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US Soccer Says “Financial Requirements” Main Reason for Denial of Sanctioning of NASL

2011 January 21
by Brian Quarstad

IMS spoke with U.S. Soccer’s Neil Buethe late Friday afternoon. The USSF Media Relations Director confirmed that US Soccer had made a decision not to sanction the North American Soccer League for Division 2 pro soccer at this time.

“The NASL was granted provisional sanctioning on November 21 of last year,” explained Buethe. “At that time there were some waivers that NASL had requested. At the same time the board required site visits to certain teams, completion of financial audits and a few other financial requirements. Since then there’s been significant material changes in respect to NASL’s application. As a result the board, after careful consideration, decided not to sanction the NASL as a Division 2 professional league.”

Buethe explained that a review committee of Carlos Cordeiro, Executive Vice President Mike Edwards and Secretary General Dan Flynn presented their findings to the board on Thursday and the board made the decision not to sanction the NASL.

“The biggest hurdle was really some of the financial requirements,” said Buethe.  He also said there where issues regarding ownership and organizational details to make sure the league was prepared to start the season, which is less than 3 months away.

“An unstable league or team can damage the market place and the sport overall if teams fold or have financial issues,” said Buethe. When pressed on the details of those financial requirements that were not met Buethe said he would not get into specifics or teams.

Buethe went on to explain that the USSF realized the need for enhanced pro league standards to help the long term stability of the league and the teams in the league.

“We wanted to create these professional league standards so we could ensure the long term stability of the leagues,” said Buethe. “Those standards were adapted in August. NASL was hoping we could waive one or two of those. When everything was looked at we said overall they are not meeting those standards that were set. We need to stick with those standards, there’s a reason why we made them. We’ve seen in the past that not following those standards sometimes can create issues when teams have financial problems.”

Buethe said the NASL had several options. One would be to reapply for D2 sanctioning any time it feels it meets those standards. Another option would be to apply for D3 sanctioning which would be separate from USL PRO. Buethe said it appeared that the NASL would fulfill those D3 standards if that’s the direction they wanted to go.

Note: Currently there are no specific D3 standards as there are for D2. There are general standards that all pro teams playing under the USSF umbrella must meet, but nothing specific to D3. IMS has been pressing US Soccer for a completion date of those D3 standards the federation said they were looking into last summer. After numerous inquiries about those dates US Soccer says it still does not have a completion date for those standards. Standards that IMS feel are important to ensure the long term stability to the league and its teams.

17 Responses
  1. popeye permalink
    January 21, 2011

    I guess this is the exact reason USSF created these minimum standards that the NASL also promoted for “stability” at this level…sadly, the league cannot meet the standards and the fact that half the league is under financial bailout from one club is troublesome to that stability.

    They should just play an “exhibition season” while they attempt to find more suitable owners. It may take some time but if the “right owners” are found, that is what will make this div viable and stable. The concept of the NASL between MLS and USL makes sense but it has to be viable and well backed…and, not by a team the others compete with…think long term everyone!

  2. James permalink
    January 22, 2011

    When the D2 standards first came out I wondered if any league in the US could ever meet them.

    It more and more likely that we may never get a league that can satisfy all the requirements that the USSF has set forth.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

    My guess is that the NASL goes for D3 sanctioning for 2011 with hopes of getting D2 sanctioning sometime in the future.

  3. yankiboy permalink
    January 22, 2011

    The NASL meets nonspecified D3 standards says Mr. Mouthpiece.
    Really funny since those, as BQ points out–have never clearly been defined.

    LA Pali Blues of the W-League probably meets those unknown, unclarified standards.

    This bad joke gets dumber and dumber with each passing moment.

  4. Bart permalink
    January 22, 2011

    Folks, actually there are D3 standards, and they are part of the USSF regulations. So now the answer is to increase the D3 standards? That may also place D3 in jeopardy, much like NASL’s quest for D2, UNLESS the game plan is to take those “not quite ready for prime time D2 team owners” and turn them into D3, so NASL and USL can continue the fight for world conquest of soccer.

