U.S. Soccer rejects both USL and NASL second division applications

Us soccer

Aside from ongoing CBA negotiations in Major League Soccer, one of the biggest stories from the domestic offseason has been the split of USL and the creation of the new NASL. Both leagues had submitted application to the U.S. Soccer Federation in hopes of fielding a sanctioned, second-division league in 2010. However, in a blow to both leagues and second division soccer in general, the USSF voted unanimously to not sanction either the new NASL or USL next year.

“After carefully reviewing the findings from the Task Force it was clear there are still too many uncertainties for both organizations, which would be extremely difficult to resolve in a timely fashion that would allow them to prepare for the 2010 season,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati in a press release.

Both leagues were rejected under the grounds of being unable to field the eight teams required by U.S. Soccer in 2010. For the moment, there is no longer a second division league in the USA, as neither earned the formal recognition. Both leagues were given seven days to work out the situation in hopes of creation a workable situation for second division soccer next year.

What do you think of the development? Surprised to see the USSF go in this direction? Will it be worked out in time?

Share your thoughts below.

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75 Responses to U.S. Soccer rejects both USL and NASL second division applications

  1. Lorenzo says:

    So could Portland, Vancouver, or Montreal join MLS or is that an ridiculous idea? I mean they are not far off from being able to joing, they have stadiums to play in right? It would be amazingly tough to prepare it all for the season but…

  2. Lorenzo says:

    Wow… so is NPSL the only thing left? is USL2 (3rd div) still sanctioned? Could they both/either apply through Canada?

  3. Eric K says:

    Perhaps this will force the USL and NASL to sit down and figure out a solution (combination).

  4. EDB says:

    Good decision. It forces the two sides to work something out and US Soccer doesn’t get dragged into the fight.

  5. Lorenzo says:

    Does the lack of NASL & USL1 work in favor of the executives in the CBA, does it mean that there is a stronger case against single-entity MLS in the court system?

  6. ZacIndy says:

    So did the old USL get unsactioned, or was it never sactioned as a second division in the first place? That is to say, that there never has been a second division and this was the first attempt.

  7. CACuzcatlan says:

    I think it must have been unsanctioned. Possibly an automatic unsanctioning when it dropped below 8 teams. Ives, have any info on this?

  8. AF92 says:

    USL-1 was sanctioned as D-2, but it sounds like they have lost that sanctioning while NASL has failed to achieve it.

  9. JSW says:

    A-League/USL-1 have always been division 2, but with the sundering neither are now (don’t meet requirements). USL-2 is still D3, PDL/NPSL are still D4.

  10. AF92 says:

    I believe single entity stood up before due to the abundance of 1st division leagues throughout the world. D-2 sanctioning should have no effect one way or the other.

  11. smacking says:

    That’s my guess. Rather than choosing sides US Soccer is likely trying to force a solution.

  12. Paul says:

    I’ve heard rumors of a contingency in place for the remaining USL 1 teams (div 2) to combine with the USL 2 division (div 3) for 2010. Leaving the NASL teams with no immediate league to play in for 2010. Not sure if there is truth to the rumors, but seems like the most probable strategy for the USL and it’s pro fessional level teams.

  13. Smith says:

    Okay, folks. Merge & be MLS 2.

  14. Duck says:


  15. Jimmy Bobo says:

    I really am impressed by the backbone shown by the USSF. It was entirely unexpected. I am certain that these two leagues (USL 1 and NASL) will merge and be recognized when the prospect of having no recognized league at all to play in really sinks in.

  16. kpugs says:

    All the more reason for the rest of the world to laugh at us. Italy has the population of Oregon and something like 50 times the number of soccer teams we have, all nicely organized in a tree of divisions with the appropriate promotion/relegation and all the bells and whistles.

    We have a 14 year old league that does not treat each team fairly, or as equals, that will never agree to have any teams relegated, and no second tier. Which is meaningless anyway because they can’t be promoted or relegated either.

    We are a laughing stock, and rightfully so.

  17. Brian says:

    also agreed.

  18. Michael Vann says:

    Shocked. Absolutly shocked. I thought USSF would cave in by showing favortism. I like their stance. I like the fact USSF are forcing the two sides to work it out. The bottom line is that we need a 2nd division. We need there to be opportunities to grow and develop talent. Hopefully USSF banging the gavel on table will create a solution.

  19. Quakes Fanatic says:

    Form MLS2 and bring on relegation!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Josh D says:

    No way. Teams in the “third division” can not afford the traveling expenses to compete with those guys. Hence teams like Richmond Kickers, who held their own excellently, dropped down a level – couldn’t afford the costs.

