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David Downs to Leave NASL Commissioner Position at End of 2012 Season

2012 October 5
by Brian Quarstad

NASL Commissioner David Downs presents the championship Soccer Bowl Trophy last October in Ft. Lauderdale with USSF Secretary General Dan Flynn looking on. Photo by Jeremy Olson – www.digitalgopher.net

The NASL announced this afternoon through a story on their website that commissioner David Downs was stepping down from his position. Downs spoke to IMS from his office in Miami on Thursday afternoon and said he will be there “until the last kick of the season” and believes he will continue through November and possibly even longer, as he has committed to the NASL’s Board of Governors a smooth transition.

The league’s website said the Board of Governors has formed a search committee to identify a new Commissioner and has retained Odgers Berndtson, an internationally recognized executive recruiting firm, to lead the process.

The move came as a surprise as Downs, who has worked for both ABC Sports and Univision as well as leading the USA Bid Committee to bring the World Cup to the U.S. in 2018 or 2022, signed a 2-year contract renewal late last February.

“I’m so proud of what the NASL has accomplished in just its first two seasons and am confident that this league has a great future in the North American soccer landscape,” said Downs in the NASL’s statement.  “Soccer continues to grow as a participant and spectator sport here, and the NASL is perfectly poised to deliver entertainment for our fans, while serving to boost the sport’s reach across the continent and offer professional soccer players a chance to showcase their considerable skills.”

Downs who lives in Hastings-on-Hudson in New York, became the league’s first commissioner on April 4th of 2011. He said he signed the papers in mid-March and he and his wife Alexis hopped on a plane to Miami two weeks later with carry on luggage. “That’s how we moved to Miami,” said Downs who lives within walking distance of the NASL office.

“When I signed the 2-year extension I protected myself with an ability to resign effective the end of my second season but it had a provision that I would have to make that decision before the end of the season,” Downs said. “I must say that while I fully expected to see out the two years when I signed that contract, I also thought pretty seriously that at the end of the two years that I would want to move back to New York where we have a large network of family and friends and where I still own a house where we have lived for nearly 30 years. As the notice period started to loom, moving back to New York was either 4 months or 16 months away. For fairly selfish reasons I decided I wanted to move back.”

Downs said that while he has taken vacation days to do home projects or other such things, he hasn’t taken an extended vacation since before his time with the USA Bid Committee which was June of 2008. “I want that,” said Downs. “Part of me is torn because I categorically believe the league is in much better shape than before I started. I also recognize that there are plenty of things I would have loved to accomplish with the league and plenty of exciting things in store for the future that I will not be part of.”

Downs also made it clear that he was not leaving the commissioners position to take another job.

“I have no clue what happens next in my life,” Downs said.

However, when he was asked if he would have any interest if the NY Cosmos were to ask him to work for their organization he responded, “Well, that is in New York. I doubt I would jump into something that was that conventional but you never know.”

Downs also mentioned the possibility of becoming an adjunct faculty member at a small college or even a high school JV soccer coach. The New York native holds his D license with the USSF and at one time coached both of his children who are now adults.

The commissioner, whose signature is on all the NASL match balls said, “I was a third string defender on a 1970s college team and I now have my name on a ball. I’m so grateful for having had the chance to be in this position with this league in a pretty historic role. I’ve had a great time doing this and I’ll never regret that.”

66 Responses
  1. Demolition Man permalink
    October 5, 2012

    Looks like Downs is getting out just in time for the league to potentially yank the plug on the Stars. What a frosted goon he is.

  2. Bart permalink
    October 5, 2012

    Effectively,Downs lasted 18 months, a surprisingly short time for what was supposed to be a proven hire by Herr Davidson.

    If this issue is solely about taking an “extended” vacation (for most folks, we are talking about 2-3 weeks) or the desire to go back to where your house is, then these are issues that should have easily been resolved.

    There is no magic to having the NASL offices in Miami. It is not as though the NASL front office is that dynamic in that it needed to remain in Miami anyway, but for that area being the US headquarters for Traffic USA. NASL could easily have located their office to a place where their Commissioner wanted to live, decisions like this happen all the time in the business world.

    New York is a better location for a US professional sports business anyway. With MLS being in New York and USSF only a stone’s throw away in Chicago, this makes much more sense. Not to mention all the PR and corporate sponsorship opportunities that eminate from the NY area.

    So, once one pulls apart this layer of onion skin, what is the real story? Inquiring minds want to know…

  3. Strikers Return permalink
    October 5, 2012

    @Demolition Man – Hey, great movie! LOL But seriously, I for one never got the feeling that this was a long term gig for Downs. He always seemed like someone who was brought in to get some things done for a limited amount of time. Did he get done everything the league wanted? I don’t know. I think we’d all agree that for the most part, the league’s situation did improve under him overall. Was it because of his leadership though? I’m not sure. At any rate, I don’t foresee his last act as commish being the folding of the Stars. I think the Cosmos are going to be the only new team for 2013, and the Stars will be back, you heard it hear first.

  4. Strikers Return permalink
    October 5, 2012

    @Bart – As usual you over simplify and twist until things fit your perspective. Could his walking away at this point be indicative of something? Of course it can. This is D2 soccer in the US. Calamities, catastrophes, and train wrecks happen on a regular basis. Only hindsight will give us the answer someday.

    I think the league office is in Miami because Traffic’s office is in Miami. It’s no secret that Traffic is THE driving force left behind the NASL now that the Wellamn’s and Saputo are gone. Why should they move their offices to NY simply to accomdate the homesickness of Downs? Stuff like that DOESN’T happen in business everyday, sheesh. If you want the job, and the paycheck, you suck it up. If you don’t, well good luck to you. Simple.

    Personally I think there is more to the story with the NY connection. Downs has a lot of connections in the game in this country. He’s worked closely with Garber during the World Cup bid. I won’t be surprised if he pops up in some capacity with the Cosmos at some point as part of the effort to stregthen their bid to be NY2 for MLS. How long did Davidson say he was working on trying to get the Cosmos into the NASL, and the deal didn’t get done until Downs was involved. I think a connection grew during that process, and we’ll see it play out down the road. I have no insider knowledge, just making a prediction.

  5. yankiboy permalink
    October 5, 2012

    ^That’s really harsh and over the top. Unless you are privy to some information that the rest of us aren’t–it also appears to be a grossly inaccurate portrayal of the gentleman’s decision to step down from his position.

    Jay Long

  6. yankiboy permalink
    October 5, 2012

    My previous post was referring to Demolition Man’s post. I don’t have the attention span to watch movies. It appears that I may have taken what was a joke and a popular culture reference to be a serious comment when it wasn’t intended to be.

    I honestly thought that it was an u fair shot at the Commisioner. I apologize if I overreacted to what was only a “tounge in cheek” comment. (If it was in deed a serious one then I stand by my original response)

  7. smatthew permalink
    October 5, 2012

    Probably didn’t want to go through the sanctioning process with USSF again this off-season. And having to defend the idea that the league really does meet the number of team requirement without Minnesota and New York joining halfway through the season.

  8. October 5, 2012

    Linking his departure to the possible demise of the Stars shows exactly how small-minded some anonymous people are.

  9. thesuperrookie permalink
    October 5, 2012

    Bart-

    You are correct.

    Chicago is only a stone’s throw away from New York City.

    I teach this fact to my students everyday.

  10. leper permalink
    October 5, 2012

    Some people can apparently throw stones farther than others.

