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NASL Taking Proactive Stance on Schedule Announcement

2011 January 25
by Gerry Wittmann

I am happy that the NASL is taking a proactive stance after the USSF revoked their preliminary sanction for D2 soccer last week. The NASL under Aaron Davidson and Traffic Sports is currently working with the USSF to regain sanctioning in time for 2011 action as the D2 league in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

Let’s not forget our American soccer history. After six seasons of play on the field, our top tier league, MLS, had to contract two teams in 2002 and the remaining ten teams were controlled by three groups of individuals — Philip Anschutz, the Hunt family and Robert Kraft (Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment shared control of the San Jose Earthquakes with Anschutz for the 2002 season.) Investing in professional soccer is a daunting task in North America, as the beautiful game fights for breathing space and revenue in a crowded atmosphere that includes long-established sports entities as the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NHL and NBA, not to mention NASCAR and college football and basketball with their legions of followers. To find stability and growth in that atmosphere in the toughest economic times since the Great Depression is truly an uphill task.

I hope all three entities, MLS, the NASL and USL PRO find success and growth during 2011. We have the potential to now have three clearly delineated divisions of men’s professional soccer in North America. Although everyone is free to advocate the superiority of each model over one or both of the others, it would probably be in the best interests of our sport’s growth to tone down the rhetoric and find a level of cooperation instead of bickering. The growth of the game is best served by viable franchises in numerous cities, but genuine stability and tradition take decades to establish, not years.

The NASL press release regarding the schedule is here.

32 Responses
  1. Bart permalink
    January 25, 2011

    Ahh, now we have the same propaganda spiel that the NASL Fanatic tripe was all about. I am going to get bastardized for this, but this is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to guide the public into the cause without any relationship to the facts.

    The IMS standards just went down, in my opinion.

    Ok, I am now spread eagle, with my belly exposed. Please make sure the knives are sharp and your aim is merciful and swift.

  2. chickenhead permalink
    January 25, 2011

    Speaking as someone who lost my team this season (AC STL) I hope NASL gets sanctioned at least for this season. The long term will work itself out, but I think US soccer benefits from having D1, D2, and D3. If NASL can’t make it then they will fade away and maybe USL Pro will step up to D2, but if their model ends up working then how can it be a bad thing?

  3. Darren permalink
    January 25, 2011

    It almost seems as though US Soccer wants NASL to fail. How do you give your approval in November and rip it away in January? Yeah, I read it — still don’t believe it. I’m sure there’s all kinds of politicking in the backdrop. USL sure faded into the background without much of a fuss. Let NASL get on with their season and their marketing without this rain cloud over their heads.

  4. Ultra permalink
    January 25, 2011

    @ Bart

    Give it a rest already chief. It says “commentary” in big bold letters at the top. Can’t a soccer fan share his opinion without being labeled a propagandist?

    There are soccer fans in 8 markets(counting San Antonio) that love their local teams and are worried about those clubs’ futures(MontrĂ©al is going to MLS so in the end those fans probably won’t care one way or the other what happens to NASL). We are all concerned about the state of lower division soccer in North America. You can spout the “for the good of the sport” crap all day long, and tough decisions that can drastically effect the sport and it’s teams sometimes need to be made by those in position to make them. BUT, at the end of the day if you lose something you love, it hurts like hell, just ask MLS fans in here Florida. If you’re not effected by it, it’s damn easy to say that MLS needed to contract or NASL needs to be denied sanctioning because that’s what’s for the greater good.

    But when it’s your favorite club that gets the short straw it’s not so easy. So please excuse us folks in South Florida, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Carolina, Edmonton, Minnesota, Puerto Rico and San Antonio if we rally behind the NASL cause because we love soccer and right now it’s all we’ve got.

  5. sylvain permalink
    January 25, 2011

    @ utra

    fom a MontrĂ©al fan… saputo said he would like to keep a team in NASL probably as a reserve team … Vancouver the same the only problem is the MLS rules…..

    L’avenir nous le dira…..

  6. Dan permalink
    January 25, 2011

    Ultra said it best and the fact of the matter is the Bickering needs to stop.

  7. Bart permalink
    January 25, 2011

    @ Ultra

    At the end of the day, this is not about you or your feigned alliance with the NASL world. This should be about what is best for soccer in the US long term and how USSF can best build the penetration of soccer throughout the US.