  21. Josh D says:

    Don’t see the point in having a “sanctioned” league. Do they get benefits from USSF or from FIFA for being associated with USSF? What is stopping them from just creating a league outside of FIFA’s and USSF’s reach?

    USSF and MLS are showing a strong bone now but will not stand for there not to be division two soccer this season. It would affect them too much. MLS is banking on bringing in a few more teams and they will want them to continue playing and grabbing fans, not folding for a year and trying to revamp for the following season. Doesn’t make business sense. Too much to lose.

    They are hoping for them to make peace but if they can’t, MLS will choose and NASL looks the brighter star.

  22. Brian says:

    Isn’t Don Garber chairman of this taskforce? Killing the competition perhaps?

    link to fauxfursoccershirts.blogspot.com

  23. ZacIndy says:

    Haven’t they had something like a 100 year head start. I know the FA was formed shortly after the American Civil War. We’ll get it figured out someday. And personally, I could care less if our soccer pyramid (or lack thereof) is a laughstock to Italians, but I hardly think they give to shits either way.

  24. AF92 says:

    I believe that any player who participates in an unsanctioned league would be an outlaw in the eyes of FIFA and can not participate in a sanctioned league anywhere else in the world. This is how the old NASL came into being, an unsanctioned “outlaw league” merging with the sanctioned one. Only now we have two unsanctioned leagues.

  25. ZacIndy says:

    make that “two shits”

  26. Steve says:

    Heck Yes!!! I love the idea of having relegation.

    On a somewhat related topic, anyone Follow F1? Remember when the teams wanted to form another series because they didn’t like a cap on spending. Why not have the top league be uncapped as it was, but the bottom 2 or 3 teams get re-assigned to the lower lever with a cap? That’s what would have made the most sense. Plus it makes teams focus on performing at a decent level at least.

  27. Tom says:

    First division, second division who cares? What the USSF fails to realize is that unless there is a competive path from one division to the other, the distiction is irrelevant.

    Based on past competitions it’s not clear that MLS should be an unchallenged first division.

  28. Mario in QT says:

    I just dont understand why people are so eager to kill single entity. A soccer fan who may be familiar with the story of our sport in the USA, I just dont get it.

  29. JavaLavaJoe says:

    I think we are seeing MLS flex it’s muscle to get this done….I expect it to happen.

  30. A.S. says:

    Oooh, an outlaw in FIFA’s eyes. That sounds bad.

    Really, though, what are the consequences of having an unsanctioned league? Can’t play ing the US Open Cup? (And whatever Canada has?) Or the Concacaf Champions League? Scary.

  31. soccerroo says:

    Not only players but also officials. USSF and FIFA officials would not be allowed to do games. Also those teams would not be allowed to participate in The US Open cup which is a money generator for them. I believe they would also lose the opportunity to compete in the CONCACAF Champions league since they would not be in an official legue. So there are a lot of issues that are created.

  32. JavaLavaJoe says:

    I understand your sentiment but disagree with you. If soccer were our number 1 sport then perhaps there would be reason to laugh, but given that we have 3 other major sports ahead of soccer I suggest you are comparing apples to oranges.

  33. JavaLavaJoe says:

    I predict this will all be sorted within a months time and a merged league will appear. Whether it will be MLS2 or the for-runner of MLS2 is the real question.

  34. Smith says:

    We need a truly great soccer mind to work this out. Someone far greater than we. Someone who understands the game on a whole different level. Someone studious. Someone who is a great strategist..with connections all around the world.

    (SBI-William, you must be aware that Osorio has landed a job with Once Caldas in the Colombian league. By the way, I never got to comment on your “I’ll stop ripping him when all the crap players he signed leave the Red Bulls” comment. As it stands, most of Osorio’s bigger busts have long since departed. Cichero, Pietravallo, Pacheco are all gone and Rojas is probably going to follow soon enough. Leo Krupnick and Walter Garcia were all Jeff Agoos. By the time the 2010 Red Bulls start the season I think most of Osorio’s signings (certainly the foreign ones) will be gone.)

    Ives – Can you put a call into Juan Carlos Osorio?

  35. john.q says:

    better yet… i know the true genius that can solve all of this

    his name is FREDDY ADU. he hath foreseen then and left belenese in preparation. the boy can do it all!

  36. AF92 says:

    For a 2nd division player, yes, it is very scary. No hope of going to Europe one day, no playing for your national team, yes, it is very scary for those people. And for their sake I hope this is solved soon. Obviously you do not care about any of that. Some of us do.