    When does the madness end???

  5. January 22, 2011

    Bart, I’ve never disagreed with you more.

    First, show the D3 standards please. You may be correct, but US Soccer has told me there are only the general standards that I have already pointed out in this article. If there are specific D3 standards than why are they not made public and why is US Soccer telling me there are only general standards.

    Secondly, if there were certain financial standards, certainly not anything like what we are seeing in D2, but some standards that are appropriate, perhaps we wouldn’t see teams added or moved up from a PDL level just for that league to fill out its quota of teams. Is that sustainable? Is that for the good of the league and its team? Isn’t that what US Soccer just said they want for their leagues? In fact, its pretty much what I’ve seen you write in the comments on this very site.

    I hope like hell that all those Puerto Rican teams are still around next year at this time, but I’m guessing not all of them are going to make it. So we should allow whomever can come up with the franchise fee, even if it may be partial paid by someone else or the league owners, to be able to play for a single season? That sounds just like another scenario you’re presently complaining about.

    In summary, you’re telling me that setting some standards for ownership at D3 would be mad and that it would place the league in jeopardy? So be it if it’s for the betterment of the game in the US and long term stability to a league that has been anything but stable in regard to it’s teams. Oh, we’re talking D3 and not D2 … or are we? I’m confused as to what league we get to set standards for and what league we allow to do whatever they want beside playing on a field that has the proper dimensions.

  6. January 22, 2011

    @yankiboy and popeye Spot on both of you.

    @Bart You claim to be impartial, but you hate the NASL at every turn, and you love the USL even when they make mistakes. You are as unbiased as Ann Coulter. You do not not, and have never, wanted the NASL to succeed. Why is that?

    I would love to see Division II succeed with independent owners who are willing to go long term in a sport that is slowly picking up steam. I have one complaint and that is the %75 U.S. rule. I wouldn’t mind it if the league had twenty teams, but Canada has a better economy currently and pro sport starved fans. I know I am tooting my own horn, but if it showed owners having successful franchises then more businesses and business owners will take that gamble. Right now it feels as if the USSF is scaring away the very things it demands. Maybe let the league be healthy at six teams? Next year add more that meet the requirements. Maybe great teams, with great markets, like Charleston, Rochester, and Richmond could go up. I would rather see teams go up and down then disappear altogether. As a fan I am going to start demanding That the USL and NASL sides work together. Sure my opinion carries no weight with them, but I am sick of you Bart. You are cancer to soccer in North America.

  7. Bart permalink
    January 22, 2011


    Actually there is a written USSF distinction between each of the Professional Standards between D1/D2 and D3. As is obvious, as one moves down the ranks, the standards become deviate as the intent of USSF is to in fact have different levels, or standards if you will, so that soccer can be penetrated into different markets. What is good for Chicago is not necessarily good for Richmond.

    My comment on when will the madness end was admittedly somewhat tongue in cheek, but before we start throwing the baby out with the bathwater, let’s look at the obvious:

    Unlike D2, the individual teams that are what we would call the founding fathers of professional soccer in this country reside at USL Pro (D3). Charleston and Richmond will be celebrating their 20th year of professional soccer next year, with Charlotte and Harrisburg not far behind. Rochester is in its 15th year. In fact the D3 teams from last year all have multiple years of organized professional soccer under their belt.

    Hell, I would argue that USL Pro at the founding father level is more stable and certainly has longer longevity than that young puppy of a league we call MLS. So if sustainability is a requirement, the teams of D3 have proven that in spades.