    This short term fascination on current existing possible markets, when BQ has so eloquently pointed out that there are dozens of markets that have had failed teams makes this interest point irrelevant.

    The quest to state that NASL is the now unproven entity, so let’s go ahead and trust a group that up to this point has completely failed, over the years, to properly run FC Miami is inconceivable to me. I have more respect for the owner Selby Wellman of Carolina, he tried to run the club correctly. Davidson and Traffic never put the effort together just once.

    Behavior patterns exist because history has a tendency to consistently repeat itself.

    Why not give USSF the latitude to guide soccer as it is supposed to do?

  8. Tom permalink
    January 25, 2011

    @chickenhead, USL Pro will most likely never step up to D2 for the same reasons that NASL is currently having difficulties in meeting the new USSF D2 standards. They are D3 and even if NASL fails, they will still be D3.

  9. January 25, 2011

    I wrote the commentary today based on three observations. First, the bickering between backers of USL and NASL supporters just gets tiring. Secondly, I follow the Bundesliga closely, and the third impetus for writing the commentary was watching the Asian Cup semi-final between Japan and South Korea.

    The amount of young talent currently playing in the Bundesliga is simply jaw-dropping. An 18 year-old Mario Gotze ran circles around opponents two weeks ago for Borussia Dortmund, while 17 year-old Julian Draxler won today’s Cup clash between Schalke and Nurnberg at the end of ET with a bullet shot taken with the poise of a seasoned veteran, and it doesn’t end with these two players…Mats Hummels, Sven Bender, Lewis Holtby, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and on and on…are all 22 years old or younger and playing regular in arguably the world’s most competitive league. The German football federaton invests heavily in player development.

    The Japan-S. Korea match was a classic of well-played, flowing soccer featuring many young players. (Well the penalty kick taking during the shoot-out was less than world-class). Shinji Kagawa, one of Japan’s brightest stars, came from Japan’s D2 and now stars in Germany at age 21, as does Japan defender Astuto Uchida, 22. Investment in player development in Japan is growing too, and the results are becoming more and more apparent.

    My point is, while other nations build their national programs and youth academies, we continue to bicker on and on about the “right” model for our professional leagues. We need USSF guidelines to not continually run into under-financed franchises that hurt the markets they fail in, but if the guidelines are too stringent, we won’t have enough teams to grow the sport by (1) providing playing and coaching opportunities for more individuals, and (2) having local teams that fans can become enthusiastic about. (Following team’s on TV as opposed to going to root for your local team with friends are two different experiences).

    I’m not so naive to think that many D2 and D3 players will play roles on our national team, but a few will, and when many retire they will bring the experience of professional training and play to coaching, whether they coach at the professional level, college, community college or high school levels, with club teams or just help out on weekends with their young children’s school or church team, and help boost the level of instruction that young American’ receive.

    The point is….we can be proud of our USMNT and the growth they have displayed since the 1990 World Cup, but other countries have plenty of talent, too….not only traditonal powers like Germany but “middle-tier” soccer nations like Japan and S. Korea. If the US wants to progress on the international stage, we need a solid professional pyramid. We haven’t really had one so clearly delineated as we can have now, so I suggest we be open-minded concerning competing models and give them the chance to succeed.

  10. Strikers Return permalink
    January 25, 2011

    @Gerry – Great commentary. I too follow the Bundesliga to some degree, and I think your points are well-made. To have the MNT become more then an also-ran at World level competitions, the entire sport at every level needs to continue growing here. It’s not coincidence that all the soccer powers of the world have domestic leagues with quality players playing below division 1 as they develop their game and mature. People scoffed at Buddle for going to a D2 German club, but I applaud the move. He’ll see just as good if not better players there then he did in MLS.

    But even more then all that, I just want to be able to go to Lockhart and watch the Strikers (better be the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers!!) play, and to introduce my son to the game the same way I was back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

  11. Grant Stephens permalink
    January 25, 2011

    @ Ultra…Awesome post! You said it perfectly! We can hash and re-hash all of this, but in the end, I have The NASL putting on soccer games (supposedly) in my area and I want to support it. If it goes away, Ill deal with it then, but in the meantime I want to ENJOY my new schedule. FCTB here I come!

