Wednesday, September 08, 2010 |
When US Soccer sanctioned second division soccer for 2010, they did so on a temporary basis; after several USL member clubs split off to form their own rival collection, a revived NASL, it was unclear just how the division would operate this season. In the end, the Federation chose to run the league under their own auspices via forced truce, with the situation to be reviewed again at year's end.
The review period is rapidly approaching, and that has led to a flurry of positioning by the two sides. The NASL leadership has cobbled together a group of teams for their application to US Soccer, though there are serious questions about its ability to meet new guidelines for Division II. It seems clear that the federation would need to grant a waiver for a few teams involved (most notably Puerto Rico if they are in fact on board with the NASL). Whether fully capable or not, the NASL seems intent on pushing for D2 status as they originally planned when they broke away from the USL last year.
Meanwhile, the USL announced today that they are merging their First Division (USL-1) and Second Division (USL-2) into one competition for the 2011 season. Called "USL-PRO", the league will operate with a regional structure (though the details and clubs involved are not yet known) in a bid to bring down costs while leveraging natural regional rivalries. It appears that USL has effectively pulled out of the Second Division race and will bring their clubs down to a de facto Third Division status. In light of the rigorous financial standards now in place this makes sense, and with the regional aspect of their plan at odds with USSF's second division rules, USL would have no chance of getting sanctioning at that level.
There are naturally questions exploding out of this news today and the implications of NASL failure:
Which teams will make up USL-PRO?
How will their regions be structured, and will those regional competitions filter into a playoff system as season's end?
If the NASL fails to get sanctioning, will they attempt to play anyway?
Where will teams currently riding the fence, like Puerto Rico and Rochester, ultimately end up?
Obviously time will provide most of the answers. US Soccer's decision on NASL's application will shake out much of the intrigue, and determine if USL's statements of de facto second division will appear as prescience after the fact or bluster before it.
For more on the saga, the financial requirements for DII leagues/teams, etc., be sure to bookmark Inside Minnesota Soccer.