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NASL Submits Bid for Division-2 Sanctioning for 2011

2010 September 29
by Brian Quarstad

IMS has learned that the North American Soccer League (NASL) has commenced the process for sanctioning of Division-2 soccer. The NASL submitted the bid to the USSF on Monday and included only 6 of the 8 required teams. However, the bid process is now believed to be much more fluid than originally thought, and NASL executives are working with the USSF to make sure they are presenting their bid properly. The NASL believes they will eventually have 8 teams who will play in the 2011 season and it’s possible that they could have up to 10.

The six teams that were included in the bid all meet the financial requirements of the new USSF D-2 standards. The teams included were: Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Miami FC, Montreal Impact, FC Tampa Bay and the Puerto Rico Islanders.

IMS was told recently by a source who is involved with the Islanders that the team’s multiple owners have sold the necessary shares to team president Andy Guillemard-Noble who can meet the financial requirements of USSF.

It’s believed that the NASL is continuing to work with AC St. Louis and the NSC Minnesota Stars to make sure they are eventually included in the bid when they can meet the strict financial thresholds set out by the USSF. Those teams will also be important to achieve the USSF quota that 75% of teams are based in the US. Of the 6 teams initially involved with the bid, 50% are from outside of the US.

Ryan Woods, a St. Louis native, had previously told IMS he is currently in negotiations to purchase AC St. Louis and A-B Park from Jeff Cooper. “We are still in negotiations,” said Woods by phone on Wednesday. He indicated that negotiations continue to move forward and he is hopeful but did not have a deadline on when he believed things might be finalized.

It was also learned that Traffic Sports USA has been in negotiations with the National Sports Center (NSC) to become a partner of the Minnesota Stars and take over the player salary portion of the team.

Kris Bjerkness, general manager of the NSC Stars, would not confirm Traffic’s interest but he did speak of the team’s current situation on Wednesday. “Our status hasn’t changed,” said Bjerkness. “We are not in a position to be able to field a team next season unless we find a new partner or owner. We are still actively searching and have had discussions with numerous parties in that process.”

Bjerkness did not elaborate on his comment about a “new owner” which is not something that was previously discussed by the NSC. “While we support the efforts of the USSF to upgrade the standards for pro soccer, the new standards will necessitate that we find an organization or individual willing to join us as a financial partner,” said Bjerkness in a press release on August 30th.

The Rochester Rhinos are conspicuously absent from the NASL bid, even though team owner Rob Clark has a multi-year commitment to the NASL. Clark was contacted several times today for comment but did not return the calls. Clark has admitted to attending the Division-3 USL Pro meeting in Tampa in September and told IMS he was considering his options.

“I’m going to absorb all of the alternatives for the Rhinos should we choose not to participate in D2 next year,” said Clark in early September. “If the USL D3 league and its owners have their house in order and more importantly make decisions that make sense consistently, then I will have a very hard decision to make this off season.”

It was also learned that USL owners Rob Hoskins and Alex Papadakis attended the September 17th Rhinos home game against Miami FC which the Rhinos lost. The two USL owners sat with Clark in his suite.

Austin Aztex owner Phil Rawlins still seems to be holding his cards close to his chest, but the question is how much longer can he be noncommittal? Rawlins also attended the USL Pro meeting but currently USL Pro has no midwest teams. CEO Djorn Buchholz has said numerous times that Austin has no plans to play D3 and that it would make no sense from a geographical standpoint to join a league (D-3) which is based on the East Coast. Buchholz also said the team has plans on building a soccer-specific stadium with planning beginning in 2012.

It’s believed that Rawlins would not have any issues meeting the USSF financial requirements.

65 Responses
  1. Hector permalink
    September 29, 2010

    DON”T BE FOOLED USSF….(1) Miami FC may be in the USA but is owned and controled by some boyz from Brazil. (2) Puerto Rico’s still not in FIFA’s map of America and the USSF cannot really think all the shareholders of PR’s Islanders are all selling-out without and separate agreement that gives them back shares/dollars at the first opportunity. (3) St. Louis new owner, this guys is Todd Cooper’s sock puppet and we know how he plays, He’s to soccer , what John Spano was to hockey! (4) Montreal is going MLS for 2012 don’t let the “where will we play next year whine” lend any weight. Saputo helped fuel the earthquake in American Soccer only to ensure he’d get the MLS nod. The NASL is a unsustainable model and the wannabe Jerry Jones & George Steinberners, just aren’t!

  2. September 29, 2010

    Well, good luck with that. I can’t see how PR can make the standards, and even if Traffic is going to be the NASL’s Anschutz, the whole enterprise is still about three bricks shy of a load.

  3. Tony in Florida permalink
    September 29, 2010

    Agreed Hector.

    Miami FC is a Brazilian team. Foreign ownership should be banned from our leagues. All teams should be majority owned by Americans. 51% minimum. They should be disqualified unless or until they are owned by a taxpaying American citizen or corporation.