  37. Smith says:

    Juan Carlos & Freddy can dress up like Batman & Robin and save the world from its’ soccer ignorance! Yes, John Q! You are right. Freddy is on his way from Portugal right now, pulling splinters out of his rear ..just to save the day. He is probably meeting uo with Osorio at the airport to change into their costumes!

  38. curmudgeon says:

    Your point is good enough that hyperbole is unnecessary. Oregon population 60M.

    As for pro/rel, I think it’s cool; but the idea that a league lacks legitimacy without it is so silly that I wonder about the people who claim so. Are they just bummed they weren’t born in England or something?

  39. curmudgeon says:

    Gack, this blog software messed up my formatting, presumably treating angle brackets as tags.

    Should have appeared as:

    Oregon population less than 4M.
    Italy population greater than 60M.

  40. Tim F. says:

    Hope these clubs can play soccer in some shape or form. We need to build on the momentum in support of soccer in North America; having owners in major cities wanting to field teams in a competitive league is a good thing; having fans in these locations unable to watch them play would be a very situation. Work this out please for both these leagues!

  41. A.S. says:

    You mean the Rochester Rhinos players couldn’t be picked by Bob Bradley for the World Cup? Yikes. I see what you mean.

  42. Daniel says:

    Was the original NASL a single entity like today’s MLS?

    Was it the reason it failed?

  43. matt in detroit says:


    Italy has 60 million people and a hundred years of devotion to the sport, ignoring all others.

    Also, I couldn’t give a s**t what the eurotrash think. Aping them won’t get anywhere with the (potential) fan base.

  44. lprevolution says:


  45. ga-gone says:


  46. chg says:

    What’s your point? Italian basketball trails the Spanish league. Italian baseball sucks, and their football is nonexistent.

    Anyone who laughs at another society for differing priorities in sports is an idiot.

  47. Eric K says:

    Please, no more relegation/promotion, my head hurts just thinking about it. I’d go over the reasons why we don’t have that but we’ve done that so many times already.

    The “NASL” and USL are both so screwed up now that the USSF won’t approve things until they either settle their differences or get their houses in proper order.

  48. CACuzcatlan says:

    No, MLS is a top division. And I hope you’re not assuming that comes with Pro-Rel, cause that’s not gonna happen in this country for a long long time, if ever.

  49. Doug says:

    Ditto. No Promotion/Relegation.

    And while we’re at it, not single table and the playoffs are here to stay.

    None of these are essential to the game itself. It’s just how you reward teams.

  50. CACuzcatlan says:

    I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.

  51. John says:

    Single table doesn’t mean not playoffs. Single table with playoffs is the best-case scenario, I think.

  52. wilyboy says:

    The problem is sponsorship/funding. In England, the best way for a moneyed individual to ingratiate himself with the locals is to buy the local soccer team. The people are going to have their team and cheer them on, too, even if they are boring.

    In America, we need millionaires and billionaires to try to get the Cities interested. It’s completely flipped and unhealthy for development. Relegation brings incentive for improved play and success… but drives away the only reason we really have a league in the first place- investors who want to have their team in the first division. Someone has to figure out this conundrum before the league can be competitive, with or without relegation.

  53. B-MO says:

    Relegate players not teams. Work this crap out, we need a quality Div 2

  54. kfly says:

    Does this potentially affect the Open Cup?

  55. fur says:

    This decision is quite criminal in my mind. It is biased in the favor of MLS and doesn’t take into mind the future of Div 2 soccer. NASL, while is states otherwise, has the idea of competing against MLS. In any other sport in this country, this would be allowed. But the criminals who run soccer will not let MLS have any competition. This is their way of making sure they can keep salaries low and not have to compete for contracts.

  56. 2Nil says:

    Promotion/relegation is never going to happen in the US. At least not at the top level. The reasons are obvious enough.

    I could, however, envision promotion/relegation in the “minor leagues”, especially if MLS got invovled.

    Under my proposal, the USL/NASL clubs would partner with MLS reserve teams (DC United II, in other words) to create two tiers of minor leagues. In Year 1, they’d be divided geographically (East and West), with the top from each group forming MLS 2 the following season. From the second season on, promotion to MLS 2 would be possible for the top clubs from MLS 3 (and the MLS 2 bottom feeders would drop down, obviously).

    Not only would such a competition unify professional soccer under one umbrella, which is a goal in its own right given the present turbulence, it also would provide MLS reserve players with regular match practice and give MLS teams the freedom to expand the pool of players available to them.

