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NASL Receives Full Sanctioning at USSF AGM

2012 March 3
tags: ,
by Brian Quarstad

NASL Commissioner David Downs presents the championship trophy last October with USSF Secretary General Dan Flynn looking on. Photo by Jeremy Olson -

The NASL announced this morning that they have received full sanctioning from the United States Soccer Federation at the organization’s annual general meeting. The USSF National Council voted on the matter this morning in the meetings being held in Miami, Florida.

Last November the USSF Board of Directors unanimously approved granting NASL sanctioning as a Division 2 men’s professional soccer league for the 2012 season. In order to be fully sanctioned the decision had to be approved at the AGM which is taking place this weekend.

In 2010 and ’11 the NASL was only provisionally sanctioned by the USSF which was an on-again-off-again affair, receiving provisional status in November of 2010. Then after changes in team ownership and other issues the provisional status was pulled. Eventually it was granted again and the NASL ran what most would consider a very successful first season as the sanctioned league for Division 2 men’s professional soccer in the U.S.

“We’ve worked tirelessly over the past several years to create a new, sustainable long-term platform for Division 2 professional soccer in North America and the Caribbean. We thank the Federation for their leadership and cooperation in helping us elevate second division standards in order to make our vision a reality,” said Aaron Davidson, Chairman of the NASL Board of Governors.

“After a successful inaugural campaign in which we worked to stabilize Division 2, we are pleased to have the formal approval that fully empowers us to move ahead with our plans to grow our league. We look forward to continuing to play a critical role in the development and maturation of soccer in North America and the Caribbean,” said David Downs, NASL Commissioner.

46 Responses
  1. Bart permalink
    March 3, 2012

    Oh, so now NASL will play a “critical role …… in North America and the Carribean…”? Would this not infer that they plan to expand beyond Puerto Rico? Nice to see the creativity and innovation on Down’s part. His contract term will be just right.

    Frankly, and similar to WPS, NASL still has to gain annual approval from USSF to remain sanctioned, so the concept of “provisional” versus “non-provisional” really has little distinction.

    The issues from the beginning of the first season to this current date have not changed, and I bet you a hamburger that all of this will be reviewed with much more scrutiny as time evolves. It all boils down to Traffic. As long as that coffer is open, NASL can proceed. Turn that spigot off, and the harsh reality of a lack of oxygen begins to kick in.

  2. March 3, 2012

    Bart, serious question here: Why did you exclude MLS and USL PRO in your statement, “Frankly, and similar to WPS, NASL still has to gain annual approval from USSF to remain sanctioned, so the concept of “provisional” versus “non-provisional” really has little distinction.”?

    From my understanding every league that USSF sanctions has to submit an annual report for the approval of the USSF board each and every year to remain sanctioned. Am I missing something here that is different between WPS and NASL from MLS and USL PRO or was this just omitted for some other reason?

  3. Bart permalink
    March 3, 2012

    BQ, do you really think that MLS has to do nothing more but provide a wink to remain sanctioned? Are you really inferring that NASL is even remotely in the same league as MLS?

    Who do you think really controls USSF at the pro level?

    Your article was about NASL, not MLS or USL Pro. I don’t recollect you writing about MLS being sanctioned, and frankly, I don’t recollect you writing that USL Pro got sanctioned for this season either.

    Are you saying that every time a comment is made about NASL, it has to be made in the context of comparing that statement on how it affects MLS or USL Pro?

    Give me the rules, brotha, and I would be glad to comply.

  4. thesuperrookie permalink
    March 3, 2012

    Bart- I thought BQ asked an honest question. It seemed like your comment was a little slighted on the negative tip as you mention NASL with WPL. This was a clever ploy as we know that the WPL has been failing. Yet, all the leagues need to get approved, including the USL PRO.

    That being said, I think this is good news, but I would still like to see more owner in the league that want soccer and not bet the wine cellar on the success.

  5. Danwolf permalink
    March 3, 2012

    Bart, where is the WPS even mentioned in the article? If you bring up the WPS in an article about NASL being sanctioned then expect people to come back at you with MLS and USL-Pro.

    So why are you running away from the question?

  6. Bart permalink
    March 3, 2012


    It is quite simple. NASL has a goal of being the best professional league that would work in concert with MLS. A worthy and admirable goal. Not something I think one can compare USL Pro to, in spite of their claim that they are the hardest working, most reliable, purest of heart and classiest group of guys south of MLS.