    Puerto Rico needs to be eliminated. I think it is embarrassing for our top league, which should be our only sanctioned professional league, MLS to have to compete with a Caribbean team that is benefiting from our professional setup. The USSF must force the Islanders to either join the USL Pro Caribbean division or go to the Puerto Rican league.

    Montreal is going to be a problem in MLS. Saputo helped start this anti USL movement among the greedy wanna be Jerry Jones owners. MLS and the USSF need to tell him now- either play strictly by MLS rules or we’re awarding MontreaL 2012 to SOMEONE ELSE.

    Edmonton? Good god, can we stop adding Canadian teams.

    Carolina and Tampa Bay are the only ones that meet the proper standards for what should be professional teams in the US. Those teams can compete in USL Pro or nowhere. It is not like either will be missed. We will miss Selby Wellman and his mouth of the south routine though.

    USL has articulated a clear vision for the future with the USL Pro which will be the top division outside MLS. Eventually MLS should be the only professional league and we should all support and promote the MLS brand instead of cannibalizing the market and creating brand confusion. But until MLS can take over the rest of the professional pyramid we need USL to fill the gap. We also need to work together as a soccer nation to beat back this threat from the NASL, fueled by Brazilian money and wannabe power players like Saputo and Wellman.

  4. September 29, 2010

    Thanks Brian for all the work you put in researching your articles and keeping us all informed.

  5. JStats permalink
    September 29, 2010

    Hector: Who is Todd Cooper??? That’s an unknown name even to a St. Louisian. You could atleast get our owners name correct.

  6. Jeremy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    By my math, even if they add two teams, they’ll still have three of eight from outside the U.S.

    Wouldn’t that disqualify the model under theUSSF’s new rules?

  7. CVO permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Hindsight begs the question, “What would this all be like if the breakaway NASL teams would’ve just stayed in the USL-1?” I think we’d see essentially what you’ll see in USL-Pro next year. Would’ve saved all of us and USSF alot of time and wasted energy.

  8. treefire permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Hector, 1) I doubt that people care who owns the teams, so much as where they play. How many teams in the English top flight are owned by Englishmen? 2) You’re correct that Puerto Rico is not considered the U.S. as far as soccer is concerned. However, I don’t think it matters what sort of business arrangement the people selling the shares make, as long as the club continues to meet the USSF requirements. 3) Has it been reported somewhere that the new possible owner of AC St. Louis is Cooper’s “puppet”? This seems unlikely – if it was the case, why would he not have brought him in as an ownership partner in the beginning, rather than 2 apparently unreliable brothers from another country? Also, why is it taking so long to negotiate the sale of the team and field to a “puppet”? 4) Sure Montreal is moving. Teams will continue to move. Soccer in the US still has a lot of growing pains to go through, and the landscape of teams, from top to bottom, will change a lot in the coming years. That doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t play, or that we shouldn’t have a D2 next year.

  9. jack permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @CVO

    In hindsight the owners of the teams involved in the NASL don’t care what YOU think or what YOU believe is a waste of time.

    They foot the bill for the teams and most, if not all of these owners, have lost a lot of money fielding soccer teams for people like you and me to be able to go to games. They can do what they want and what they feel is best for their teams.

    You wanna join USL PRO they buy into the USL ponzi scheme and pay them an expansion fee and watch your team fold after a year.

  10. treefire permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Jeremy, you’re math is certainly correct. Even if they do get to 10 teams, with 7 from the US, they still don’t have quite 75%. I, for one, am hoping that the USSF will be willing to bend a bit on what is essentially an arbitrary criteria. It doesn’t seem like it should be a deal-breaker for 8-10 teams, who’ve invested years of time and millions of dollars in their operations, to have to stop playing, or, in some cases, drop to D3 or D4 (not all of them would be able to do this, and would have to release players and play as amateur teams or just go dark). Not to mention the scores of professional soccer player salaries that would be lost, which would be a blow to US soccer development.

  11. treefire permalink
    September 30, 2010

    CVO, hindsight does not beg that question, for me. I think if the TOA had not put pressure on the USL, and eventually broken away from them as the NASL, we would have had little or no progress in the D2 area over the last two years. We would still see poor USL marketing and management, random teams coming in and dropping out, a generally unstable and unhealthy landscape. As it is, it appears that the US will have a stronger and more interesting D3, at least, and, hopefully, we’ll be able to say the same thing about D2. At the very least, the TOA have forced change in an area that desperately needed it. I’m anxious to see what D2 and D3 will look like. Btw, whatever USL Pro looks like, I doubt it will look much like what the leagues would have looked like if the NASL hadn’t broken away. In that case, D3 would still consist of teams from the East coast that want to play regionally, and D2 would actually look a lot like the NASL, but without the financial requirements being met.

  12. thesuperrookie permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I think the big news is that I am never going to say anything bad about Traffic USA ever again.

    SAVE The STARS!

