If Ottawa Fury was to move to USL, the club would need CSA’s blessing… and no application has been made By Steven Sandor Posted on September 28, 2016 0 0 799 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Ottawa's Carl Haworth in action against FC Edmonton. PHOTO: STEVE KINGSMAN/CANADA SOCCER If the rumours are true and the Ottawa Fury is looking to leave NASL for the USL, the Canadian Soccer Association has yet to see any proof of it. Canada Soccer has confirmed that it has not received an application from the Fury in regards to a potential USL move. Repeat. No application to the CSA has been made as of yet. And Canada Soccer confirmed that a potential move by any club to the USL would need to be approved by the Association. NASL owners are meeting this week in Atlanta; it’s a key get-together, as they are discussing the future of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who need a new owner, after the previous ownership group walked away from the club. Rayo OKC has seen a share of upheavals this season, including a front-office clearout and a squabble over the team’s artificial turf playing surface. And the headlines have been filled with speculated departures of teams to USL, with Tampa Bay and Ottawa consistently mentioned. Ottawa did recently close down its academy program. But, in the eagerness to get the news out — some context has been lost. For Canadians, a lot of the material is coming from American media, who really don’t often take the time to understand the differences between the Canadian and Americans teams in shared leagues such as NASL. And one thing that continues to get lost in the flotsam and jetsam of the Twitterverse is that the CSA has the ultimate say on any team’s application to join the USL. So, let’s look at, historically, the CSA has viewed the USL. In 2013, there were no Canadian teams in USL’s professional tier. The league then announced a partnership with MLS, with the blessing of the United States Soccer Federation. The Canadian Soccer Association wasn’t made a part of that negotiation and, at the time, was pondering the Easton Report, which suggested that all Division-3 soccer teams in Canada should play in regional Canadian leagues. President Victor Montagliani said that the CSA would not sanction Canadian teams to play in USL. But, in late 2014, when the Toronto Lynx looked at relocating to Hamilton and moving to USL’s pro league, Montagliani said that the CSA would look at Canadian teams in USL on a case-by-case basis, and that the association would do what’s best for Canadian players and Canadian coaches. That move never materialized. Later that year, the CSA voted to allow TFCII, VWFC2 and FC Montreal to operate in USL. But the parameters were strict; they had to respect quotas that required half their rosters to be Canada-eligible players. But, none of these three teams — as they are viewed as affiliates of MLS teams, not freestanding clubs — are permitted to play in the Amway Canadian Championship. Back to the present. If Ottawa was to pursue a move, they’d be the first Canadian independent club to be sanctioned in the post-MLS-affiliation-agreement USL. But there would be debate before any decision was made. Conditions could be placed on the team. And, possibly, a team could be allowed to play in USL but not in the Canadian Championship. That previous paragraph covered off scenarios that could happen. But, as it stands, we can only speculate — because the Fury have not yet indicated to the CSA that anything will be changing on the club’s end. But it needs to be said that, despite the scrutiny USL gets from the Canadian Soccer Association, it differs from NASL and MLS in that it has always granted domestic-player status to Canadian players, no matter if they play on American or Canadian teams. In MLS and NASL, Americans are domestics league wide but Canadians are forced to take up international roster spots on American teams. The result? More than 100 Canadians played in USL this season, and teams like Swope Park Rangers, Orlando City B and Rochester Rhinos routinely gave multiple starting slots to Canadians. Meanwhile, only six Canadians play for all the American MLS and NASL teams combined, and at least four of them have dual citizenship or green cards which allow them to count as Americans on those clubs’ rosters.