NASL fans beseech USSF president to grant Division-2 status to league

It’s making its rounds throughout the soccer media. But seven of the eight NASL teams are represented (by supporters groups) in this open letter to U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, urging him to grant the league official Div. 2 status. The USSF meets next week.

Two weeks ago, the USSF stripped the NASL of its provisional acceptance as the official Div. 2 of soccer in America, but the NASL has carried on with business as usual, and is confident it can win back the status. The league has stated that going down to Div. 3 is not an option.

Here is the letter:

February 1, 2011

President Sunil Gulati
U.S. Soccer Federation
1801 S. Prairie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616

Dear President Gulati,

As supporters of North American Soccer League (NASL) clubs, we would like to voice our concern regarding the recent decision by your Federation to rescind the provisional Division 2 status of the NASL. We are personally appalled by the decision of the Federation to deny second division sanctioning to the NASL. Many fans were positively encouraged by the interest the USSF paid to second division soccer this season, and were pleased by the new standards put in place to ensure stability and continuity at the second division level. We thank the USSF for the interest and leadership you have provided during 2010 to stabilize and maintain second division.

Should our community be deprived of high level, but affordable entertainment in the form of NASL soccer for 2011, fans will be starved of access to the beautiful game. Without professional soccer in our community, many fans may simply move on to other sports and an opportunity to continue the upward trajectory of interest in soccer here at home will be lost.

For our youth soccer community, it is imperative that the NASL play at the second division level this season. The USSF is striving to improve soccer in the United States and improve our national team. But if we deny young fans in five key American soccer markets local heroes to emulate and a club to support, we potentially lose a generation of kids who can help make the United States the best we can be in World Soccer. The partner federations and communities in Canada and Puerto Rico would also be severely affected.

The loss of our league will also have an inevitable ripple effect that will hurt not only the US National Team program and supporter’s base, but also development of soccer throughout the CONCACAF region. The NASL serves as a competitive league where many nations throughout the region have players developing their talent. Having better players throughout our region will no doubt be beneficial to the development of U.S. Soccer, providing stronger competition to challenge and grow the U.S. National Team.

When our teams played in USL, we were never able to keep track of our opponents or the composition of the league. The NASL has been forthright and aggressive in its local marketing while pledging a needed stability at the second division level. The NASL’s ability to attract the type of investors the USSF wants involved in the sport based on the new second division standards also has local fans excited about the future of both our teams and the league we compete in. We feel ownership and a connection to our league, the NASL that we never felt for USL.

The teams of the NASL have already invested much time and resources to establish this second-division league. This is the foundation for creating a stable second division in this country, as opposed to a league that benefits from the constant expansion and contraction of teams. We believe that it is time for the USSF to work for what is best for the future and stability of U.S. Soccer. The mission should be to further the game’s roots in our communities by supporting soccer at all levels.

We hope you recognize the vital role second-division soccer plays across North America and Puerto Rico. We ask that you reverse this shortsighted and damaging decision. Displacing fans and hurting the development of soccer in the United States should not be what the USSF is all about. Your role as a governing body is to promote the sport and grow the game. Working with the NASL to establish a long needed, stable second division is the type of positive development this sport sorely needs.

Sincerely,

Pieter Brown
President, Miami Ultras
Miami FC / Strikers Supporters

Steve Holler
President, Ralph’s Mob
FC Tampa Bay Supporters

Tim Hayes
On behalf of The Dark Clouds
NSC Minnesota Supporters

Kristian Vázquez-Díaz
President, Islanders Foreign Legion
Puerto Rico Islanders Supporters

Daniel Stroud
Member, Jailhawks
Carolina Railhawks Supporters

Chris Martz
Westside 109
Atlanta Silverbacks Supporters

Steven Beauregard
Member, Ultras Montréal
Montréal Impact Supporters

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.