  13. MarcV permalink
    September 30, 2010

    To USLPro supporters (can’t call them fans yet) who want to put down NASL’s efforts – on Sept 30 2010, NASL has 6 teams lined up with 2+ more wanting in, while USLPro has a total of 1 (one) team confirmed for 2011. Who’s sitting on the fence, now?

  14. ERic permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @MarcV: the only reason we haven’t seen more USLPRO team announcements is that there’s no deadline (at least, not any earlier than next spring) for them.

  15. September 30, 2010

    Marc, the USL has also announced the two teams from Puerto Rico the Dayton PDL club.

    http://usl1.uslsoccer.com/home/468480.html

    Of course it’s expect that all 6 of this years current D-3 teams will join along with expansion clubs FC New York and possibly Orlando but I’ll believe the Orlando franchise when I see it.

    So officially, I guess there are 4 teams who have announced.

    As to those who say things would have been just fine if the TOA had not been formed. Well, there certainly would not have been as much fireworks and rhetoric, but the franchise system of the USL seemed firmly in place and we had a 75% fail rate in teams. That could not continue. A feather in Papadakas and Hoskins for allowing this new league’s owners much of the control that the TOA teams has asked for with USL before they broke away.

    The teams in USL Pro still have no say in who USL brings into the league and that actually may be a critical step that USL still needs to take. But I have to believe the last several years have been growing pains and hope that it brings this countries minor league soccer programs to a new level.

  16. Bart permalink
    September 30, 2010

    BQ,

    Where are you getting information that the team owners will have no say in who USL brings into the USL Pro league? I think the opposite of that is true.

    Also, Orlando is an excellent demographic for a pro team (D-2 or otherwise). It has the income bands, the education profile and the international population that should make this market a very attractive setting for an investor group.

    As it relates to Traffic coming in to subsidize Minnesota by paying their players, I can guarantee this will come at the cost of Traffic owning the players for contract purposes. Traffic would more than likely determine who would be on the team and Minnesota would be nothing more than a dumping ground for players for Traffic. That has been their ultimate goal with NASL anyway, and this just makes it much more transparent.

    What I am more interested in is where Selby Wellman is with his previous press releases that USSF has to grant sanctioning by October 1st, so NASL can properly market for the 2011 season. He has attempted to pressure USSF at every endeavor with his out of the box press releases and interviews. For a man that likes to lose $1,000,000 a year, he is never short for words.

    It is interesting that Papadakis and Hoskins were in Rochester with Clark in his suite, as you report. Could it be that a lot more announcements are about to come forth from USL? Bill Archer, that ubiquitous blogger, may have said it best, when he stated that USL marked the bill “paid in full” to NASL.

  17. fotbalist permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @Tony in Florida – What’s wrong with Canadian teams? Also, I don’t see any problems with foreign ownership, as long as the team is allowed to develop local identity.

    Truly, Saputo seems to have initiated a great stir only to leave the confusion behind in a 1 year, when Montreal moves to MLS; but I agree with BQ, had it not been for the TOA and the re-birth of the NASL (even if it ends up dying out again) we would not have had genuine attention given to D2 in this country. I’m happy it happened.

  18. thesuperrookie permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Anyne want to bet that not all the teams from usl-2 will be back next year? I bet one folds…

  19. smatthew permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Ugh, this is gonna be another messy postseason, to misquote the Calgon Lady, “Playoffs! Take me away.”

  20. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    MarcV: Some other posters have already helped you with correct USLPRO count, Bro.

    Sevilla PR, RiverPR, Charleston, Antigua (start laughing here), Dayton–kinda looks like they are on the heels of the NASL.

    By the way, now that we got the medal count clarified a bit, I want to ask a question:

    Is it ok for those of us who are pretty much simultaneously amused and disgusted with the whole soap opera for us to put down BOTH camps, the NASL and the USL?

    Or is that too much like being on the fence???

  21. September 30, 2010

    As long as it well thought out criticism it’s called critical thinking. Just don’t slam to slam….if you know what I mean.

  22. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Hector (Marcos??? Holt??? Papadakis??? Whatever the last name is Bro):

    First you confused us with what sort of currency is used in Puerto Rico (still confused by the whole US $ thing). Then you reminded us about the map (thanks). The most helpful comment that you have brought to the discussion is the one about the ole’ wink wink financial restructuring conspiracy theory with Islanders management (and I am being serious, HERE–strong point).

    I also gotta give you point about Uncle Joey Saputo. I’m not a fan. Kinda funny that the NASL revolution is being led by people like Uncle Joey–it’s like the guy said, “Hey–this dance sucks–We could really make this thing rock if we did it the right way–and I know how to do it the RIGHT way–who’s in with me???!?

    Then the dude already arranged to get with a prettier girl at an even cooler dance.

    IMS Comment Readers: Don’t Be Fooled!

    Hector’s USL influenced post USL spiked kool aid rants are pretty much just that–rants!