  57. GunneRR says:

    NASL was not single entity. The league grew way too fast without a real foundation or TV revenue. It fell apart like a house of cards.

  58. ciscokid says:

    Well, I would guess that if both leagues are unsanctioned then those teams would not participate, allowing more level 2 and 3 teams a chance to advance. One also imagines that maybe the entire MLS competes in the tourney in that case as well

  59. jon fauxbel says:

    its time we get collectively pissed off at the ussf which is really ran by mls and stop giving them our dollars. time for to join the euro snubs,,, they really got it right,,, f::: the mls f::: the ussf ,,,

  60. Jacopo Belbo says:

    i really like the way this guy thinks. MLS as the top league and then MLS2 and MLS3 made up of MLS Reserve sides and current NASL/USL sides. The only promotion/relegation is between MLS2 and MLS3 and the classification for each to start with is done on the pitch. you might even set up the playoffs so that the top 6 teams from a single table MLS make it and 2 top MLS2 teams make it. That would really spice things up and motivate A. the MLS teams to not suck and B. the MLS2 teams to “bring it”

    i also like that this allows for one unified soccer league structure and even the possibility that if the MLS starts to loosen up on the reigns of the successful clubs a bit (sea/tor and probably phil/van/port) to spend a bit more and field a better product it will leave a place for any small market or struggling team to “self-relegate” if they find they would rather make modest money as a MLS2 side than lose money, fans and respect getting thrashed in MLS. Plus it gives the MLS a running experiment test lab for new MLS teams. This is so perfect I think that it must surely come to pass. Oh, wait … this is american soccer so anything that makes remote sense is usually ignored.

  61. TylerWalter says:

    Agreed as well. I am in favor of the United States having a promotion/relegation system. It would make football (soccer) more exciting in the US and make MLS and USL more engrossing with different competition. I think MLS should remain the top league, and perhaps the top USL clubs could join it so that MLS has roughly 18-20 teams.

    Like the British EPL, the MLS could then have it’s top three teams go to the continental tournament then. The top two could go directly to the CONCACAF Champions’ League group stage, etc. But this is ridiculous by U.S. Soccer. You can’t just have one league and that’s it.

    I see it this way. MLS…worst 3 MLS teams go to USL-1. Best 3 USL-1 teams go to MLS and worst USL-1 teams go to USL-2. The pattern works from there like this: USL-3 (which would replace the Super-20 League and NPSL), USL PDL, then there would be premier local leagues where the top teams go to the PDL. Let me know what you think

  62. Jon from Chicago says:

    The USSF have hijacked OUR game. MLS (while I’m a big supporter of the Chicago Fire) is ran ass backwards. The league owning all contracts is the 1st rule that needs to change regarding the MLS. As for relegation, BRING it! The main reason why most americans don’t follow the MLS is because its boring during certain games. Put more power to the teams and then demand the perform. If not, we will get a club from the lower divisions that will.

  63. Happy Camper says:

    haven’t been here in a while. new posting system is confusing, no?

  64. Jacopo Belbo says:

    No. No pro/rel in or out of the MLS-1 so to speak. You pony up the money for MLS-1 franchise you stay in, unless you cry uncle and “self-relegate”. As for who would come up in such a case it would be like any other expansion. I see it like this:

    MLS-1 (20 Teams): Single Table, 8 team playoffs (home/home for all rounds but the final). Starting in 2012 the teams would be Chicago, Columbus, DC, KC, NE, NYRB, Philly, Toronto, Chivas, Colorado, Dallas, Houston, LA, Salt Lake, San Jose, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Montreal, St Louis. Everyone would have a SSS w/ 18K+ by then except NE and Seattle (which has a fine set up anyway).

    MLS-2/MLS-2 would be made up of 20 teams each, to include a reserve side for each MLS-1 team. The 2011 season would include the 20 non reserve teams playing for 10 spots in MLS-2 and the 20 MLS-1 reserve teams playing for another 10 spots in MLS-2. The bottom 10 teams in each would be placed in MLS-3. There would be pro/rel between the 2 leagues, maybe 2 teams a season. And self-relegation for financial difficulties with promotion based on the next team in the standings. Each league is single table. Using guesstimates and rough logic it would look something like this for the 2012 season:

    MLS-2 (20 teams/10 MLS-1 reserve teams): Miami FC, Minnesota Thunder, Rochester Rhinos, TB Rowdies, Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RH, PR Islanders, Austin Aztex, FCNY, Ottawa FC, Chicago B, Columbus B, DC United B, NE Rev B, Toronto FC B, Chivas B, Houston B, LA Galaxy B, Seattle B, Salt Lake B