    When discussing sanctioning, one simply cannot compare the insider trading edge that MLS has with USSF. Therefore, you look to the next “equal” standard, which in this case, is WPS.

    I am assuming at this point that Davidson/Downs/NASL would never want to be compared to those bunch of looney tunes in Tampa, as NASL does not consider them serious contenders for pro soccer in the US.

    So, bottom line, the logical comparison is WPS. NASL and WPS each have hair on them as organizations. Some in more places than the other and certainly in different areas than the other.

  7. Soccer Boy permalink
    March 3, 2012

    Kudos go to Commissioner Downs for his hard work. It was great to see the leader of the league making regular appearances around the league. I personally found him very approachable. The NASL also did a lot of things this year to make the league look first-class, and a great looking trophy to boot!

  8. WSW permalink
    March 3, 2012


    We all know you are biased towards USL, so tell meanwhile NASL works hard behind the scenes to do whats right, USL loses 3 franchises and has a statement that “they are the best league under MLS” or something like that.

    So what does the above article have to do with WPS? Nothing.

    Basically you feel threatened that your beloved USL is a has-been byproduct.

  9. Soccer Boy permalink
    March 3, 2012

    USL is a third-class league with one (maybe two) good teams. I think someone should sue USL for false advertising.

  10. Bart permalink
    March 3, 2012


    No, not everyone assumes that, and further more, it is not true that I am biased towards USL. Nothing I stated in this thread assumes that I feel threatened about the D3 league in this country.

    I used WPS as an example and have explained the reasoning thereof. It should be simple enough to understand.


    Why don’t you personally sue USL for false advertising? That just might get me back into law, as I would love to take the opposite side of that case, if the other side would have me.

  11. Fotbalist permalink
    March 3, 2012

    All of the above has become quite silly! C’mon!

    As a basic principle of functionality and accountability anything that receives a form of ‘sanctioning’ is expected to offer some form of ‘reporting’ for the purpose of maintaining the respective sanctioning.

    Additionally, it may be easier for some sanctioned members to maintain their rank/level/approval than others. Higher education institutions go through similar assessments. Business franchises also have some form of inspections, etc.

    What we need to be attentive to is not to be ‘more’ critical of one member than others.

  12. Fotbalist permalink
    March 3, 2012

    The comments derailed me from the original article. Sorry!

    I’m very happy they received the full sanctioning. I truly believe this will help. If nothing else, it’ll give Downs, the NASL Board and administration a great boost of energy along with peace of mind. I’m confident this is a result of much of their behind the scenes work of the past 2 years. Go NASL!

  13. Mike permalink
    March 3, 2012

    Strange, I brought up WPS in the Downs contract thread and it didn’t get this kind of reaction. I’m jealous!

    Let’s see, the NASL has requested sanctioning waivers the past two seasons. So did WPS (sans the ‘the’). Hence, the reference. Whew, that was a tough one!

    By the way, the site rule is that if anyone makes a comment about the NASL that could even be slightly interpreted as negative, a fanboy is allowed to respond with a “yeah, but the USL…blah blah” retort, even if the USL isn’t mentioned anywhere in the posted article. Just so we’re all clear on that.

    I did find the hair reference, which everyone glossed over, a little creepy though!

  14. March 3, 2012

    Bart: What they say, that’s imply. How you take it, that’s infer.

    /the more you know

  15. Stephen permalink
    March 3, 2012

    Hmmm…. article comes out stating Downs and the NASL are in discussion with investors with 20 other markets looking to start franchises early in the week, by the end of week, the NASL is made ‘official.’

  16. Danwolf permalink
    March 3, 2012

    I just hoping NASL is getting ready to announce a 1 or 2 expansion teams in the next few weeks that have the right ownership groups to push this league forward. Oh, and hopefully we also find out that at least 1 of the teams will be off of Traffic/NASL shoulders and in the hands of new ownership.

  17. Bingo Long permalink
    March 3, 2012

    Does anyone know if Traffic still owns a percentage of The Silverbacks? If so, any idea about how much? I was told by someone in the organization last year, that if things went well last season, the previous owner(s) would take over all ownership.

  18. Rob Routson permalink
    March 3, 2012

    Gentlemen: I can’t take the incorrect use of infer any longer. It goes like this: I imply and You infer or You imply and I infer.