    USL is a joke.
    Kinda like the NASL.
    USL is no better off.
    Both models are suspect.
    They need to just kiss and make up.

    By the way–I would be curious–Who would the USL’s equivalent of Jerry Jones and George Stienbrenner???

    Hector, put down the USL Kool Aid. Next time I get to Florida, it your people and my people can make it happen then I invite you to enjoy a beverage of your choice.

    I don’t have GPS but I cn always Mapquest the directions to the new USL Offices.

    We can have a drink and laugh about all this…

  23. mikey permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Actually three USL2 teams have also already announced there plans to play USLPRO as well.

    Charleston Battery
    http://give-em-no-quarter.blogspot.com/2010/09/battery-joins-usl-pro.html

    Richmond Kickers
    http://usl2.uslsoccer.com/home/467730.html

    and Harrisburgh City Islanders
    http://usl2.uslsoccer.com/home/466932.html

  24. Craig permalink
    September 30, 2010

    BQ: Absent from the article and discussion are CP Baltimore and Atlanta Silverbacks. What news from them – are their finances completely blown? Are they officially out of NASL, with any chance of moving to USL Pro?

  25. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Oh. Oh. I think I may have just broke the slam rule.
    I’m going to get Blocked again…

    I would like to officialy and publicly state that I am very fond of both some NASL and USL officials and that my poor attempts at humor are nothing more that to hide my sadness because as in the words of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles classic (as remade so brilliantly by the English Beat)–they are nothing more than the tears of a clown…

    No malice is intended.

  26. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @Craig: Why are you trying to get me into more trouble with BQ, Bro?
    Why do you have to serve up the Boris softball when I am trying to behave?

    And why do you have to put salt into my wounds with the Baltimore comments??? We didn’t make the playoffs. Isn’t that enough???

  27. Rabble Rouser permalink
    September 30, 2010

    “if Traffic is going to be the NASL’s Anschutz”

    Except Traffic – which is funneling all this info to Brian via Kartik – doesn’t give a rip about the long-term future of the league like Anschutz did. They just want access to players to sell/loan overseas. This shell game which they attempt to hide by hijacking blog news via one hire is pretty funny and the USSF is wise to it by making them jump through a ton of hoops to justify it.

    So enjoy that thought until Brian censors it because he’s made it clear to me that criticism of Kartik is pretty much off limits here.

  28. Grant Stephens permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @ Tony in Florida…you made a statement that seems confusing to anyone who cares about the future of US soccer. You mentioned that Carolina and TB are the “only ones that meet the proper standards for what should be professional teams in the US”, but then say that “It is not like either will be missed” should they no longer exist? So, tell me, what kind of teams would be ‘missed’? (clearly, you dont live in the Tampa area!) If these teams – the ones who ‘do it right’ – dont exist and nobody misses them, then whats the point of having any D2 soccer in The US?

    Thanks as always, Brian! This is news I wouldnt have heard around here.

  29. Tom permalink
    September 30, 2010

    What are the big financial differences between NASl D2 and USL-Pro (D3)? Obviously a regional league would result in lower travel costs, but what (if any) are the salary costs, team revenues, etc….? I know a D3 team is cheaper to run, just don’t know how much.

    I’m trying to make some form of parallel to other sports here in the US and the closest I can make is baseball (and even then it’s a stretch).
    MLB = MSL
    AAA = D2 (NASL)
    AA = D3 (USL Pro)
    A/Rookie – PDL, NPSL, etc…

    So based on that comparison, there are some folks who have formally expressed their intentions and are content at being D3 (cool) and some folks who want to be D2 (cool). What I don’t understand are folks who want a whole league to fail which IMO would create a sizable gap in the soccer heirarchy landscape (uncool).

  30. September 30, 2010

    Rabble Rouser,
    Please don’t flatter yourself by feeling so special. You are not the only one, I’ve banned people from both sides of the argument in the past.

    If you are going to go on record about this then lets tell the truth. You were making personal slams that were not allowed on this site as yankiboy jokingly referred to. Your comment went beyond sharing your opinion to a personal attack. I gave you a yellow card so to speak and said that if you do it again you will get a red which is a ban from the site.

    The rules are simple at IMS. Share your opinion but be respectful.

  31. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @fotbalist: Not being Tony, this is just pure speculation but I really think that part of Tony’s comments were purposefully over the top.

    Maybe I’m wrong. I hope not.

  32. Wayne permalink
    September 30, 2010

    As a former Rhinos season ticket holder who now lives in MN, Clark is very shrewd. He purchased the team and the stadium for a song and knows how to negotiate. I still believe Rochester is headed to D3. It saves him a lot of money in travel and player salaries. The Buffalo/Rochester area has a very strong youth soccer system. If the Rhinos can cater to that youth system, they will continue to have plenty of fans. That meeting with USL officials seals it for me.

    If not, it’s a horse race and I’m not betting on anyone at this point.