    Now, let’s look at the International division of USL Pro. Admittedly, from a US based perspective, it looks crazy and shortsighted for USL to have even dared to dream to open up these teams in USL Pro. But let’s wait a minute here. For those of you that do not know how it is done in PR, politics plays a major role in the success of those teams, with Mayors of PR cities not only providing very decent stipends to each team, but also providing municipal financing for 15,000 fan stadiums. If you have never been to PR, you might be interested to know that San Juan could be an even busier business city than New York. It is a happening place, and PR is a lot bigger island than most imagine. If it IS the goal for USL to have an International Division, this would be the clear building block for a launch into South America and the Caribbean. Ultimately, if I was USL, this would be a separate league in and of itself.

    So, under the current D3 standards, if you look a little under the bushes, USL appears to have a pretty strong bunch of long standing teams with a strategy of moving this into coast to coast divisions. I believe they should have done this years ago, as opposed to fighting with a bunch of TOA wannabees (but hey, Wellman is gone already) that have yet to understand what it is they really want.

    And for those of you that think D2 is the ultimate nirvana below MLS, you should have listened to Andrew Bell of the Charleston Battery today on Jeff DiVeronica’s Kick This show. He stated that the Battery, by moving to D3, have been the most profitable they have been in the last 10 years. And this team has its own specialty stadium that even MLS would drool over, not to mention the fact that they have been around longer than MLS.

    These teams are where they are for a reason. They made the choice, and to assume that once everything is “stablized” at D2, that they would jump at the opportunity to be with the big boys is an extreme fallacy. The Rochester/Charleston/Charlotte/Harrisburg/Richmond groups like where they are, it works for them.

    Someone on one of the recent threads made mention that MLS was a European country’s D2. That may be so. And if this is so, having a “mini-me” MLS at the USSF D2 level can certainly be cause for failure, as there can be only on Sheriff in town, and at the moment, that is MLS. And it should be MLS.

    I am not an NASL hater or a pro USL lover. I am a believer in reality and a strong balance for long term love of the sport and with that a desire to see soccer penetrate both sides of the country.

    A lot of things that occured prior to the NuRock Soccer Holdings acquisition of USL were things that one can place the blame on Nike and on Umbro. I will say that the USL decision to focus on USL Pro way back in August/September gave them a lot of time to prepare for the 2011 season, which is far smarter than anything that NASL has been able to do.

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he is all around you, he is the spirit of the season. The soccer season that is.

    NASL is more like the saying, of Going Boldly Where No Man Has Gone Before, largely because they have never been there before. And for that matter, while I am on the soap box (my wife left to buy groceries, so she gave me more computer time because I have been good after all the beatings) what in the world is the NASL response to the USSF denial all about? To claim now that they have been working for 4 years to create a more stable league than USL could have done is nothing more than whiny bashing from a group that only has 4 teams that meet threshold. NASL knows the rules of the game if they want to play in D2. They need to adhere to them and not BS everyone, which just destroys their credibility.

    I have heard that Davidson is a charming and witty man. So are most snake oil salespersons. Folks, his job is on the line because of his decisions at this point. The boys in Brazil cannot be happy with the his guidance of that American ship called Traffic USA.

    At the end of the day, I hope a strong and stable group comes forward and takes over D2 and makes it what it should be. And that needs to be 8 teams that are not reliant on a foreign corporation to fund 50% of them.

  8. January 22, 2011

    Bart, you again claim there are standards for D3 while even the USSF says there are not.

    Why are we to believe your statements over theirs?

  9. rjhtpr permalink
    January 22, 2011

    “For those of you that do not know how it is done in PR, politics plays a major role in the success of those teams, with Mayors of PR cities not only providing very decent stipends to each team, but also providing municipal financing for 15,000 fan stadiums. If you have never been to PR, you might be interested to know that San Juan could be an even busier business city than New York. It is a happening place, and PR is a lot bigger island than most imagine.”

    @Bart: Great info on Puerto Rico, the only thing is that none of the USLPro teams will play near the San Juan Metro area, RiverPR (last I heard they will play in Fajardo, which is the east coast of PR), Sevilla PR in Juncos (let’s say near the middle and east coast), and PR United in Aguada (west coast). The Islanders are the only team that (hopefully) plays in the Metro area.