  19. March 3, 2012

    I dunno about anyone else, but I haven’t heard anything regarding Atlanta’s ownership situation. I think Traffic still owns the majority stake. They did pretty well last year drawing fans considering how awful they were.

    Back on topic, great news for the league, it’s teams and it’s fans. Sure there are still issues and the league will still be watched with a close eye by the USSF. But it’s nice to see progress moving forward. Baby steps perhaps, but moving forward.

    Now on to the soccer! Can’t wait for April 7 at Lockhart!

  20. Jim (aka MLSinSTL) permalink
    March 4, 2012

    While I’m not a fanboy of the NASL, I am a fan of lower division soccer. I think this is great news for D2 soccer and NASL.

    I do agree that the USSF will continue to watch the NASL’s sanctioning as ownership changes are (hopefully) made. Traffic won’t fund this league forever so new ownership needs to be found. The league also has mandates to expand in the number of teams and time zones in the coming years which will continue to put the NASL under the microscope for a few more years.

    And yet, despite this continued scrutiny I’m not really sure that it’s accurate to say there’s little distinction between provisional and fully sanctioned. If you asked the parties involved either from the NASL or USSF, I doubt either would say this was insignificant. I’d bet a cheeseburger and fries that the process a sanctioned league goes through each year is different than a provisionally sanctioned league does.

  21. Craig permalink
    March 4, 2012

    Very glad to see NASL “fully” sanctioned – gives a little more stability to lower-division soccer.

    Right now – in this moment – things are ok. But NASL is still incredibly fragile. San Antonio’s SSS is all smoke and mirrors at this point and I have serious reservations about their business plan. If the Scorpions don’t work out, where does that leave NASL?

    Fingers crossed that all this year’s drama stays on the pitch!

  22. Rob Routson permalink
    March 4, 2012

    Unless there are fans in the seats no matter the Division level, sanctioning is meaningless. MLS/NASL/USL must find ways to cooperate and collaborate. If they do, all will benefit.

  23. Footy76 permalink
    March 4, 2012

    @ Rob Routson that’s true I agree to a point that why I found BQ two part article on Integrating MLS Reserve League into America’s Lower Divisions so interesting. That kind of deal could be a make them or break them kind of deal for any league. No matter what league you are a fan of we all agree that the U.S has to speed up its progress of the next World Cup and one of these league could play an important role in that and the future of U.S soccer. Back to the article good for the NASL good news for them

  24. Jspech permalink
    March 4, 2012

    If you love the game any news about an team in the USA is positive for the game. Hate the bickering.

  25. Jspech permalink
    March 4, 2012

    That’ any good news about any team is positive news for the game. Why not happy, if you love the game?

  26. Rob Routson permalink
    March 4, 2012

    Soccer’s problems go back to 1894 with the country’s first attempt at professional soccer[APFL]. We don’t seem to learn from our past mistakes. Division labels are just names currently as we do not have a relegation or progression plan of any sort. There are 3 leagues promoting their own agendas which may lead to more defunct teams or themselves becoming extinct. Check out soccer’s history in the US. Many squandered opportunities due to greed/grandiose and small thinking just to name a few mistakes.

  27. WSW permalink
    March 4, 2012

    I don’t know but it looks like USSF just cares about MLS and kind of let’s minor league soccer to fend for themselves.

  28. Dan permalink
    March 5, 2012

    Brian, what is the status of Traffic with the NASL? The last I remember is that the teams run by Traffic last year would have to have new owners before USSF would sanction the NASL. So does the sanctioning mean that Traffic has sold their stake in NASL teams to other owners?

  29. March 5, 2012

    @Dan, no. That is only partially correct. Yes, USSF wants Traffic to sell off its teams and have independent owners except of course for one which Traffic could own. In fact now that Traffic is being run by the owners son (there have been articles about this on IMS) they to want nothing more than to find new owners as this is getting to be a very expensive endeavor. However, USSF never said they wouldn’t get sanctioned if they didn’t sell them off. An interview here on IMS with Dan Flynn indicated that US Soccer is fully aware these things don’t just happen over night and take time. Sometimes quite a bit of time.

    Nothing has changed since last year as to ownership situations except Montreal leaving to go MLS and San Antonio coming in.

    @Bart, I was too busy this weekend to respond to you but man, did you try to avoid my comment with a different argument. You lawyers are all the same. 🙂

    Of course we are talking sanctioning and the article was specific to NASL. You brought up WPS. (“Give me the rules, brotha, and I would be glad to comply.”) If you start comparing then we start opening the conversation to other comparisons.