  33. Kenn permalink
    September 30, 2010

    “Puerto Rico needs to be eliminated. I think it is embarrassing for our top league, which should be our only sanctioned professional league, MLS to have to compete with a Caribbean team that is benefiting from our professional setup. The USSF must force the Islanders to either join the USL Pro Caribbean division or go to the Puerto Rican league. ”

    I always love when people say something is “embarrassing.” It’s not. Just stop. Get over your shame and the perceived shame of others.

    How is MLS competing with Puerto Rico? In the Champions League? Who cares? It’s a great big world out there, boychik.

    And you do realize that the Islanders couldn’t have joined USL in the first place without USSF’s blessing, right? That all of these cross-border arrangements have to be approved by the governing bodies involved?

    American soccer is being no more hurt by the Puerto Rico Islanders than by Toronto FC. My problem is that even if they DO have the financial wherewithal to meet the new standards, at some point you gotta sell tickets, and I’m not sure they can.

  34. MarcV permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I stand corrected. Thanks! One would think though that USL would advertise the 2011 USLPro entries on their website. They are probably waiting to reach critical mass, I guess. Then again, the NASL website isn’t too communicative about 2011 either…

  35. thesuperrookie permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Wayne, it is great that you recognized that our Rochester is better than your Rochester and moved accordingly.

  36. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @Craig: Boris the revolutionary is not coming back to the NASL next year. Or the year after that. He helped lead the breakway (if you will excuse the pun–by the way–when is the next episode of USL Breakaway?)–but there will be more beer league Kickball going on at the Silverbacks park than there will be men’s professional soccer.
    After he transfered Khandji’s rights to Carolina for a buck (that’s right–one, single solitary buck), he has pretty much been ghost.

    Maybe kartik and company will now cease and desist with the facade of including the 2011 Silverbacks banner when they list the NASL clubs.

    Seriously, enough already.

    Regarding Baltimore: I sincerely thank that Medds for everything that they did and tried to do. I have thanked them in person on numerous occasions. I am very attached to that club and would be thrilled if they managed to come back as a USLPRO team–but with all of the silliness that has taken place between the NASL and the USL, who knows if bridges can be mended.

    I loved and supported the team when it was a USL club and I loved it and supported it s as an NASL team.

    I just want to have a club. I’m still praying for a minor miracle. The ownership group is working hard. I hope that something good can happen to save the club. I’ve already been mourning it for months now, just trying to enjoy it while we have it. Last Saturday was the final home game of this season but I am really hoping that it was not the final game for the franchise. I’m still hoping…

  37. September 30, 2010

    USLsoccer It’s official. Dayton Dutch Lions join USL PRO http://bit.ly/bbuScn

  38. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @Tom: A higher end annual D2 budget can easily be 2 times the size of a D3 budget.

    Look at Charleston and Richmond. They self-relegated and they are didn’t take a big hit at the gate. Of course, they are the two gems of USLPRO and were the gems of the USL-2.

    This year Mr. Bell stated that the travel budget alone was someplace between $30k-40k.

    A second division travel budget was running them around $200k a year.

    D2 players expect to get paid more than the D3 players (although Charleston and Richmond were at the forefront of salaries for the division.

    This is just an example of what Wayne was alluding to. It wouldn’t surprise me if Clark decides to take Rochester to USLPRO. He’s not trying to lose a lot of ca$h.

    It would be ironic if the NASL tries to sue him (kind of like the USL was going to do to Baltimore and maybe one of the other clubs that bolted…

    In Puerto Rico and in Austin, playing D2 is very important to the ownership, they want to avoid playing D3 unless they are left with no other option. In PR the Islanders could always play in the PRSL (when that USL-NASL like civil war gets settled) but they see the PRSL as being useful to Islanders only if it is to field a farm/developmental club. They do not want to be anything less than a US league second division club if at all possible. The idea of playing in the USL PRO’s proposed Caribbean division does not appeal to them. They already have access to the CFU club championship. Heck, they won it this year.

  39. Tom permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @ yankiboy – thanks.
    So at the end of the day do you pretty much end up getting what you pay for?
    IMO, the issue that the NASL teams are going to run into is that their markets will not support D3 or soccer at that lower level. Might work for Charleston, Dayton, etc…, but major markets with big league sports like Tampa, MSP, Miami, etc will struggle to draw for what will be (if they are forced to go D3) a much lower level minor league.

  40. Bart permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Tom:

    I would disagree that certain D-2 markets would not support D-3 league play. Tampa is already losing fan attendance, and Miami fan attendance amounts to less than an audience of 500 fans.

    This is not about soccer, it is about soccer operation management. It is about good marketing and pr in the market they serve, it is about strong relationships within the market. Neither Tampa nor Miami have shown they can do that.

    The average fan, as with any sport, wants to come and have a good time, some fun, some excitement and a couple of beers. If the time spent is enjoyable, they will remember that and come back.

  41. ERic permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I have a hard time believing that Miami would draw any worse for D3 soccer.