  11. Fotbalist permalink
    October 5, 2012

    It’s too bad he’s leaving. I think he was a good commish. I’m guessing it has more to do with the fact that the NASL doesn’t have more prospective teams ready to join in 2013 or even in 2014. But this really is just a guess.

    However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become involved with the NY Cosmos. Whatever the case, I feel the NASL is much more stable now and can handle transition to a new commissioner.

    Lastly, I’ll give Bart credit for pointing out that NY would be a much better choice for NASL headquarters (though costs would be real high) and Traffic would serve itself well by making that transition. Of course, I’m still scratching my head about the “Chicago’s a stone’s throw away” thing.

  12. Fotbalist permalink
    October 5, 2012

    Oh, I forgot something.

    Commissioner Downs, good luck with your future plans! I’m sure we’ll see you again very soon at the forefront of the soccer landscape in North America. You’ve been involved for so long to be able to stay away now when things are taking off.

  13. Mike permalink
    October 5, 2012

    First, I highly doubt that Downs resigning has ANYTHING to do with the Stars specifically. Second, the Cosmos will be the only new team next season, and the Stars won’t be back unless a buyer surfaces at the last minute. With a new 8th team in the fold, the league simply doesn’t need them anymore. I’d hate to see it happen, but the cold hard fact of the matter is that the team is a necessary resource business expense for the rest of the owners. After this season, it becomes an UNnecessary resource business expense. I’d be surprised if the board doesn’t vote no unanimously later this month.

    There certainly appears to be more than meets the eye with the Downs resignation. The reasons given are vague, and it doesn’t sound like he’s planning to retire. Maybe it was too much stress, or he tired of the constant traveling. Or some internal strife perhaps. I guess we’ll never really know. I suggested once before that 2013 would be a make or break year for the league, and now with yet another major change to absorb, I’m even more convinced. Makes you wonder what Ottawa and that Virginia group are thinking right now.

    P.S. I don’t get why everyone is taking the “stone’s throw” reference so literally. NY to Chicago by plane is roughly 1.5 hours (actual flight time). For business travelers these days, that’s a puddle jump.

    P.P.S. The “puddle jump” reference was me being metaphorically metaphorical.

  14. Strikers Return permalink
    October 5, 2012

    @yankiboy – For a second there I thought you were jumping on my post playah! LOL Glad I then saw the next one explaining it was aimed at Demo man!

    @fotbalist – As I told Bart, why would Traffic want to move the HQ to NY when league HQ is probably just a few of offices on a floor Traffic is already renting in a building in Miami. Plus the added point you made of the expense of NYC. All to accomodate one individual? I think not. We saw this year across the league just how much the bottom line matters for everyone. The league office situation is no different.

    @Mike – What you’re saying about the Stars makes sense. And my response to fotbalist in the above paragraph would seem to indicate I agree with you. But I just have this nagging feeling that there is enough sentiment to give the Stars one more year to find that investor, especially if they have some potential candidates already as Downs has said. Plus, we still come back to the fact that the league is supposed to have 10 teams next year, not 8, or even 9. I think it’s a lot easier to sell the USSF on a waiver for 9 than 8, especially if they can also add that Ottawa and one or two others are joining for 2014. I’m hearing lots of good things about Indy being one of those candidates.

    I think the only thing that could for sure derail the Stars if no owner is found this offseason is the possible ramifications of what appears to be the impending deal to turn USL Pro into MLS Reserve League. If he knew 100% for certain that he would only have to operate as DC United’s farm team for a year or two in this situation, then he was guaranteed a spot in MLS, then I think Rawlins would continue to give NASL the finger and stay where he is at. But those are huge ifs, and personally I don’t think he can count on any such scenario. I continue to maintain Garber and the league keep their focus on NY2 as #20, and that we don’t see anyone but that team getting into MLS after them for another 4 or 5 years from now, at least. So what does Rawlins do then? Would Rochester or Charleston balk at the idea of being a farm club as well? Don’t know. But Rawlins plans all along seem to indicate he wouldn’t be interested in that situation. So, if the dominoes do fall in such a way that Orlando decides to join NASL for next year, I think that might just be the tipping point on deciding not to carry the Stars another year.

    So awesome to have a place to come and toss out these ideas on a Friday afternoon while watching the clock and waiting for work to end! LOL And Mike, I thought the puddle jump reference was your shout out to Stargate…but if I actually said that, then people would know I wasn’t just a soccer nerd, but a sci fi nerd too….heh

  15. tomASS permalink
    October 5, 2012

    @ Mike – good thing you qualified the puddle jump as flight time since any of us who have travel between these cities probably have put more airplane time on the tarmac in Chicago & NY than in actual air time between the cities.

    I would go with a corner kick rather than a stone’s throw comparison since this is a soccer site and I know BQ likes us to try to stay on topic and if we can’t do that at least stay in the same pitch :-)

  16. Bart permalink
    October 5, 2012

    @Strikers Return

    …….As I told Bart, why would Traffic want to move the HQ to NY when league HQ is probably just a few of offices on a floor Traffic is already renting…..

    Thank you for confirming my entire existence and way of life! Traffic needs NASL close to them, Traffic blah blah blah….

    Another direct point that NASL does not operate under the USSF standards. Traffic controls everything about this league. This is not a league run by the individual team owners, or owners that have established the minimum net worth standards.

    A house not built on a firm foundation is doomed to fail. This is metaphorical, folks, I am not predicting that NASL will fail, but they sure do not have a solid foundation.

    At Thanksgiving dinner, you should be giving thanks to the Good Lord that He has provided us folks with another D2 season, and with his great Will, a new D2 season may be forthcoming in the next year.

  17. doug permalink
    October 5, 2012

    Lets be real people.

    1) Traffic wants out… there were many stories in the spring that Traffic was looking to unload responsibility (maybe not all) in the NASL
    2) Down is stepping down (oh… and MLS headquarters is in NYC)
    3) The league could be purchased on the cheap…
    4) league revenue would nearly double if it was called “MLS2″

    The MLS is not ready to “expand” at division 1 level yet… but if they purchased NASL and rebranded… they would reach 7 new markets instantly… and possibly add 2nd tier teams for some of the more ambitious MLS1 teams.

    In Spain (and other leagues), big clubs have a team in 2nd division as well as 1st. The D2 team is not eligible for promotion, but can move players between the teams.

    Imagine Vancouver Whitecaps (V2) having darby’s with Edmonton and Chicago (C2) having a home and home with Minnesota.

    If just 4 teams in MLS1 fielded a new D2 team, the league would be at 12 teams and be much more profitable in the immediate future.

    Finding owners for struggling teams would be much easier under the MLS umbrella.

  18. WSW permalink
    October 5, 2012

    @ Strikers Return

    Garber has stated he wants NY to be 20th team breaking ground in 2014 and opening on 2016-2017.

    Rawlins saih he would like to see a MLS franchise by March 2015

    So what is it?

    My thoughts are it’s better not to speak like SA have done and just started building their own SSS. Meanwhile Rawlins has been talking MLS in every interview and now he wants $90 million to be not all private funds but public funds which means he wants money from public.

    So how long will OC stay in USL?

  19. Bart permalink
    October 6, 2012

    OC will stay in USL Pro until they are accepted into MLS.

    This is stated the obvious…

  20. Fotbalist permalink
    October 6, 2012

    @ doug – interesting concept and not out of the realm of possibility, but I just don’t see it.

    @Strikers Return – I agree with you on why NASL is not likely to move to NY or anywhere else, but I also agree with Bart that NY is kind of a MECCA for soccer decision making in our country. Again, a move isn’t likely, but Bart’s point is valid.

