Shame on US Soccer for making an announcement right before a major holiday about not sanctioning the USL and NASL. By releasing the news on December 30th, the organization must be hoping the story would be buried by most news organizations.
While the soccer community will be up in arms over the news in the next few days to weeks, one story that I believe will be overlooked is the disservice that both US Soccer and Major League Soccer are doing to the southeastern United States.
By not sanctioning the USL or NASL, and by MLS having no teams in the southeastern United States, you can see from the above map the massive portion of the country (identified in red) that has no local professional soccer team.
That land mass is larger than most countries in the world. I’ve made this point before on MLS Talk, but it needs repeating. The nearest Major League Soccer team from my home in South Florida is DC United, which is exactly one thousand miles away. That’s the same distance from London, England to Naples, Italy — where there are hundreds of teams in between those two cities.
In fact, the closest team to me is Atlante, based in Cancun, Mexico, which is 574 miles away.
It’s inexcusable that there are no Major League Soccer teams in the southeastern United States. And by US Soccer making the announcement today that they’re not going to sanction either second division, it puts both of those leagues in jeopardy and I don’t see a solution being brokered anytime soon since both parties are in complete opposition to each other.
I’m very upset about the whole situation. And yes, MLS had a team in Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale, but both teams were contracted. But the league needs to seriously think about what it can do to market a new team in the area since there is such a pent-up demand for soccer in this part of the country. That was a void that USL filled by having teams in the Southeastern United States (as well as other parts of the country where there were no MLS teams).
It’s time for US Soccer to resolve the USL/NASL situation and it’s time for MLS to get serious about making it a truly American (and Canadian) league.