  42. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @Tom: I am not being disrespectful of the Medds or the Baltimore organization’s ambitions and financial investments but I think that Baltimore (as crazy as it sounds) would be better off as a 3rd division market).

    And please don’t get me started on Tampa or Florida professional sports franchises. Tampa maybe needs a reality check. Longoria just got himself in trouble for speaking the truth about the Rays. Maybe AAA baseball would be a better fit for them. Maybe D3 wouldn’t be the end of the world, either…

    Especially if the NASL doesn’t get sanctioned and D3 gets bumped up to defacto D2 status…

  43. jmb321 permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Rochester Rhinos are back with USL.

    Not official but it might as well be since they have a press release on USLsoccer.com.
    http://www.uslsoccer.com/home/470112.html

    And their link from USLsoccer.com is also back up.
    http://www.uslsoccer.com/teams/2010%20Division%20II/22376.html#MAIN

    This is assured because when PR Islanders announced joining NASL their link and any pr releases halted immediately. Likewise over time when the other USL-1 teams left USL

  44. Craig permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @yankiboy – thanks for the 411. Hopefully Baltimore ends up in USL-Pro. What with so many “new” clubs next year, USL could always use a known team that has history with, and track record of success at, the D3 level (i.e. CP knows how to budget and plan for a regional D3 league).

  45. Jay permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I really wish for the sake of soccer in the USA and Canada that the USL and NASL would have worked together. Now all of our clubs will be split between two leagues. Great work as usual Gulati and USSF for ruining soccer!

  46. Tom permalink
    September 30, 2010

    So it sounds like there really isn’t a soccer market currently here in the US between MSL and a step above semi-pro? No disrespect, but if the choices are either major markets in MSL or the Charlestons, Daytons, Richmonds, Harrisburgs, etc… (with nothing in-between) then the US soccer market has a long developmental way to go – and maybe that’s just the way it currently should be.

  47. Grant Stephens permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @ Bart…I agree with everything you said in your last post, except that Tampa is ‘losing’ fans. They are at an average of 3,832 with virtually no marketing. They drew 3,006 to a meaningless game last Friday, and they expect that many for the game against Baltimore this Friday. I hate to sound knitpicky, but our attendance is directly influenced by weather, scheduling of other sports, and day of the week…not team results or lack of interest. We havent had a Saturday game since July, but have had Sunday evenings, two Thursdays, a Wednesday, and now two Friday’s (which should draw well!) I wouldnt worry too much about Tampa’s attendance, going forward…

    @ Yankiboy…comparing the Longoria debacle with D2 soccer is like comparing apples and oranges! We all know that the people that attend soccer matches are a niche crowd and vastly different than those attending Rays, Bucs, or Lightning games. I bet if you told the NASL brass that they would average 3,382 in an area that has 13.6 unemployment and one of the worst economic turnarounds in the country, they would be ecstatic! people from outside Tampa think they have a grasp on what happens here, but they dont…Thanks, Evan!

    Bottom line: Next year, FCTB puts a winner on the field, we get some weekend games, The Marketing improves, and he attendance hangs around 4,500-5,000…just watch!

  48. September 30, 2010

    jmb321. Great find! I am currently working on an explanation for this.

  49. Wayne permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Way to go jmb321! I think he’s right!!

  50. September 30, 2010

    They’ve already pulled the team page, BUT, I did screen captures of it so I have it for record. I am still checking into the matter with Rob Clark and USL.

  51. Jay permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I also have to blame Francisco Marcos for this situation. Of course USSF should never have left one man and a private umbrella organization to form, but you’d think at some point he’d understand that from the creation of the WPSL, NPSL and now NASL due to not wanting to be under a private company like the USL and have their own say – that he’d get the point already. Just run the Super Y-League Francisco and call it a day already and retire in Portugal and host clubs when they come to visit in Lisbon. Enough is enough. Your ambition and ego have now fractured the bottom of the entire USA/Canadian soccer pyramids and now you are after ruining the top of the pyramids in the Carribbean. Uckkkk already.

    Gulati and the USSF should have formulated a true pyramid and seperate entities that don’t overlap, because right now we have one gigantic mess in the entire sub-MLS level of USA/Canadian soccer.

    Gulati and Marcos – please exit stage left you’ve done enough damage!

  52. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @Grant…No doubt about it, I was definitely (and knowingly) comparing apples to oranges. I could have continued down to Miami.

    I think it is important for you to share the unemployment numbers because a lot of people are not aware of that fact.

    I have relatives that live in Tampa so I do have a bit of an idea on what life is like in the area. I would argue that Florida in general is a very, very difficult place to predict pro sports franshices support.

    That schedule you guys’ management signed off on was brutal. Absolutely brutal…

  53. smatthew permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @Tom I don’t know if that’s the way it “should be” but I’m of the opinion that’s the way it is. Which I don’t think is bad as long as we still have MLS and people willing to put money and effort into figuring out how to get lower division soccer to work in this country.