    I believe my statement is true. As a part of the USSF Bylaws each sanctioned league must present an annual report each year in order to get the stamp of approval to be sanctioned the following year. It’s not a given for any league. Of course with the success and power MLS has, a “wink” is pretty much all that is needed. We all know that and you were certainly overstating the case for hyperbole now, weren’t we? So what are we comparing? Leagues that are already sanctioned? Leagues that need waivers? Leagues that are not as stable and if that is the case by who’s standards? “Give me the rules, brotha, and I would be glad to comply.” 😉

    And speaking of waivers: @Mike, the USL with USL PRO also needed a waiver last season when they were slightly over the ratio of US to foreign teams with 3-PR teams and one in Antigua. As it ended up it wasn’t really an issue when they booted the three PR teams early in the season.

    I can’t see any reason why USL PRO would have needed a waiver this year.

    Oh, and to the comment: “By the way, the site rule is that if anyone makes a comment about the NASL that could even be slightly interpreted as negative, a fanboy is allowed to respond with a “yeah, but the USL…blah blah” retort, even if the USL isn’t mentioned anywhere in the posted article.”

    So true, brother. So true.

  30. Dan permalink
    March 5, 2012

    @Brian. Thanks, and sorry for being out of touch. So then Traffic currently runs 3 NASL teams and is looking to sell of two of them so that they just run the one? Also, what do you think is the main target of the NASL this year: increase attendance? expansion? increase relationship with MLS? sell off 2 Traffic run teams? Better television contract for better revenue?

  31. Fotbalist permalink
    March 5, 2012

    One can tell that we are a ‘drama-loving group of soccer fans’….lol….there isn’t sufficient drama on the national soccer scene, so we found a way to create drama surrounding a very basic, straight forward ‘good news’ type article. I’m having fun….aren’t you!

    I’m trying to imagine how loud we would be if we were all face-to-face in one physical room. That would be fun, especially with a few drinks. :-)))

  32. March 5, 2012

    @Dan, All of the above and there are no revenues in TV for 2nd and 3rd division. As we have stated here many times, local contracts is what would be best. At the current time there really is no national interest in D2 and D3 and USL and their teams pay for games to be on TV. Hell, even MLS hasn’t done great on TV until recently.

    @Dan, you’ve got to start reading IMS more often. 😉

    BTW, we are recording another episode of the IMS NASL Podcast tonight with David Downs as guest. It should be published by Wed. I’m sure we will be discussing some of these issues.

  33. Mike permalink
    March 5, 2012


    Thanks for pointing out the USL waiver; I didn’t recall that one. Although that was a positive waiver (well, at least at the time it was). Besides, USL wasn’t mentioned in the article. Rules broham, rules!

    As for the ongoing drama, it’s all Bart’s fault. He’s an instigator.

    It is amusing that in this ongoing D2/D3 business, some feel the need to choose up sides and turn it into the Hatfields and the McCoys. Maybe we should all just chill by having Ethyl break out the moonshine and smoke some of whatever they stuff into that corncob pipe.

  34. March 5, 2012

    Again, agreed Mike. I think it stems from the Fancisco Marcus years and that a lot of people got burned with the franchise system and a 75% fail rate at the USL-1 (D2) level. With that said, anyone who makes disparaging comments about the USL without looking at the big picture are very short sited. USL is much more than their showcase professional leagues. USL, and even Marcos have done some amazing work in this country to help build the pyramid of soccer.

  35. Strikers Return permalink
    March 5, 2012

    Anyone else starting to think that “Mike” is actually an alternate personality of Bart’s…? LOL

  36. Bart permalink
    March 5, 2012

    @Strikers Return

    Yeah, right. I am retired, and that type of immaturity only bores me.

    So, how poorly is your team going to do this next season? Seems to me, most of the player resources went around to the other NASL teams.

  37. Fotbalist permalink
    March 5, 2012

    @ BQ – Wow! Great news about the IMS NASL Podcast. Really looking forward to it!

  38. Mike permalink
    March 5, 2012

    @Smoke and Mirr…er…Strikers Return

    I can assure you I’m not Bart, but believe what you want to believe if it makes you happy. You seem to be quite good at it.

