and according to that they would approve the league or not. Lets assume the plea is rejected. Lets say no compromise is reached, the original defectors, Carolina, Miami and Minnesota are out of luck and would likely not play in USL. The remaining teams would have no choice but to return to USL if they want to play.

Its a known secret that MLS pretty much runs the USSF. In the beginning, when things first started out, everyone was lead to believe the TOA was going to become MLS2... but when it was known that the TOA was naming the new League NASL, then things started to change. Now the "Farm league" became a competitor even though TOA members claim the contrary.

So far 10 teams have aligned to NASL, Atlanta and St. Louis aren't even up and running, Minnesota is practically in the same boat since they are down to a 3 man organization. We have Tampa and Baltimore and lets include the Rhinos who were set to play in the USL next year. (Legal issues may arise) So basically NASL has only 4 real teams without issues Montreal, Miami , Carolina and Vancouver.

USL claims they are still looking to add a few teams to USL-1. This would invigorate a league that is down to 4 teams. Portland, Austin, Cleveland and Puerto Rico (Cleveland being rummored to be heading to USL-2).
A deal with teams currently aligned with the TOA could still happen. Montreal for one, is playing all suitors. Sure, they say they are with NASL but MLS wants them badly and so does USL.
Yup, you can't count USL out yet!

Scenario #3.- NASL wins one way or another.

10 groups willing to field teams in NASL is something to brag about. Vancouver will still field a team even after they go to MLS (Edmonton?) and Montreal doesn't need MLS, USL or NASL for that matter. If NASL is approved and if Montreal decides not to leave to MLS, then NASL will be a strong league going into 2o1o and beyond.
Name issues with the Rowdies? Worst case scenario Tampa could change their name. Legal issues between USL, Baltimore, Tampa and the Rhino's? Rob Clark, owner of the Rhinos said he believes nothing holds them from jumping ship. The same can be said for the other teams. Minnesota is the weak link, no idea if they will survive when the dust settles. But even if the non-formed groups do not field teams there are still enough teams to make it work. Soon more teams could be jumping ship (No word from PR and Portland yet).

Even if NASL is not approved by the USSF there are other options and steps that can be taken, it wont be over by a long shot. They can still play under the Canadian Soccer Federation which could potentially include American teams. MLS /USSF can't argue since Toronto plays under a USSF sanctioned League.

I got a headache with all this and I'm sure you did too. I'd like for all this to be over with so that we can concentrate on getting all our teams ready for next year! Lets hope the outcome will be in the best interest for Soccer in the United States and Canada.

Check out these Cool links
USL-1 Schedule for 2010
Interview with Kartik concerning NASL
Is NASL worth the risk?
League Dispute Has Done What USL Didn’t Do


Johnny said...

Too many things can happen, I need an advil!
US Soccer Federation should just approve the league and let the teams run their own fate.
USL should concentrate on their lower divisions.

Derek said...

For the USSF to deny sanctioning to NASL at this point would be the worst possible outcome. Too many teams have jumped and too many bridges have been burned. The tide has turned and NASL is the future of division 2 soccer in North America.

To block NASL now would be disastrous. As many as half of the NASL teams could cease to exist, and bringing the other disgruntled teams back into USL-1 would be a mess.

paulsepp said...

The more I hear about the toa/usl situation, the farther a conclusion seems to be.

thomask said...

The best model for growing a soccer league from the ground-up in a modern media age is the Japanese J-League which is less than a decade ahead of MLS in development.

So hopefully NuRock sees there is less money in a Div3 competition and allows USL to reache a compromise for integration of PDL/USL into a regional championship with a playoff to qualify future expansion teams to NASL provided they meet all the criteria (stadium, ownership, sponsorship, performance etc).