  54. thesuperrookie permalink
    September 30, 2010

    @grant- I want to believe as much as the next guy that FCTB is going to be a success, but don’t for a second tell me there were over 3,000 people at the NSC Stars game last week. At most there were 1500 and that is stretching it.

    Yes, if they put a winning team on the field they can draw 4-5,000 a game, but putting a winning team together is difficult. In addition, a better venue is needed (like a move to USF).

    I enjoy FCTB games and the supporter group there is well on its way to being a top notch association, but don’t for a second tell me they are getting good fan support at this time.

  55. Grant Stephens permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Yankiboy…you are right about that schedule! geez…there were whole months off without a home game. very discouraging and hard to build momentum…for the fans or the team! (side note…too bad you couldnt be down with family for the game tomorrow nite…I wouldve bought you a drink!)

    Its odd that most FCTB fans do have such optimism for the future considering our bleak economic living conditions. I think its that the soccer crowd here is very loyal, and the other sports fans are always looking for a ‘good deal’ (FCTB offers that!)

  56. Grant Stephens permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Superrookie…I would say that they are getting good attendance under the circumstances. Of course, they would want more (Who wouldnt!) but I think you’ll find these owners talking in terms of ‘minimum attendances’ and FCTB is nearer to that than further.

    As for the actual attendances…check here! http://ralphsmob.ning.com/forum/topics/attendance-1?xg_source=activity

    I look at this whole thing in these terms. We are maintaining the status quo here in Tampa. We have as bright a future as anyone in D2 soccer, and I think the ownership is understanding of that. In fairness to all the teams, I would like to see what they can do with a proper offseason and the advantage of having solid futures to look towards.

  57. yankiboy permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Grant, it was discussed but unfortunately it just didn’t work out for me to get down to see my local boys Baltimore or Puerto Rico Islanders (club that I have supported since 2004).

    I really hope to try and make it down next year.

    And the drink will be on me.

    Thanks!

  58. September 30, 2010

    “Miami FC is a Brazilian team. Foreign ownership should be banned from our leagues. All teams should be majority owned by Americans. 51% minimum. They should be disqualified unless or until they are owned by a taxpaying American citizen or corporation.”

    So we should take out Chivas USA and Red Bull NY then?

    “Puerto Rico needs to be eliminated. I think it is embarrassing for our top league, which should be our only sanctioned professional league, MLS to have to compete with a Caribbean team that is benefiting from our professional setup. The USSF must force the Islanders to either join the USL Pro Caribbean division or go to the Puerto Rican league.”

    Wow, first Miami, then Puerto Rico. Do I sense an anti-Hispanic bias? Will you next ask for the Austin Aztex to be removed because the name sounds Mexican? Remember the Alamo!

  59. fotbalist permalink
    September 30, 2010

    One of the sad aspects of Rochester going to USL Pro is that we would lose the Montreal Rochester rivalry for this year before Montreal moves up to MLS. Too bad!

    BUT, I don’t think we can count on anything being set in stone until teams take the pitch next season. I just have a feeling that this will drag on for a bit.

  60. Saverio permalink
    October 1, 2010

    One of the problems that is facing second and third tier soccer in both the US and Canada is that the soccer pyramid is currently inverted. At the top we will have eventually have 20 teams, below with the NASL and USL Pro we will have fewer and fewer teams. It seems that both the USSF and CSF haven’t paid much attention to fourth tier of soccer in their respective countries. I believe that the viability of D2 and D3 soccer lie in the strength of D4 and D5. The question to be asked is– will D2 soccer survive at the (inter)national level or will it need to go regional. Will there be a big enough fan base to support the travel, wage and other expenses associated with a national league. With Vancouver, Portland and eventually Montreal moving on up to the MLS, will the remaining teams be able to draw sufficient crowds to cover expenses. Will NASL and/or USLPRO be deemed to be of a caliber to be at D2?

    Tom is correct when he questions ”So it sounds like there really isn’t a soccer market currently here in the US between MSL and a step above semi-pro?”

    There are a number of communities where soccer is viable. Where I live, there is a very successful PDL team. The product on the field is good, Attendance (for PDL) is excellent, the potential for growth is high and the management knows what they are doing. The problem for our team now is that it looks like there are no viable options to move into a higher tier of soccer. The problem – the shape of the pyramid. At some point the USSF needs to step in and stop the squabbling and think in a holistic manner and develop the pyramid.

  61. yankiboy permalink
    October 1, 2010

    @Deacon Joseph: I am hoping that the comments were more tounge in cheek than serious about the ownership.

    While it may possibly be a protectionist thing (which I think is misguided) or quite possibily xenophobic thing (and I really hope that it’s not), let’s not make it an ethnic or racial thing.

    I could be wrong, I think the same guy has previously called into question the number of Canadian teams and Brazilians, are of course not Hispanic.

    Not trying to be a smart alec.

    I’d love a clarification, myself.