    @ Strikers Return…I agree with you 100% about wanting to go to Lockhart with your kid. Thats what it should be about! My cousin was from Ft. LAuderdale and he grew up a Striker-Liker and when he would visit us in the Tampa Area, we would replay shootouts with him being either Ray Hudson or Mausser, while I was Winston DuBose (of course…I’d take him now!), Iron Mike Connell or Wes McLeod. It was a great feeling to be a part of that back in the day, and it has to get out support again. Cant wait to see it! Funny thing was when I called that cousin to tell him about the games coming up between The Strikers and FCTB. He was shocked both teams existed, but was excited and interested to see it! Have to note that he hadnt heard of, or care about, sanctioning at the second division level. How ideal.

    @ Gerry…I very much agree with your commentary, and must say that your post about The Bundesliga has inspired me to give a better look. My knowledge of Germany’s structure is poor as I know only the big dogs in Bundesliga 1. I have Gol TV and its on there quite a bit, so Ill check it out. Thanks! And thanks for calling for an end to the trash talk. Its ridiculous. We have shown that we love soccer/football, so why hope for its demise? Ive always said that you should like all US leagues’…because you dont know which one you’ll end up in!


  12. sedlie permalink
    January 26, 2011

    I have to agree with Bart’s first post. Before I even finished reading this article, it had me searching for an rss feed that would show me only articles that Brian writes. (I didn’t find one.) After first reading Gerry’s description of the USL Pro Playoff format which made no sense until I read Brian’s comment that summed it up in a simple list, then reading Gerry’s rah-rahhing all things NASL in the “schedule has been released article”, and now this one, it really doesn’t make me want to come back here to read about D2/3. And that’s unfortunate because it is one of THE places to go for that kind of info.

  13. January 26, 2011

    *laughs* We should all have to register, much like on a forum, to comment on this site. I almost am tempted to accuse “sedlie” of having the same IP address of Bart.

  14. sedlie permalink
    January 26, 2011

    Daniel, you are a fool. How ’bout you come on down to Minnesota and I’ll show you I’m not Bart.

  15. szazzy permalink
    January 26, 2011

    Thanks for all of your work covering the game – especially the lower levels. I’m in a MLS market, but this country is too big for MLS to be everywhere.

    In terms of breaking stories, quality writing, and perspective, I’d put this site in the top 5 of American soccer sites, and I’ve read them all.

    I’m not sure what the best course is for D2 soccer – mainly wanted to leave a note to say keep up the good work. I’ve been reading for a long time, and will continue to in the future.

  16. January 26, 2011

    Hey sedlie, calm down and I’ll hopefully buy you a cold beverage in the beer garden if the Stars get to play again this year. I deleted the last part of your comment as this is supposed to be site of constructive debate and personal attacks are not part of that.

    Daniel, same goes dude.

    I feel like I’m dealing with a bunch of senators here. Come on boys, play nice.

  17. paul permalink
    January 26, 2011

    If the NASL isn’t sanctioned as D-2 by USSF, is there a chance they just become an “affiliated” league for 2011 with the mindset to reapply for D-2 for 2012? I know they’ve basically said it’s “D-2 or bust,” but going this road would allow them to function without being labeled as D-3.

  18. Strikers Return permalink
    January 26, 2011

    @Grant – That’s a good story about you and your cousin as kids. The Rowdies and Strikers brands do still have an attraction, the clubs just HAVE to get to work putting the word out in our communities. There is untapped potential, for both the clubs as well as pro soccer in general if the money is spent to make people aware.

    @sedlie – A bit harsh in your comments. Gerry has written all of a handful of articles here, so I’m not sure how you can be critical at this point. Particularly because your criticism seems aimed at his opinions (there is that bold-faced Commentary word up at the top) which you obviously don’t agree with. Attacking him personally and by proxy this very informative forum BQ runs is a bit of a low blow in my book. Now he’s someone who puts his literary work out here for exposure to us the masses, but I still don’t see the need for being so harsh.

    @paul – My feeling on the situation is that the league is going to have to go forward at this point, D2 sanctioning or not. I know Davidson has said D2 is all they are interested in, but he has to say that at this point. If it comes down to it, the league needs to protect the teams and the players as best they can, which means running a USSF sanctioned league, be it D3 or whatever this other “affliated” business means. The cost in time, money, and work spent on the league is too great at this point to just quit.

    @BQ – I’m a little scared by your comment of “if” the Stars play this year. Do you know something you haven’t shared with us yet?!?

  19. yankiboy permalink
    January 26, 2011

    @Gerry W-Nice contributione. An enjoyable read.