    MLS-3 (20 teams/10 MLS-1 reserve teams): Charleston Battery, Richmond Kickers, Charlotte Eagles, Harrisburg Cty Islanders, Pitt Riverhounds, Maryland Mon, West Mass Pioneers, Cleveland City Stars, CP Baltimore, Wilmington Hammerheads, KC Wiz B, NYRB B, Philly B, Colorado B, FC Dallas B, San Jose B, Portland B, Vancouver B, Montreal B, St. Louis B

    Obviously some of the teams that ended up in MLS-3 are teams that recently disbanded (Wilmington) or moved to PDL but if not them then i am sure some other teams could repalace them in the mix and would owing to being smaller end up probably in the MLS-3. It was just a rough idea with the most recent USL/NASL teams so you get the picture.

  65. Smith says:

    Yes, Ives, I am are that JCO is at Once. I wish them well. (I believe they tied their last game 2-2). True, Krupnik & Garcia were Goose’s idea & not very good ones at that. I don’t think much of him either, by the way, but by the time those guys were signed, the season was long since done for. It was actually done when they blew a 2-1- lead to DC in the 90th minute. Pachecho’s inability to clear ballsout cost us the game & by extension,the season. 2009 is on JCO in my book. Agoos is a twit for sure, but no one told JCO to keep trotting out a 4-5-1 on the road despite its repeated failure & to keep playing players out of position week after week. That was all his brilliance. Once his boys are all gone, I’ll lay off of him. Hopefully that will be soon.

  66. Supsam says:

    kpugs, did you not know that recently Serie B threatened to detach from Serie A due to some internal conflicts between the two divisions?

    So i wouldnt say “nicely organized”

  67. Supsam says:

    will never happen people and i hope it doesnt. Imagine what the league would look like if the Galaxy and New York get relegated.

  68. freddy says:

    Eight teams are required for sanctioning and neither league has 8. Jesus it isn’t that complicated USSF haters.

  69. ned flanders says:

    -Italy has the population of Oregon

    I dont hold your lack of knowlegdge against you but y0ou really should look into Wikipedia.

    And were not a laughing stock, Canada is.
    They have 30-40million people and have no soccer league and dont plan to have one. They are by far the largest country on the planet to not have a league. The city of Toronto is as big as Norway and not as cold yet Norway has a soccer league.

    Dont worry, nothing we do here will be worse than our Puerto Rico of the north.

  70. ned flanders says:

    – In any other sport in this country, this would be -allowed.

    Problem is, its not a sport with no national and international federation like most US ones. Soccer has to abide by what these federations say.
    You cant just start up a league like the XFL or USFL to try to compete against another private league.

    This has nothing to do with the MLS and all with the rules and responsabilities of playing international sports.

    Follow top world sports leagues in soccer, basketball, handball, volleyball, waterpolo, etc and you will see the structures regulating the sports on a national and international levels to be totally different to private entities like NFL, MLB, NHL which answer to no one and can do what they like.

    You seem to be confused at the differences.

  71. John in FL says:

    I don’t want to feeed the troll but your posts about Osorio, and Ives obligatory responses, always make me chuckle.

  72. Mike says:

    Anyone see the recent Boston Globe article on US soccer development and philosophy? Very interesting.
    link to bit.ly
    Happy New Year to all of you. Stay safe.

  73. SoccerDave says:

    It seems that the point being missed with the league rejection is that it started because someone was left out, then took their ball home so no one else could play.

    It seems as though USSF has taken the correct approach in not taking sides.

    This squawk isn’t so much about promotion/relegation as about power.

    IMHO, the best solution would be to have one D2 league, somehow working with MLS to help develop players by replacing the defunct reserve division. Rather than pro/rel, D2 teams could establish suitable resumes to move up into MLS.

  74. jensph says:

    Why is this important? What are the benefits of being sanctioned by USSF?

  75. TylerWalter says:

    I’m not sure if the D.C. United [which are my favorite MLS/local team] will be getting a SSS anytime soon. They’ve already had three proposals get rejected: Western Fairfax County, VA; Anacostia, DC; and PG County, MD the most recent.

    But I see what you mean, it would be a much more organized. But I’m not sure if reserve teams would be playing with ex-USL clubs. The MLS shutdown its reserve league last year, so I’m not sure if it’ll come back anytime soon. What I could see though in terms of promotion/relegation is between the MLS-2 and MLS-3 teams in this system you’ve proposed.

    As for the PDL that’ll be alone.