  21. Stephen permalink
    October 6, 2012

    WSW: “Garber has stated he wants NY to be 20th team breaking ground in 2014 and opening on 2016-2017. Rawlins said he would like to see an MLS franchise by March 2015
    So which is it?”

    Why not both? It took Philly 2 years after the franchise was awarded before they took the field. And that was after they had the stadium plan nailed down.

    The way I see it, if/when the city of Orlando puts the finances and plans in place to build an SSS, the MLS will award the franchise. I would bet that probably won’t happen until 2015. Which means they will begin play around 2017, possibly along with NY2. Heck, by then you could have another potential investor show interest and maybe bring the League up to 22 teams in 2017.

  22. WSW permalink
    October 6, 2012

    @Stephen

    Exactly but is OC willing to play in USL 6 years or could they move to NASL where they have rivalries with SE teams.

  23. Stephen permalink
    October 6, 2012

    Orlando hasn’t needed local rivals to succeed so far, why do they need them now? Why would you move away from USL to a very shaky NASL?

    They are only on the field to prove Orlando’s viability as an MLS market. As long as they are attracting crowds large enough to warrant the attention of MLS, they don’t care what League they play in.

  24. WSW permalink
    October 6, 2012

    @Stephen

    How is NASL shaky?

    SA is way ahead of OC in that department.

  25. Bart permalink
    October 6, 2012

    @WSW

    Seriously, in today’s times, how can you remotely infer that you are not aware how shaky NASL is?

    And OC has a few more years under its belt, with a lot more soccer experience in their owners and staff than SA has. Hartman has had an exellent honeymoon, but let’s not get carried away with what should be a long term view and have this same discussion 5 years from now.

  26. DcnJosephSuaiden permalink
    October 6, 2012

    I’d bet money somebody in D-1 has something to do with this. You want to talk about shaky, look at how the USOC played out this year. MLS knows that if the Cosmos experiment is successful financially and in terms of level of play, people will start asking questions. My guess is that the powers that be that would have liked Downs to go would prefer an empty chair.

  27. yankiboy permalink
    October 7, 2012

    @DcnJosephSuaiden: Bro, you already had me a bit suspicious with your opening line but when you dropped a “powers that be…”, I couldn’t ignore the fact that you are a comedic genius or that there might be a survival shelter manufacturer who would just love for Quarstad to violate IMS privacy policies by selling your personal contact info in order to try to sell you not the mother of all survival shelters but also a lot of non-perishable food items and more ammo than you could ever need to face the post apocalyptic world. I’d like to get a fraction of the sales commission from all of your purchases.

    Coz I think there survival shelter reality is a heck of a lot more likely than someone connected with MLS having orchestrated the “removal” of D2′ aka Mr. David Downs. Especially because of some implied connection between USOC results and some freaking club that will be playing at a college football stadium up on Long Island that has yet to do much more than sell some heavily discounted gear at Marshall’s and Ross stores in my neighborhood and make a lot of noise signifying almost less than nothing except h-y-p-e so far.

    If you weren’t just yanking our chains are were actually being serious–then you obviously really love a good conspiracy theory, my Man…

    :)

  28. yankiboy permalink
    October 7, 2012

    @WSW: I still haven’t see one reason that makes me think that Rawlins needs the NASL. Steven and others make an awful lot of sense when it comes to their take that Orlando is doing just fine where they are. If it ain’t broke then why fix it.

    Time will tell if Orlando will be able to get the ca$h and capital that they need to make a move to MLS. I’ve said it before and I don’t mind wasting everyone’s time so I’ll say it again: If in a four years’ time they don’t see any progress in their MLS dream then many of their currently ravenous fans might just get really, really salty and lose interest, feeling as if they have been sold a vision that was more wishful thinking and romantic aspiration, rather than reality. They may lose interest in supporting the club, even if some sort of stadium deal does get done. It could turn up being “Rochester South”. If MLS never comes to Orlando then not even a move to the NASL is going to me able to help placate many of the disillusioned MLS hopeful contingent…For many of the more vocal ones it appears to be “MLS (eventually) or Bust!”

  29. Bart permalink
    October 7, 2012

    @ Yankiboy

    Respectfully, I am not sure I agree with your assessment. The crowds are not coming to OC because of a promise that they are going to MLS, they are coming because it is an attraction in that very competitive market we call Disney.

    These are some big crowds, and given that Orlando is a tourist town, I must assume that a portion of the crowd ain’t home grown, but British outsiders looking for a good time.

    Admittedly, I have no data to support this, but I would speculate this is somewhat correct.

  30. yankiboy permalink
    October 7, 2012

    Bart, you could be right (wouldn’t be a “first” or “last”). The Brit thing–I was COMPLETELY as clueless as a man could be about the Brits love of Central Florida until I spent time in Orlando last year with the Puerto Rican side of the family. Honestly, I came across more Brits down there in a couple three days than I seem to come in contact with in DC. Way more tourists. Utterly anecdotal and unscientific. But it really shocked me.

    Maybe a large part of the draw is enthralled by the event and less by the hopes that Orlando will one day move up to MLS. The vibe that I get is that a good portion of the buzz is the desire to move up to MLS in a few years time.

    But I could be dead wrong about that (wouldn’t be a “first” or “last”)…

  31. October 7, 2012

    I would guess you are partially correct, Yanki. I think we all know the same can pretty much be said for SA. I’m not saying that is going to happen or that Hartman even has those plans. I know SS&E would love to have those plans. But the fans down there can’t seem to stop talking MLS. Live in the moment people, live in the moment.

  32. Strikers Return permalink
    October 8, 2012

    I think Yanki is dead on about there being a correlation between attendance, ahem, announced attendance, in Orlando, and the huge banner they rolled out from Day 1 stating that MLS was the goal. All things staying status quo, as I said above, I think Rawlins would continue to ignore the NASL. However, I also think his ambitions to be an MLS squad would look a bit, I don’t know, cheesy maybe, if he was stuck being an MLS farm team for the next 4+ years while awaiting a chance to get into the league. Not only does it look “Mickey Mouse” (couldn’t resist LOL) but operationally speaking it’s a far different set up to run a farm team of a major league club than it is to operate an independent club just looking to move it’s operation to the top level. VERY DIFFERENT goals involved in those two situations. Besides, how could Orlando accept becoming an existing team’s farm club, while knowing all along that they fully intend to shed that spot and try to become a direct competitor to that club in the same laegue? This is the only scenario I see possible for Orlando to go to the NASL. There are some huge ifs that come first, but considering the rumors out there, it’s not exactly unrealistic by any stretch.

    I will continue to say this, and if my wife allowed me to gamble I’d take all bets on it as well. LOL NY2 WILL BE team #20. NO ONE is getting in ahead of them. I think those estimates we saw come out for their start up are very conservative. I think they could get on field by 2015 if everthing went very well in the process between now and then, especially if it is with a team already playing games and building toward it(Cosmos). But smart of the commish to err on the side of caution in tossing out guesstimates. Let’s say 2016 is a “fair guess.” Then we have that famous pause Garber is on record with. What’s a pause? The league is at a point now where it can be VERY choosy about where it goes after the obvious NY2. There is no need at all for them to hurry. There will be no huge windfall or influx of success for the league overall by adding another team in any market other than NY (think TV) at this point. It’s just a matter of continuing to build up and grow.

