Over the past several months, the North American Soccer League (NASL) and United Soccer League (USL) have fought to be sanctioned as the singular Division 2 league in the USSF Soccer sanctioning pyramid. Both leagues were missing key factors in the USSF guidelines. It was also rumored that one league (USL) even had the chance to admit all teams of the other (NASL).
This could have led to the demise of another pro soccer league in the US. Instead US Soccer recently announced that both leagues would be provisionally sanctioned as Division 2. The NASL, which had teetered on the brink of demise weeks prior, was given a chance to renew itself among the soccer landscape. An article in the Telegraph by Bob Williams (Article) had Miami FC owner, Riccardo Silva, make some key points for NASL’s new trajectory in the near future. All of the points at least demonstrate an acceptance of NASL changing their approach on stabilizing the league,
Personally, I am happy that they appear to have taken some economic criteria for their teams to follow. This is a positive step for all of US soccer, especially for the players and fans of the NASL. Stability and rebirth is a majority of the piece and perhaps that is where NASL owners’ priorities should lie in the present.
However, similar to the tenure of previous NASL commissioner Bill Peterson, Silva made a bold and somewhat outlandish statement. The Telegraph quotes Silva, “I’m a fan of the NASL collaborating with other leagues too to create more excitement for fans.” He continues his statement, “In this new spirit of collaboration, some NASL owners are advocating the creation of a new competition with the United Soccer League that will determine the ‘real’ division two champions in North America.”
SAY WHAT, A playoff between the leagues? Sounds great at first, but I am not so fast to agree with this. Why is this even a focus right now? Is this an attempt to regain some financial footing or relevancy? Either way, there would be a lot logistics to overcome, bridges to be rebuilt and benefits to justify. How do you pair a 30 team league vs. one with 8 teams. Would you pair up the league champions?
Both leagues are considered provisional equals in the eyes of USSF. A playoff to decide the overall winner could appear a simple conclusion. That was how Major League Baseball unified things in the era of the separate National and American Leagues.
I know this arrangement is not going to happen in 2017 but does it even deserve a chance? Does NASL, fresh off of life support, need to even present this type of solution? In my eyes I think this could be a conversation in a few years if USSF keeps both leagues D2. Both leagues need to focus on proving their right of D2 status. But hey, it is always fun to think about, discuss and keep soccer on our minds during the winter months.
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