    However, I strongly disagree with you on point about the bickering:

    Those in power, in positions to affect some change–they need to tone down the rhetoric and they need to demonstrate more cooperation for the good of the game when possible–understanding that they are all business with their own interests and that at times they are going to have to mark their territory.

    The people who post on line and are USL or NASL suppporters or clowns like me who happen to want to see both succeed but won’t hesitate to call both out when they are selling me a pound of stupid cake topped with with crazy sprinkles when I am in fact just looking to buy a few slices of “let’s just keep it real, Playah” pie– I’m going to continue to call them out.

    I’m going to continue to call out people here posting with very misinformed or ridiculous takes (eg: like Crystl Palace Baltimore being a problem created by the USL or Palace’s (London) administration or posters here spreading “lies” about the NASL.

    I’m still going to call out Bart about implying or inferring that I am a NASL mouthpiece and not addressing it (unless I missed it) when I call him out.

    Bickering between the posters here–sure it can get tiresome. But with all due respect, I’m just glad that their are 15 people who actually care enough to spend time telling each other how deslusional they are when it comes to the subject. At a certain point, the debate is the only option that I have left as a fan other than to use my purcha$ing power and buy some tickets.

    I’m not for insulting people but I am all for spirited debate. If that manifests itself as “bickering” then hey, I am all for it.

    I’m just glad somebody cares, no matter how silly their takes are. The sillier ones provide great comic relief (Strikers Return–your royaly check is in the mail since I paraphrased your line).

  20. yankiboy permalink
    January 26, 2011

    @Sedlie: Listen Playah:

    I’m not going to Minnesota unless you send me a recent picture (I want to have an idea if I have a chance just in case you were inviting Daniel to throwdown).

    If were offering Daniel an all expense paid trip to MN, acting as goodwill ambassador and you are gonna help a Brutha out with his airfare, promise me that it won’t snow and don’t force me to go visit the Mall of America (I don’t like big crowds that is why I follow lowers US division soccer), or attend any timeshare presentations–then hey–sign me up.

    I’m always looking for a scholarship when it comes to cross-cultural exchanges.

    Seriously,Playah–you aren’t the first guy to lose him cool and act like he lost his freakin’ mind on an electroninc forum.

    Many years ago, over on usldiscussions I once offered another “forum participant” from the Virginia Beach area an inviation to meet me someplace on I-95 so that we could have a “meeting” to try and resolve our “disagreement”. He of course declined (and ridiculed me more). Posters who I respected a lot kindly told me to chill out and I realized that I had embarrassed myself and I got a grip.

    It happens. We let the blood leave our faces and we move on and try to disagree without getting too crazy. I’ve been there. I can relate.

    Having said that, if you can meet all of my stipulations then yes, I would love to come up to MN and hang with ya and it is ok if Bart hangs with us, too.

  21. January 26, 2011

    I wish the last part of his post hadn’t been deleted, so that I could have read what it said.

    @ yankiboy

    Why would he fly me down to Minnesota just to chase me off of his lawn with a cane and a poopy diaper?

  22. yankiboy permalink
    January 26, 2011

    @Daniel: That is not helpful.

    What have you got against us old timers?

    Bro, The last part was way over the top (seriously, not trying to give you a hard time but that is not a funny subject).

    Maybe we can try and keep things a little “lighter” while still trying to make our points.

    Just a suggestion. Like I said, we don’t want things getting personal. Nothing good can come of that.

  23. January 26, 2011

    Gerry makes a decent enough point, but I doubt seriously you’re going to get the bickering to stop.

    But worse than the bickering – to me, anyway – is the situational ethics that some seem to adhere to.

    Trying to put teams where the NASL has or plans teams is dirty pool and unprofessional and proves you’re a jerk and scared of the competition. But convincing existing teams to break agreements and join you in a breakaway league is totally fair and proves you’re visionary.

    Putting some typical and fairly innocuous boilerplate text puffing yourself up at the expense of your competition – even if it’s true – is unprofessional and ridiculous. But making public statements on the record disparaging your competition or stating your case for superiority – statements that go in the BODY of a press release or story – proves your mettle as a leader and is totally justified.

    Hiring a director of communications, director of creative services, senior director of PDL, national technical director, media relations manager, communications coordinator, director of interactive production, technical advisor, operations manager, player registrar, director of corporate sponsorships and senior director of youth leagues over the course of 12 months is ignored, but hiring a blogger and no one else despite having had minimum staffing requirements in your hand since last August does nothing to dissuade you of the notion that the NASL is going to be a far superior league and will do things the right way.