    The league is in a great place right now. Just look at yesterday’s Seattle/Portland game to get an idea. They don’t NEED to rush and add Orlando, or Minnesota, or anyone else at this point. The benefits of NY2 are obvious, and you understand, even if you don’t like, why Garber and the league are extremely focused to the point of actually doing all the work to get the stadium deal done themselves. MLS never NEEDS to even go beyond 20. I think they will, eventually. But this isn’t 10 years ago. Expansion is a completely different animal now, with different considerations.

    Orlando, IF it has the proper financial backing, IF it convinces local government to give them tax payer funds to build an SSS, IF the operation holds together in the face of what is nearly certain to be awhile before MLS even becomes a possibility, IF the league does grant them a franchise, then I don’t know how anyone can realistically take into account all factors and expect to see an MLS team on the field in Orlando, in an SSS until 2017 or 2018 at the soonest.

  33. Strikers Return permalink
    October 8, 2012

    And I’d also bet that Downs winds up being invovled in making the Cosmos NY2 for MLS at some point. Just a hunch.

  34. John permalink
    October 8, 2012

    if downs leave does that change to whole expansion standpoint
    will that mean nasl gets st louis by 2014 because that is what david downs wanted
    and the question is what role will the new commish take
    what s his vision for nasl
    will see a growth of a strong independent second division league
    will he try to amend the usl and nasl feelings among each other

  35. John permalink
    October 8, 2012

    if downs leave does that change to whole expansion standpoint

  36. October 8, 2012

    John:

    Commissioner works for owners. Downs “wanted” St. Louis because that’s what the owners wanted. If that’s still something they want, it doesn’t matter who the commissioner is.

  37. Silly permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Striker,

    Nice shot at OC. I can tell you first that I am no fan of OC, but the games I attended at in the Citrus Bowl the Butts were in the seats. Don’t be mad at them for drawing more fans than your team.

  38. Stephen permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Without question I think, Orlando’s reported attendance is accurate. The debate, however, is how many of them are paying customers? I read last month in an interview with Rawlins that his team wasn’t yet making a profit, but the “long-term strategy” was to have them making a profit after the next calendar year. Simply stated, they’ve been handing out a ton of free tickets but are slowly weaning that away hoping everyone start buying tickets.

    We’ll see how it all turns out. Along with the stadium. And their MLS bid.

    Lest we forget Rochester, who had the stadium and support, but lost the MLS bid anyway. If I was in Orlando city government, I would want a guarantee from the MLS saying I was actually going to get a team before I actually build OCSC a stadium.

    Any rumors about an NASL team being announced? Only about 2 weeks left before that self-imposed deadline.

  39. El Padre permalink
    October 8, 2012

    I have a hunch Downs is going back to NY without any specific plans for employment but will land on his feet as an MLS consultant.
    My hope is that the MN Stars win the NASL Cup this year because it will be tough for a league to defund its only champion to date. It would also presumably make the team more attractive to investors.
    However, to get back to the departure of David Downs as Comissioner of the NASL, I just don’t accept that it was a matter of geography, I really think that this does not bode well for the NASL. It has the distinct feel, with no disresepct for Mr Downs who I feel is a class act, that the rats are leaving the ship. I hope I’m wrong, because I love Div. II soccer, but I think this points to organizational difficulties, personality conflicts, or competing visions in NASL which is not good for something as fragile as a nascent professional sports league. Just when I thought the Div. II roller coaster was over, this makes me want to hold on tight because it is going to be a wild ride for the next year or two.

  40. Deacon Joseph Suaiden permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @yankiboy: Respectfully, I shall assume the sarcasm in your tone is just your general manner of speech.

    In the first place, the Cosmos are part of NY’s sports lore. I’d bet that there are a number of New Yorkers who think the Cosmos never left. (They’d only be half-right). MLS chose to ignore that history way back when because it wanted to rewrite the narrative. Their time’s up.

    It is in the interest of the MLS to keep growth slow and limited to avoid owner coups and not upset the current sports status quo in the US– and it is in the interest of President Gulati to grow MLS. Believing that the USSF is in MLS’ hands is not conspiracy theory. Its president has an interest in an MLS club (the NE Revolution) so that’s a conflict. For this symbiosis, FIFA thinks MLS is a joke league.

    Don Garber, former president of NFL Europe, is interest in making the league profitable, controllable, and possibly keeping his old employers happy. Don’t have proof of the last, but you can’t deny it’s reasonable considering some of MLS’ strange moves like the salary cap.

    Until the Cosmos acquisition, USL was the biggest threat to NASL, because they had MLS’ blessing to be DII and DIII. However, the Brazilian-media-conglomerate owned NASL now got back the Cosmos just when MLS realized Energy Drink FC was a failure, and decided to add a second team to muffle the cries of humiliation from NY.

    By contrast Downs had a real interest in the game and its stability. With an unlimited “D2 in name only” league (without pro/rel the divisions are meaningless) and a rich sense of history, stability became too palpable a risk after the Cosmos purchase. I am most inclined to believe that someone in MLS would be most afraid of what NASL is capable of because of that history. Certainly bringing back the Chiefs name from the Atlanta apes was no accident. Wonder if that’s still going to happen.

    I hope MLS makes Empire FC their new NY2 team. It will make MLS’ future in NY hilarious.

    Of course, destabilizing the NASL could be problematic for the Cosmos and the Florida teams. We’ll see. Unfortunately, MLS is itself also on shakier ground than they’d like to appear. Depending on how long we have on this earth, we may all watch the inevitable process of catastrophic change– because teams naturally outgrow leagues, because teams make legends. Leagues record them.

    I can’t see how the facts and deductions above make me a bunker-ready customer. I do like Kool-Aid, but I can’t drink it every day.

    On another note, the world has an end, so our focus should be on saving our souls. Soccer is for free time.

  41. Strikers Return permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @Silly – I clarified my statement regarding Orlando’s attendance by specifically calling it “announced” attendance. You can announce any number you want, and you can devise whatever way to come up with that number that you want. But for me, the only thing that matters is PAID attendance. I’m sure Orlando has pretty much the same number sitting in seats as they announce. But hanging your hat so proudly on attendance numbers when, by the admission of their fans even, a large number of them are freebies, is just pretty weak. The only thing I am jealous about is the fact that Orlando’s FO seems more pro-active about getting people in through the gates than mine has been overall. I’m seeing improvements at Strikers HQ, but still a long way to go. If some things I’m hearing recently are true, then I think we’re going to see even bigger strides next year in improving things here.

    @Deacon – Umm, wow. I certainly hope the Lord isn’t going to make me pay for this, but, I think we may finally have gotten our first glimpse of somehow is prfoundly delusional as WSW when it comes to the NASL….. Look my friend, I’m all in on the NASL. Lots of fans, even some of my fellow Striker Likers are hellbent on getting their NASL team into MLS. Me, well, I’m on original Striker Liker, so as long as I can continue taking my family to Lockhart and watch my team play in a league that is stable, I don’t really care if it is NASL or MLS. Sure MLS would be nice, but it’s not necessary for my continued support.

    Anyhow, I think you are presuming MLS has WAY TOO MUCH power in regards of the USSF, and all of the other leagues and organizations in this region. Downs is out as commish because MLS conspired to make it happen? Dude…wtf…..either you’re sharing WSW’s kool-aid container, or you guys are twins separated at birth. You’re all over the place in that last post. Garber is secretly trying to make the NFL happy? Huh?!? And what’s with all the doomsday subtleties? Has the whole Mayan calendar thing got you rattled???

  42. Footy76 permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @Strikers Return When I first heard the notion I didn’t doubt it for a bit. That would be a prefect move for him maybe like a GM or something for the Cosmos.

