Home Canadian Soccer NASL scrambles to get back in the USSF’s good books

NASL scrambles to get back in the USSF’s good books

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The fledgling North American Soccer League has confirmed that the United States Soccer Federation has yanked its pledge to sanction it as the region’s official Division 2.

But the league promises it will be reapply for Division-2 status and be ready as planned for the April launch of the 2011 season.

Here’s the official statement from NASL.

“The North American Soccer League (NASL) confirms recent reports that the USSF Board of Directors, at its meeting yesterday, withdrew its provisional sanctioning of the league.  The NASL understands that the Board’s decision was based on its conclusion that the league fails to comply with certain of the newly heightened Division II professional standards.

“Despite this decision, the NASL understands that it may resubmit its application for sanctioning.  The NASL intends to work closely with the USSF to resolve the USSF’s concerns and resubmit its application as soon as possible in order to be sanctioned at the USSF Annual General Meeting to be held on February 11 – 12.  The NASL will not pursue sanctioning as any other division under the USSF bylaws.

“The NASL and its member teams are fully committed to establishing a long overdue stable structure and platform for second division soccer in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.   The NASL looks forward to working closely with Major League Soccer (MLS) at the first division level and United Soccer Leagues (USL) at the third division level and below in developing soccer in North America at all levels.

“Aaron Davidson, CEO of the NASL, commented, ‘We have invested a lot of time, energy and resources over the past four years to establish a proper team-owned and governed professional second division soccer league and separate ourselves from the instability and annual team turnover of USL, the former second division.  The USSF and the soccer community have realized that it’s time once and for all to launch a new second division with higher standards which finally ensure the stability, growth and prosperity of second division soccer in North America.  We are prepared to respond to the USSF’s concerns and look forward to delivering on our commitments to our teams and fans to re-launch second division as the NASL in 2011.’”

During its November board meeting, the USSF agreed to give a provisional second-division sanction to the eight-team circuit, which includes the Montreal Impact and FC Edmonton. But, things have changed — there are concerns about the increased league ownership of the Carolina RailHawks.

San Antonio Scorpions FC had been slated to join the league in 2012.

The pledge to not pursue any other sanctioning also kills any speculation of the league reinventing itself as a Divison-3 circuit. Judging by Davidson’s rhetoric, it’s Div-2 or bust.

Last season, before the USL-NASL fight was resolved by the one-year shotgun union between the two teams in USSF Div. 2, the Canadian Soccer Association indicated that special sanctions would be granted by the CSA to the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact so they would be eligible to play in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

Will that policy continue in 2011 for the Impact and/or FC Edmonton? After all, save for the need to finalize a TV deal, the new format for the NCC is ready to go, with Toronto FC and FC Edmonton in one semifinal, and Montreal taking on Vancouver in the other.

The question is if FC Edmonton, which was to play its first competitive season in 2011 after a slate of friendlies in 2010, can survive.

But FCE was looking at a Commonwealth Stadium date with Toronto FC to provide a massive PR push for the club, and help build interest in the NASL season.

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