  62. Sounder74 permalink
    October 1, 2010

    Just a question why is it so bad for a team to dropping to D3? and why did the NASL put in a half a$$ bid knowing that they only have 6 team and half are out the U.S not meeting the 75% clause or the 8 team to start a team rule. I agree I am thankful this problem happen it’s making a change, but I going pull on out of left field again by saying do we really need a D2 what are the stats of how many of those players make it to MLS? Please correct me if I am wrong. I’m taking it that most are most of the player are coming form collage, PDL, and D3. We are trying to rethink lower level soccer maybe we are looking of a answer to question that has already been answer. Look at collage foot ball, MLB system, and MBA system. They use collage player, a farm system to grow player, and reserve league do the answers have to be D2 or D3. Why do people think that a system has to be the end all of thing, hello the blue prints are their already. There is only one football, baseball , Basketball League, maybe we shouldn’t fix the system maybe the system is the problem, If we do what these franchises do and tweak it a little we might find something that works of ever one. Say what you want but all three of the franchises they’re not doing that bad. It time to smooth the system out and I not saying get rid of the team just the format the play in and it will take time to do. This is all just I a thought I want people to think outside the box and not just though the there team or league loyalties. I will leave to the message board for your thought.

  63. yankiboy permalink
    October 1, 2010

    @Sounder74: I am trying to follow your post. Are you saying that there is only one football, baseball and basketball league?

    In pro football there are currently two (NFL and the much smaller, lesser known UFL). Below the NBA there are a lot of minor league basketball leagues that compete (for a lack of a better word) with the NBA, The PBL, the ABA, ACPL, UBL, WCPBL, WBA. There are a lot. It makes what we are dealing with in soccer look like less of a disaster.

    The baseball farm system comparison, I understand. I also understand the idea of bringing back the MLS Reserve league.

    I do think that there are some valuable lessons to be learned from observing the franchise management practices for the sports that you mentioned but for player development, i don’t really think that there is much that can be learned about player development outside of the possibly baseball model (which involves a lot of money to manage the clubs US and foreign farm systems and a very different set of economic factors.

    I do think that there does need to be some non traditional thinking when it comes to pro soccer in this country. I agree with you on that. But with so many failures, many of the “bright” ideas have already been tried in different markets several times over and proved to be insufficient but of course, that does not mean that we should just give up. Markets are different.

    By the way, off topic: I hope that we cleared up the matter on whether or not I think that you are a dedicated supporter or not. I never doubted it. I was contrasting you from all of the Johnny Come Lately Rave green Geniuses who now want to share their brilliant and oversimplified takes over the airwaves and in electronic forums.

    I never thought that you were one of those (annoying) types.

    Just want to set the record straight.

  64. Sounder74 permalink
    October 1, 2010

    @ yankiboy Your right I did make myself clear I think I over complicated it. What I was trying to say is may be we can have different structures’ of play but under on entity using those franchise attributes in what ever way that works. The part play a role and no more and no less. It won’t not matter if they are call one or two they are all under one umbrella no more power struggle and more and productive . For example I would guest

    Academy Academy
    Collage Academy /Collage
    MLS 2 PDL
    MLS Reserve league
    MLS

    They’re many possibilities. And no worries no hard feeling. I just totally miss read you, and the hooligan footballs fan came ou.t I over jump the gun. I agree there are a lot of miss informed causal fans with s out their and we have to change their way of thinking one causal fan at a time, but that another whole conversion in it self that we should talk about.

  65. Coppercanuck permalink
    October 3, 2010

    I have to agree that some of these issues start at the foundation, D4. The same this is happening in Canada but I’ll focus of the USA. In 2010, there were 98 PDL and NPSL teams. The NPSL played in 5 regional divisions and the PDL in 8. The real work needs to be done at this level. Develop these clubs; facilities, academies, pro style teams. I think 8 regional divisions at the D4 level of the USA is a good number. Combine it up to 4 regional divisions at the D3 level. Set the D3 standards and encourage teams in the D4 to apply for promotion to the D3. Keep the standards at a high level, 4 divisions of 8 teams each, minimum stadium standards, reserve and academy teams; and relegate the bottom team back to D4 each year. Make it a privilege not a right to be in D3. Make all the expansion happen at the D4 level and teams must play their way up. Teams like FC New York have been working for 2 season to get a team on the field anyway. The may as well have been playing in the D4 building the brand, media relations, fan base and sponsorships.

    The same thing can then be done at the D2 level. Once teams can support the expenses required at the D3 level they might be ready to join the D2. I would rather see a 2 regional division setup for the D2 rather than a national / continental system. PR to VAN seems crazy. It will be very interesting going forward to see how all the “alphabet soup” of relationships shake down. USSF D2, USL Pro, USL Pro Carib, PDL, NPSL, USASA, NCAA, NASL. Probably over 300 teams, all with the same goals of developing players to be the best they can be and providing an entertaining product on the field for the local market. The problem they are all rowing the boat in different directions.

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