  43. WSW permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Here is the answer for OC: regarding Indy.

    He said in an interview on Monday, because the organization has MLS aspirations, he sees the NASL as the best vehicle to make that happen.

    So OC if you are trying to save money and stay in USL tell that to Garber.

  44. yankiboy permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @Deacon: First things first: If you are an actual deacon and not just named “Deacon”, I would never have used such a familiar tone. Until you state otherwise, I’m just going to assume that you are a deacon and change my tone to one that I feel to be more appropriate for a “man of the cloth”.

    Thank you very much for such a detailed response. We agree on a few points on a few–such as the importance and relevance of the New York Cosmos, being one.

    A second major point of disagreement is your belief that someone in MLS fears the NASL. Now that it is evident that you appear to be steadfast in that belief-one that I can personally not find any basis for, given the landscape of soccer and sports in the US–I will just state my disagreement and leave it as such.

    I didn’t get flippant with Padre when he posted here and I don’t plan on conducting myself any differently with any other clergy that may participate in discussions online.

    Even I have limits.

    I apologize for referring to you as “Bro”. While always used affectionately, is wasn’t appropriate in you case.

    Thank you for your understanding.

  45. Deacon Joseph Suaiden permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Yes, I am a real live married Orthodox deacon. Don’t feel though you have to behave differently, however. We are people, and the truth is clergy posting on sports forums are (or should be) aware of where they are as well. That said, while it’s good to be respectful to clergy I opine we should use that with all Christians, not just the ordained. Clergy are human and we can say some pretty nasty things too. Please don’t be afraid to disagree or fire off a zinger (I do so on a regular basis on Twitter.)

    As for my belief that MLS is somehow afraid of the NASL, this comes from the fact that I am a fairly new MLS watcher (3 years). However, I’ve seen enough and read enough to realize that the sort of positional stance they take is that they invented soccer in America, and when they reference the past, it’s to slam it in the hopes a younger generation will think the NASL was a giant failure. Take the salary cap. You can’t hear it mentioned on TV without hearing “because if we spend too much it will become like the NASL”.

    The old NASL’s attendance numbers often rivalled MLS. Statistically, in its heyday (let’s take their best year, 1980), their attendance was the same as MLS on average– in 2003. (It’s jumped an average of 3,000 people since then, which isn’t bad, but isn’t quite spectacular either.) In NY, the disparity is even more shocking: the Red Bulls average 10-17ooo a game, whereas the Cosmos averaged around 40000. In other words, MLS’ huge touted growth is really not that much larger than the market before MLS existed.

    As far as I can see, a league so self-congratulatory about its accomplishments, with owners of a number of other sports teams quietly sitting on the board of governors, while having basically accomplished little more than a whole bunch of stadium building, strikes me as a prop.

    A revived NASL means MLS’ history rewrite (and USL’s control of the lower divisions in the old status quo) comes to an end– unless it is fully controlled. The problem is the NASL formed to take control away from USL. I don’t think most of those owners are too willing to just hand everything over to MLS either.

    And I wouldn’t believe they actively disliked the NASL or wanted it to fail except it’s pretty much a desperate obsession on the part of the haters. I remember trying to update the NASL wiki article (I was quite excited by developments) to find everything I wrote deleted minutes later repeatedly. Eventually you have to wonder if those are obsessed USL fans (if there is such a thing) or, well, employees.

    For fun today I tried to add a “continuity link” on the old NASL wiki article. It was deleted minutes later. (I undid it.) :) Some people really liked the old way.

  46. Deacon Joseph Suaiden permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @Strikers Return: What is WSW? I’ve been looking it up a bit. West-south-west?

    How is it crazy to assume that if the USSF President is also President of the New England Revolution that there isn’t any potential conflict of interest favoring MLS?

    By the way, I doubt you will get in trouble for correcting any clergyman for ignorance on sports. Except maybe Papa PAOK. But then again, that’s not God one should fear, it’s rioting hooligans.

  47. Deacon Joseph Suaiden permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Oh, WSW is a person. Sorry.

  48. Gazza permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @Deacon

    The attendance numbers you quote are very misleading and MLS has every reason to tout the huge growth in fans at the stadiums. Most of the ticket revenue from the NY Cosmos support did not go to the club or the NASL. Which is why over the entire history of the Cosmos they never once had a season which they made a profit. They could have average 77,000 fans per matchwith all the best talent in the world – the team still would have lost money and NASL would have still folded. In MLS since most of the venues are owned by the clubs the revenue stays in MLS and used to develop the game and the league.

    And Garber is creating a sustainable and top league properly because it’s what’s best for the long term futute of soccer in America and has nothing to do with the fact that he use to be involved with NFL Europe. To suggest he’s keeping MLS small because he’s afraid of Roger Goddell is beyond hilarious!!

  49. Deacon Joseph Suaiden permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @Gazza You are conflating league control and profit. Perhaps greater accountability was needed in the old NASL. I don’t deny that. But let’s not kid ourselves. As late as last year, Garber was stating that less than a third of MLS’ franchises were making a profit. That would be 5 teams or less.

    http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2011/11/21/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/MLS.aspx

    So although MLS is putting more money into the league, that doesn’t mean (a) the current system is better than the first or (b) it will be profitable for everyone long-term. Bottling fan revenues is not the solution. Increasing fan bases is.

    Nor am I putting all the blame on Don Garber. I was citing an example, an obvious one, of why I don’t trust MLS leadership. We obviously disagree on what is needed to tap into the sport’s popularity in America.

    I’m not going to sit here are go over MLS talking points, however. The structure of MLS is foreign even to other US sports:

    “MLS has, to say the least, a unique structure, even for a sports league.   MLS retains significant centralized control over both league and individual team operations.   MLS owns all of the teams that play in the league (a total of 12 prior to the start of 2002), as well as all intellectual property rights, tickets, supplied equipment, and broadcast rights.   MLS sets the teams’ schedules;  negotiates all stadium leases and assumes all related liabilities;  pays the salaries of referees and other league personnel;  and supplies certain equipment.

    At issue in this case is MLS’s control over player employment.   MLS has the “sole responsibility for negotiating and entering into agreements with, and for compensating, Players.”   In a nutshell, MLS recruits the players, negotiates their salaries, pays them from league funds, and, to a large extent, determines where each of them will play.   For example, to balance talent among teams, it decides, with the non-binding input of team operators, where certain of the league’s “marquee” players will play.” – -http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-1st-circuit/1441684.html

    I assume you would say the above is a good thing. I am sorry, but I think it’s demented.

  50. Strikers Return permalink
    October 10, 2012

    @Deacon Joseph – My apologies first sir. Frankly we don’t get many pastors posting on soccer forums, or at least not that we’re aware of. Honestly I still don’t know if you truly are a Deacon, but I was raised properly enough to say I’ll err on the side of honesty and proceed as such.

    Now that is out of the way, I’ve got to say I’m still taken aback by some of your stances. There is some kind of logic to the things you’re saying. But at the end of the day, MLS is a stable, 19, soon to be 20 team first division league in the US, and has show plenty of growth since its birth. Slow growth to be sure, but growth none the less. They are currently operating under their best ever tv contract, and I think all indications are that their next one will be even better. I think most followers would agree that the level of play has improved as well.