    Having a team in Los Angeles that has to fly to the East Coast is ridiculous, but having a team in Edmonton that has to fly to Puerto Rico is no problem.

    Letting the California Victory and Cleveland City Stars run out of money and go away is evidence that you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t care about American soccer. Letting Crystal Palace Baltimore and AC St. Louis run out of money and go away is just a blip like that faced by any pioneering group that cares deeply about American soccer.

    Being owned by Nike and having decisions made in Tampa is bad. Being propped up by Traffic and having decisions made in Miami is awesome, but not as awesome as it would have been if Jeff Cooper would have bought the league because, really, how could Jeff Cooper miss?

    Just look honestly and critically at the issues – or you’re just a fanboy. And I can’t respect that. I don’t care how much you care about your team – be honest and realistic. And that’s just not happening.

  24. Strikers Return permalink
    January 26, 2011

    Ah, you gotta love yankiboy! First he brings the laughs, and then he provides the wisdom of peace. Keep it coming my friend! And agreed – no need to squash the back and forth, but personal stuff should be out of bounds. We’re here to talk soccer, not discuss Bart’s wife beatings or anyone else’s diapers. LOL

    @BQ – Still waiting to hear what’s behind the “if” the Stars play this year comment!!!

  25. Strikers Return permalink
    January 26, 2011

    That came out wrong, for those that don’t know, it’s Bart that has bewildered us with his confessions that he is on the wrong end of the beatings from his wife. LOL

  26. January 26, 2011

    Stikers Return, what’s to not understand? The NASL has been rejected by US Soccer to be sanctioned for D2 this year. We’ve discussed ad nauseam the options here. The NASL is moving forward as if there will be a D2 season. That does not mean they will play this year. If you were a taking bets in Vegas the odds makers would be betting against the NASL playing D2 this season. They have said they will not play D3. So what do we have? 8 NASL teams that might not play this year. or, they might play D2 but odds are long or they could play D3 which they have said they wouldn’t do but could change their mind. Arghhh!

  27. paul permalink
    January 26, 2011

    Brian, I still want to know if it would be possible for the NASL to be simply “affiliated” this year. I’ve been told that this is what the PDL and the USASA have done. This would allow the league to move forward without being sanctioned and could move for D-2 sanctioning the following year. Is this a possibility or should we all hold off on buying season tickets?

  28. Grant Stephens permalink
    January 26, 2011

    My favorite definition of the term ‘fanboy’…since it get WAY too much usage on a message board as specialized as this one!

    Fan-boy: A pathetic insult often used by fanboys themselves to try and put down people who don’t like whatever it is they like.

  29. Dan permalink
    January 26, 2011

    Well their is some good news on the NASL side. San Antonio has sold 1005 season tickets so far reaching their halfway mark on how many season tickets they expect to sell, they also have Nike as a Shirt Sponsor, and Harvey’s Heroes has also become a sponsor of the team. San Antonio is looking like it is doing well.

  30. Grant Stephens permalink
    January 26, 2011

    Very true, Dan! great developments for that franchise and league.

    Cant help but think how much better the travel demands will be when The NASL can swap Montreal for San Antonio! (I know that Montreal has said they want to keep a team in NASL, but that wont happen immediately…will it?)

  31. Dan permalink
    January 26, 2011

    I figure it would be nice to keep this thread positive.

  32. Strikers Return permalink
    January 26, 2011

    @BQ – Sorry for the stresser dude! I guess I’m just running with the assumption that the league has gone well past the point of no return for thoughts of maybe not playing this year. I know Davidson has said they are only interested in D2. But that doesn’t mean they might not be forced to settle for D3 for 2011. Considering the SIZABLE amount of cash Traffic has already laid out for this year, I really can’t see them just shutting everything down at this point. The only way they have any chance of recouping any of their investment is by playing a season as a sanctioned league. If it isn’t D2, it has to be D3. Most fans who attend games won’t have any clue what D2 or D3 are, or what being sanctioned means, or know who Davidson is let alone what he said about the situation. All most fans will care about is whether or not there are games to go to.

    @Dan – Saw the story on the NASL site about Scorpions FC getting Nike on board as a sponsor. Talk about an excellent job their front office and marketing staff must be doing! Even Kenn will have to admit to being impressed they were able to hook Nike!

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