  39. Strikers Return permalink
    March 6, 2012

    Wow Bart/Mike, didn’t know you were so sensitive! LOL Poke a little fun and you go defensive on me. You guys should lighten up about things that aren’t NASL related. LOL As for your question Bart, I continue to have concerns about my team. I continue to believe that Traffic is completely out of South Florida even though nobody seems to want to say it out loud. So how concerned I am depends on what is going on behind the scenes. If Tim Robbie is trying to fly this ship all by himself right now, then I’m more concerned. Although I think he is absolutely the right person to be running the organization, I don’t think his resources are anywhere near Traffic’s, so the kinds of things they need to do this year to build on last year like more advertising and making sure a team capable of making it to the finals again is on the field, would seem to be very difficult. On the other hand, if the rumors I’ve heard have some substance, and indeed there is someone close to making a deal to buy out Traffic and come on board with Mr. Robbie, then I’ll feel much more confident that the team will have the resources it needs to make this season extremely successful. So, flip a coin I suppose, and we’ll all wait to see what comes up.

  40. yankiboy permalink
    March 6, 2012

    “That’ any good news about any team is positive news for the game. Why not happy, if you love the game?”

    Fair question; I got an answer.

    Let me try to explain it to you, this way, Playah:

    In Baltimore, we heard a lot of good news from an ownership that I admired, respected and appreciated (I still due, even with thingas not working out the way that they had sincerely HOPED that they would.

    A lot of the “good news” didn’t come to fruition (eg, stadium plans that were being discussed, then stable venue after seperating the relationship with the University of Maryland Baltimore County, returning after taking the 2012 season off, etc).

    That’s why I’m not just gonna be “happy” with “good news”, even though I “love” the game.

    As a follow up, people argue about sports they care about all day and night long to the point that said arguing has grown into an industry that supports tens of thousands of people in this country.

    If no one is talking about the NASL or USL or MLS or WPS or league or team X–that is when those leagues problems are going to be a lot worse than whatever they might have now. Apathy pretty much equal irrelavance and irrelvance usually helps accelerate non-existence.

    Hope that answers your question, Playah. Sorry it took me so long to respond. I only just had the chance to read your comments.

  41. yankiboy permalink
    March 6, 2012

    “Hell, even MLS hasn’t done great on TV until recently.”
    -Brian Quarstad (aka, My Great Mentor)

    Bro, you are being really very generous. MLS went from not moving the needle at all to barely moveing the needle. The massive progress is that they went from funding it to actually having networks fork out some ca$h to carry it. Whenever I hear sports economits talking about MLS, they almost always make a point to throw in some line about the ratings followed adjective like “negligible”…

  42. WSW permalink
    March 6, 2012

    So what’s up with Traffic?

  43. Bart permalink
    March 7, 2012


    Between the hours of 6:30am through 9:00am, it is kind of heavy. After that, it is pretty light unitl 4:00pm and then again gets heavy and sluggish until around 7:30pm.

    Public transportation is generally best.

  44. Mike permalink
    March 7, 2012

    Wow Striker LOL, if you thought my post was me being sensitive LOL, that just reaffirms my earlier statement about you LOL. I know you won’t have to worry about your team soon with that deep pocket investor coming in LOL, but in the meantime enjoy watching Motagalvan pass the ball backwards and give it away to the opposing team repeatedly with his bad touches. Just poking a little fun LOL!

    Yankiboy – hey, give MLS some credit. They doubled their ratings from nothing to next to nothing. Have to give them props for getting NBC to pony up some cash (probably peanuts, but still) to slap games on their network. Of course, they they did the same thing with the XFL a few years back too, just sayin’. A few people in their sports department may need a good smack upside the head.

    I still owe you that Rochester stadium info you asked for. As soon as I talk to my good buddy Rob over a Saranac Black and Tan when he’s in town, I’ll get that right over to you.

    Traffic? What’s up with that?

  45. March 7, 2012

    What is exactly up with Traffic? 🙂

    WSW, what he’s saying and probably most of us were thinking, is you need to be more specific. That would be like me asking what’s up with WSW?

  46. March 14, 2012

    It’s good that the NASL has been officially approved as Div 2 by USSF.

    NASL should follow a strict model almost like MLS to gradually expand and include cities not covered by MLS franchises but where football enjoys a good grass root status and support.

    The more professional leagues there are in USA/Canada at all levels (MLS, NASL, USL Pro, even the CSL) the better for the game over-all.


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