    Comparitively speaking, and keep in mind I am a supporter of an NASL team, not an MLS one, the NASL is light years behind them. Light years behind, and no warp technology to even think about catching up to them with. I am pleased to death at the NASL, to this point, doing a good job of trying to establish itself on the North American soccer pyramid as a solid D2 league. I said from the beginning that the new USSF standards were something to applaud, not fear, because they will go a long way toward letting us know once and for all if D2 soccer can actually work here. Under Downs we’ve seen good things develop for the league, with San Antonio, the Cosmos, Ottawa, and likely soon to be Indy and No. VA.

    All that said, the league isn’t that far from the precipice. I don’t think it’s moving toward it, but the moving away from it is still a long, slow process. I don’t see anything, even thinking about pure fantasy situations, where NASL could somehow close the gap between themsleves and MLS. I just don’t see any way for it to be possible. It bottom line is they shouldn’t. Just like USL shouldn’t be trying to compete with NASL. Each league needs to maintain its focus on its level of the pyramid, that’s the only way for things to settle and work out for the ebst for everyone. MLS as D1 should be in a leadership position, but they shouldn’t be dominating everyone and everything else. Rather they should be working to help the lower levels and the national team program to facilitate what should be a working goal for everyone invovled in the game in this country – improving our players and our teams.

    Anyway, I got side tracked soap boxing a bit. I think SUM was a “necessary evil” to maintain stability and keep the wheels from falling off for MLS. Will the league outgrow it someday? Maybe. But with the top European teams showing a lot of financial hardship, maybe that will keep SUM in place longer than some optimists might like. Someday a group of the more financially well off teams might try and force a change for everyone. And if that’s what is best, it will happen naturally at the right time. No need to break apart things now when stability is still needed as you pointed out with your stat of so few teams earning a profit still.

  51. Deacon Joseph Suaiden permalink
    October 10, 2012

    @Strikers Return Since I am not here to proselytize I am not sure whether I am a deacon or not is really relevant, but I was really ordained a deacon at the Abbey of the Holy Name in West Milford, NJ by Metropolitan John of New York (Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas and British Isles) about 5 years ago. I am what is known as an “Old Calendarist”, or True Orthodox. In the group picture taken on our website of our latest continental diocesan meeting I am the top-left most fat fellow who doesn’t fit well into his cassock. I will leave it at that.

    My main concern remains the quality of play. My view is that for all the “trimmings” of MLS (SSS, national TV contracts, et cetera), the level of play is not substantially better than that in lower divisions. The USOC proves it. And so what’s actually happening is that the divisions seem to be developing based on financial reasons rather than actually improving the American game. Raw demographic shifts means the fan base would have automatically increased anyway, so I don’t think MLS can take credit.

    True local support means real local advertising and real community involvement. We need to figure out how to make the sport profitable, and that can only be done first at the local level. I don’t think after almost 20 years MLS has been successful at that one simple task.

    Is MLS was interested in leadership as opposed to control, there would be no discussions of “MLS-2″, et cetera. I am going to go out even further on a limb and disagree about the new USSF standards. Without them, the NASL wouldn’t be “on a precipice” to begin with– because they wouldn’t have had to have their largest owners subsidizing three teams.

    If we take out the multi-million contracts, SUM, and MLS out of the picture, it says something about our real “level” of organization. For example, if you took out the Premier League in England, the structure of soccer would still look largely the same. Take out MLS from the picture– especially in terms of the SSS– and the truth is that the underlying structure of soccer in this country is in ruins. When we work on rebuilding that, I will believe we are serious about developing the sport. And so will most soccer fans.

  52. El Padre permalink
    October 10, 2012

    I agree whole heartedly about the D2 standards hurting the NASL. I was at a meeting where Francisco Marcos said that they were put in place by the USSF as a punishment for their aspirations to challenge the MLS as the only D1 league.
    I know that I get ridiculed every time I say it, but I was intimtely involved with the Islanders when Aaron Davidson convinced them to switch loyalties from USL1 to the NASL. The two biggest selling points to the Islanders was that the USL Pro was self relegating to D3 (although obviously their hope was to wait for the self destruction of the NASL and become the defacto D2) and that Davidson was proposing the idea of raising the NASL to D1 without the multimillion dollar franchise fees required by the MLS. The idea was that Traffic would secure television rights to the US national team & Mexico and then require the channels who wanted to show those games to buy a package which included NASL games as well. That revenue was seen as the key to erase any gap between the MLS and NASL. Of course they never secured the US national team rights which changed the whole dynamic, but that planted the seed in the minds of the owners in NASL that competition with MLS was possible.
    That is one thing that struck me about David Downs’ tone in discussing NASL. Given what I had witnessed from Davidson & Marcos, I was surprised to hear Mr. Downs speak of how the NASL was very happy with its D2 status. I think that did much to heal the rift with MLS & the USSF. However, all of that changed when the Cosmos joined the NASL. It essentially forced the MLS/USSF’s hand in that if they don’t make the Cosmos the 20th franchise as NY2, they wind up with a rival league with the biggest brand in US soccer history. It rekindles the NASL’s D1 aspirations.
    In my personal discussions with Mr. Downs and other officials from the NASL (not Aaron Davidson) I had the distinct idea that they were content with remaining D2 and simply solidifying their position in the US soccer pyramid. I have the suspicion that the coming of the Cosmos has reset the tension and that it was not a conflict that Mr. Downs wanted to be a part of given his close ties to the USSF. That is my hunch as I no longer have my former position with the Islanders and my other sources have dried up. I just never got the feeling that Commissioner Downs wanted that fight and that is why he is departing.
    I think, if the Cosmos don’t become NY2/MLS20, the USSF/MLS is going to put the smackdown on the NASL.
    Who becomes the new commissioner will say a lot about where this goes. If it is Aaron Davidson, for example, or another intimately involved in the TOA (remember them?), it means that the NASL choose to fight and it could get ugly. If the new commissioner echoes David Downs’ conciliatory tones and acceptance of D2 status for the league then I will admit I’m wrong and there will be peace in the US soccer pyramid.

  53. Deacon Joseph Suaiden permalink
    October 10, 2012

    @Padre — I am glad I have internal confirmation of what some folks had already suspected: that when the NASL was formed its intention was to take over the pyramid. With that, I disagree on only one thing, and that is whether Commissioner Downs was a conciliator for USSF or an enabler for the NASL in hostile territory– I believe he was the latter.

    Someone earlier pointed out that the commissioner takes into serious account the will of the owners. In that, I was impressed by David Downs’ methodology and would argue that he was only “apparently” conciliatory, and by the time MLS/USSF realized exactly what the endgame was, it was too late. (My view is that he retired to avoid the fallout from next year when soccer in America becomes newsworthy, complete with more corporate intrigue).

    I’ll give two examples: (1) He didn’t have to say he was challenging MLS to do so. He simply had to restate the obvious– that the NASL was the continuation of the old NASL. This is why there are USL folk who have to keep changing the wikis, et cetera, even if that didn’t wash with the media. (2) His statements were generally well-thought out in that they didn’t challenge the MLS narrative so much as ignore it: one of his first statements as commissioner explaining the popularity of soccer existent in North America– which forced listeners to question exactly how well served our soccer nation really is. The dialogue was less about “new” markets (soccer in America has no “new” markets) but underserved markets.

    In that context, New York is an underserved market. And I am sure that next year, if online TV isn’t already firmly established to the ownership as the way of the future (I watch my games on a Roku box) then there are enough local channels who will gladly show Cosmos games instead of reruns of Felicity.