    While your statements on the politics in Puerto Rico are true; local politicians are known for throwing big bucks at teams (case in point: Bayamón and the Islanders), there are also other aspects that could affect the success of these USLPro teams, like a local economy that’s in the crapper, a shrinking middle class, small pool of companies that sponsor the sport, and the fact that these teams will also play in the local Puerto Rico Soccer League and some in the Caribbean Club Championship.

    I’m hoping for the best on all sides here, but whether it is NASL or USLPro, all teams are going to lose big bucks in 2011. Sadly for us Puerto Ricans the first one to be affected and probably die out (if not already) will be our flimsy Puerto Rico Soccer league.

  10. Bart permalink
    January 23, 2011


    An economy in the crapper is a global problem at this point, not just localized to the Island. Even in the smaller cities, the politics go on, and this can greatly help subsidize a team, far more so than any benefits a US based team will get.

    @Dave Clark

    A word of advice…. Do not believe what anyone else tells you to be true or factual, unless you personally know it to be true and factual or you have taken the time to research what has been said to prove the validity of what was saying as true or factual.

    In this case, the written rules of US Soccer delineate the different standards of each league.

  11. January 23, 2011

    I didn’t ask you for a philosophy lesson.

    I asked you to prove a statement you made that USSF has specifically denied about their own organization.

    You can not do so.

  12. Bart permalink
    January 24, 2011

    @Dave Clark

    Go to the US Soccer website. Don’t ask me, do your own research. The standards for each Professional Division are contained in the records.

    Sounds like you did not learn or understand the lesson anyway.

  13. southsidered permalink
    January 24, 2011

    Ah, the last resort of the Internet loudmouth who can’t back up his talk: “do your own research”.

    OK, this question is settled. The evidence shows that ther are are no specific D3 standards. Let’s move on.

  14. Orange Trooper permalink
    January 24, 2011

    Hey Bart! Loved the note on Puerto Rico teams… I am from PR and indeed… PR is a hapenning place far better market than many spots out there.

    Puerto Rico Islanders (PRI) definitively one of the top teams in the region (CONCACAF). Actually the best performing Div2 in the entire CONCACAF if we want to look at the stats.

    I am greatly concerned of this whole NASL deal… PRI has grown so much… CFU Champions 2010, DIV2 Champions 2010… it almost seems as if this was some mad conspirance agaist them dang it!

    GO TROPA!!!

  15. Bart permalink
    January 24, 2011


    You would make for a lousy lawyer. No evidence has been presented that is contrary to my statement, and further as I stated earlier, one can find the information on the website.

    I just have not had time to find it and present it to you, but then again, I was not aware I had a Judge on the case.

    I will state it again, there are different standards for each of the three professional leagues. You may not like them, or you may think they are too generic, but there are three different standards, and these can be found on the US Soccer website.

  16. January 24, 2011


    I was told by US Soccer that there was no delineation between D2 and D3 up until the time that the new standards were set for D3. Are you telling me that US Soccer lied to me? If you can find that I would be interested because as much as I like US Soccer’s website, they don’t make it easy to find things like this.

    Orange Trooper,

    I’m told that your team is one of the reasons that US Soccer rejected the NASL bid. They’ve done a great job on the field but a lousy job of marketing and being organized at a high level that is needed these days to be a D2 team with the new standards. I think the Islanders are great but I have a number of friends that are from PR and they tell me the same thing. The team needs to spend the time and effort to step it up a notch with the new expectations of US Soccer at the D2 level.

  17. Bart permalink
    January 24, 2011

    Brian, I am sure that US Soccer would never intentionally lie to you, and I agree, the US Soccer website is a horrible place to locate certain items. That is one reason I was hoping to lay off this job to someone else :).

    Under a section I reviewed last year in Rules and Regulations, which I am loathe to find right now, it breaks out the differences between D1/D2/D3 requirements. I will continue to look, once I have some real time.

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