    Mark my words: the Cosmos joining NASL was perhaps the greatest chess move orchestrated in the American game in our generation. (We haven’t even talked about FIFA yet either.) Now this can only progress one of two ways– and I’ll make a prediction for next year, assuming God grants us breath:

    If the next commissioner will follow a similar line as the previous one (provided he isn’t a plant or stooge for MLS) and will follow the will of the owners– the NASL will have a banner season due to the Cosmos and the switch in schedule will mean less overlap and direct competition with MLS. (Did I mention FIFA yet?) By the end of the year, there will be at least three more team signings. A strong USOC performance would be devastating for the status quo. In such a scenario, MLS will at that point NEED the Cosmos to maintain their own credibility, and begin changing its structure to accomodate allowing in the Cosmos with a fee of a dollar. If they have a bad season, the Cosmos will remain a thorn in the side of one of the largest markets in the country, meaning MLS will still have to find a way to fence them in. If the deal isn’t acceptable, NASL will at that point be in a position to compete for D1.

    If, however, the Cosmos are moderately successful and this doesn’t completely trickle down to the rest of the NASL (a near impossibility in a league this size) MLS “legacy” (read: former NASL team) owners are going to begin to wonder how they are doing so much with less. Meanwhile MLS-2 talk will become much more prominent as a defense mechanism. The NASL ownership will then dig its heels in– MLS will have to change policies.

    In other words, if the Cosmos aren’t in MLS by hook or by crook by 2014– they will get that desperate as the year goes on– it will be the beginning of the end for MLS. And a new– arguably more visible than ever– beginning for pro soccer in America.

  54. Strikers Return permalink
    October 11, 2012

    Wow. I sit in my chair at work with my jaw on my desktop. I’ve seen a lot of conspiracy theories and insider stories in my time….but…wow. First the positives to my comments. I was HIGHLY entertained! You guys spin some intriguing tales. WSW’s incessant ramblings are like those of a child compared to depth and obviously thoughtful narratives you two have given us above.

    Now, let me preface my remaining comments by saying that, even fantastical stories and chains of events like we read above are almost always based on fact to a certain degree. I have no doubts at all about the ambitions of Mr. Davidson, and I guarantee you he’s a salesman the likes of which even Joe Biden would be envious. But here’s the thing. In order to get to the end of those dreams, a WHOLE LOT of things would have to fall perfectly into place. We’re talking like a 5,000 piece, double-sided jigsaw puzzle here folks.

    Let’s focus on a couple of the lynch pins. The Cosmos. There is a prize out there right now, a prize that MLS holds the golden ticket for – a brand new SSS in Queens, and along with it a slot, likely the last slot to be handed out for awhile, in D1. It’s no secret the Cosmos want it. What they are doing, and smartly if you ask me, and I think a guy like Wilt would agree considering his comments about Indy, is they are getting their brand out of the discount racks at Ross, and actually onto a field playing competitive games again. They are building an organization, probably in a way that mirrors what Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle have all done recently, one that builds its foundations playing in D2, and when given the green light, will more easily be able to transition themselves to MLS. I’ve said it 1000 times now – if my wife would allow me to gamble, I’d take every bet I could on it, NY2 will be #20 in MLS, and as long as the Cosmos don’t mess it up, they will either move up in 2015 or 2016, or at the very least, they’ll get in as minority owners with the brand in hand, or failing all that, they’ll sell the brand to whoever does get the team. MLS team 20 will be the Cosmos. I can’t foresee it happening any other way.

    And if the Cosmos are just using the NASL for 2 – 3 years to get up and running and re-establish the power of the brand connected to an actual team playing actual games, the catalyst for this dream of NASL challenging MLS is gone. Poof. Look, the partnership with NASL for even just 2 years is well worth it for the league. It raises the league’s profile, it shows other potential investors like those in Indy that the league is legit and worth getting into if you meet the standards. And new teams and investors help solve the league’s biggest current problems – too much ownership by Traffic. Either those teams get bought, or worst case, new ones come in and Traffic can drop a couple of them. God forbid that happens, I’d hate to see any fanbase lose its team. But at the end of the day this is a business, and everyone has their limits for losing money.

    And I couldn’t disagree more with you gentlemen about the standards. There was a very good reason these standards were put in place, and it has nothing to do with trying to keep the NASL in check. Lower level leagues were keeping themselves from ever even thinking about challenging MLS as a D1 league for decades now thanks to rampant mismanagement and careless abandon. The landscape is full of failed team carcasses, and without standards, as we’ve continued to see in USL Pro, the pile would grow larger and larger. The standards are in your face, they tell anyone sniffing around, look, we mean business. If you don’t have the cash or the intestinal fortitude it will take to get into this, have a nice day and don’t let the door hit you in the arse on your way out of the office. It created a tipping point where in the next couple of years we’ll see if D2 can actually survive in North America, or if it is a pipe dream and we’re still not ready, if we ever will be.

    Every guy has a time or two where they think to themself, damn, I’d love to be shacking up with Catherine Zeta Jones! But along the way most of us figure out that we don’t need some ultra hot chick to be happy and thrive in life. There’s more to it. I think even the biggest dreamers in the NASL realize the same thing. D1 would be dynamite, but D2 can be solid, stable, and we can have a nice long run with it if we can get it set up, stabilized, and grow it right. There aren’t many spots left in MLS. I’m sure we’ll go beyond 20, but I don’t think the idea that we’ll someday get up to 30 is at all realistic. What have we heard over the last few years about the big pro leagues in the US having so many teams? Too many have nots at the bottom of the barrel and the word contraction has been tossed around. And MLS isn’t anywhere near the brand or power of even the NHL or NBA where these things are dicussed seriously.

    Once MLS is full, be it 22, or 24 tops I’d guess, then there is opportunity for D2 and D3 to really start filling out if the game overall continues to grow in popularity in our region. If you’re shut out of MLS, but you have a market that craves pro soccer, there will be other places to go. And who knows what the future holds with existing teams, there is always a chance spots could open, or teams could move. I just don’t think, despite your scenarios above, there is any realistic chance or opportunity that will arise to allow NASL to catch up to MLS. And please don’t mention the USOC anymore, it only hurts your argument.

  55. yankiboy permalink
    October 11, 2012

    El Padre, thanks a lot for sharing the insights.

    The part concerning the USSF trying to take punitive action against the NASL in response to the league’s (alleged) division aspirations coming from O Presidente Marcos is quite ironic because I remember when O Presidente was drinking from the same punch bowl full of citrus flavored crazy.

    O Presidente was trying to entice others to take a nice, large swig from said punch bowl, I realized that he had crossed the line from visionary to a gentleman that I had to selectively take with a grain of salt at times.

    I’ll never forget Marcos using a USL Breakaway segment about five years ago to state his belief that the USL First Division could one day become a legitimate, US first division sanctioned by the USSF. He elaborated by stating that there was no rule or by-law that limited the USSF to only being able to designate division one status to just one league/entity (MLS). He stated his hope and vision for USL First Division to develop to become a more economical, first division league, capable of competing with MLS as an alternative for ownership groups that didn’t particularly care for the MLS economic model but who still wanted to put an entertaining, quality product one the field.

    He did it with a straight face. I about fell of my couch in amazement and confusion. It was one of those “Ah, HECK NO–Did he really just let those words leave his lips?!?!!!” moments.

    That’s when I knew that there was going to have to be a SERIOUS reality check down in Tampa at USL headquarters because there is ambition and there is absurdity. When O Presidente made the statements that I am recounting, on camera, no less-it became pretty clear to me that he had lost the plot. That’s when I personally started hoping that there would be a shift in the balance of power at USL in order to offset Mr. Marcos’ dilusions that the USL First Division could one day be sanctioned by the USSF as some sort of first division “b”.

    It wasn’t about whether or not he technically corprect in his assessment that had me so disconcerted; it was the fact that it indicated a huge “disconnect” from where the USL was at at that time and a much more viable, realistic vision for the USL First Division product–one that didn’t include dilusions of some mythical, parallel first division status along side of MLS. I don’t think you needed a professional sports background to dismiss the obvious and potential pitfalls of pursuing such an ill-advised path.

    Kinda cracks me up that O Presidente Marcos was the messenger about the USSF’s alleged intentions of trying to penalize the NASL for aspiring to challenge MLS status as the only sanctioned first division.

    The idiom “takes one to know one” comes to mind…

  56. Bart permalink
    October 11, 2012

    @Strikers Return

    I am sorry, but I NEED a hot chick like Ms. Zeta Jones, and that is why I married my beautiful bride so many years ago. I simply would not be satisfied with some plain Jane. You might be able to, but not this sexy senior citizen!

    (go ahead, hit me here and there and there, dear!)

  57. Deacon Joseph Suaiden permalink
    October 11, 2012

    @yankiboy No chance there’s video of that segment is there? I’d like to see it.

    @Strikers Return Glad you’re entertained, but I still think it’s possible! Although when you said “In order to get to the end of those dreams, a WHOLE LOT of things would have to fall perfectly into place. We’re talking like a 5,000 piece, double-sided jigsaw puzzle here folks” —

    I had to admit this movie clip ran through my head.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX5jNnDMfxA

  58. El Padre permalink
    October 11, 2012

    @Yankiboy O presidente Marcos mentioned that at the meeting too. He said that he regretted letting the USL 1 team owners convince him of that possibility. He said that the MLS pulled off the greatest coup in history because he said, MLS took the biggest agitators (Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, and Montreal) , silenced their opposition, and got them to pay tens of millions of dollars to MLS for the honor of surrendering control of their teams over to the league. He said that if a challenge for D1didn’t happen with that group, it could not happen with the leftovers. He said that the ace up MLS’s sleeve is that they can always poach the successful upstart clubs and get them to pay them and shut up.
    Mr. Marcos said that until all of the D2 teams unite in agreeing not to pay for promition of individual teams to the MLS, they will never pose a serious threat. He said he ruined his USL1 league entertaining the idea of competing with MLS and those owners left him high & dry. He was very bitter about it.

  59. yankiboy permalink
    October 12, 2012

    @Deacon: Unfortunately, the USL Breakaway segment that I referenced can’t be found anywhere on line. Back on those days, USL didn’t upload them to YouTube like started doing after they brought it back from hiatus.

    The episode that I’m talking about was about two-three years before O Presidente got a serious reality check. In 2009, After seeing a changing second division landscape and understanding how absurd his previous position was he made a seismic shift: USL would seek to compete with MLS but only as an economical alternative and never seeking a first division status.

    As equally significant was, after realizing that the D1 aspirations were nothing more than a pipe dream, he went on record stating that the USL should receive compensation for franchises that successfully made the move up to MLS. His contention was that USL had helped develop those franchises and it was only fair for the league to receive something for its efforts.

    It was an argument that I found unintentionally amusing, seeing how those franchises bought into USL and paid annual fees; it reeked of desperation and one final “moneygrab”.

  60. October 12, 2012

    “he went on record stating that the USL should receive compensation for franchises that successfully made the move up to MLS. ”

    I do vaguely remember that, Yanki. Love how you were tracking lower level soccer in this country for so long. You are like a walking archive. ;)

    El Padre, sorry that your last comment got delayed in being posted until after Jay’s last post even if it went up last night. It got caught up in the spam and I cleared it this morning. (Yankiboy – take note)

  61. Bart permalink
    October 12, 2012

    @yankiboy

    I think you have your years mixed up. In 2009, Nike was actively seeking to sell USL, and subsequently did finalize the sale in the summer of 2009.

    Nike was keeping Marcos under a tight leash that year, wanting to maximize the potential bidders in this disposition and ensure a timely sale.

    Frankly, from a pure capitalistic perspective, I understand the Marcos argument to want compensation for breeding teams that met the threshold for MLS. The movement of these teams to MLS disrupted the competitiveness of D2 soccer, and created huge administration problems as well. The movement was good for the teams, good for MLS and if compensated for seeding MLS, good for USL.

    @ El Padre

    Your teams are slightly mixed up as well. Seattle left before Vancouver, Montreal and Portland, and was not part of the TOA issues. Portland sided with USL throughout this, as they had eyes on MLS all along. As with Vancouver and Montreal (and especially Florida/Davidson, along with Caroling/Wellman) these were agitators. Vancouver more from a philosophical perspective, but the Canadian milkman was and probably still is, a major opponent of USL/Marcos. I believe that Vancouver and Montreal still have ownership interests in NASL.

  62. yankiboy permalink
    October 12, 2012

    http://www.potomacsoccerwire.com/news/460/4562

    “OK, we cannot just fold our arms and allow MLS to come to any market…We cannot allow that to just happen without any further thoughts on it,” he said. “Seattle was the learning curve for us.”

    They are the 800-pound gorilla, so the only thing that we can contemplate doing going forward,” he explained, “is to seriously look at a concept where we say, if MLS comes calling…rest assured, you may leave, but it’s going to cost you something. Certainly if you can pay $40 million [in expansion fees] to MLS, you can pay $42 million or $43 million or they can discount it so you can pay off the indemnity to USL. So that kind of a concept is something we have to seriously think about, because we don’t have a choice.”

    O Presidente, Francisco Marcos
    November ’08

    @Bart: It was so late in the year that I rounded it to ’09. My bad on that one. Thanks for the reminder and the additional context for the USL situation in ’09. After so many laughable USL/TOA/USSF D-2/NASL moments over the years, it was an easy botch for me to make.

  63. yankiboy permalink
    October 12, 2012

    As I stated on the IMS NASL podcast (Ding! Ding! Ding)-D2′s replacement had better be a Yank with excellent knowledge of the US Soccer landscape. An excellent executive and a great salesman because it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to field a team in USLPRO. Even if they can meet the USSF second division requirements, I can easily understand why a lot of potential ownership groups would opt for USLPRO instead of the NASL.

    With Peter Wilt not being an option-they had better not botch the hire. They should still recruit Wilt. Make an attempt and if he passes then at least you know that you gave it your best shot.

  64. Bart permalink
    October 12, 2012

    I think NASL should recruit Francisco Marcos to be the Commissioner, that is the breath of life that NASL needs. He has the experience, the understanding of the game, and he has great salesmanship!

    Marcos, Marcos, Marcos….!!

  65. yankiboy permalink
    October 12, 2012

    ^^^@Bart: Thanks for not disappointing me.

    You took so long to shoot that arrow that I started to think that you were going to leave it in the quiver forever. I was expecting it several days earlier. :)

  66. Bart permalink
    October 12, 2012

    @yankiboy

    When you have a wife that needs to beat you into submission once or twice a week, you need a certain amount of recovery time, if your lovely bride did the job right.

    She hit me in the head a few times this week with her leather whip, you know, the one with the metal cattails, so I needed extra recovery time.

    The connection between Marcos and NASL is just so obvious and righteous, that in my haze, I almost missed the shooter on that grassy knoll in Dallas. Think about it for a minute. If Marcos is Commissioner, he has the ear of Holt and Papadakis and can negotiate a merger between the parties once again.

    Just think of a USL/NASL merger…Marcos rules again!!!

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