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NASL Loses Club and Sanction

ussf NASL Loses Club and SanctionAs USL Pro is moving forward with its realignment and scheduling, the NASL has taken some huge step backwards.  On Wednesday, A.C. St. Louis announced it was ceasing operations, depriving the fledgling NASL of a critical metropolitan area.  But even worse news came right before the weekend, as Inside Minnesota Soccer reported the USSF was unhappy with NASL’s progress so far and voted to remove the league’s provisional second division status.

First, let us mourn the loss of A.C. St. Louis, and use it as a warning to those start-up clubs with dreams of MLS.  Owner Jeff Cooper had the dream of bringing an MLS club to the city and after being denied an expansion franchise in 2008 and 2009, he began A.C. St. Louis in order to eventually bring them up to MLS.  Despite signing Steve Ralston and hiring Claude Anelka as head coach, the team finished only 11th overall in the USSF D2 and never resolved its financial difficulties.  It is especially sad considering the city also lost its women’s pro team last year, and a metropolitan area which boasts six supporters groups will be without soccer.

More troubling is the future of the NASL in general.  The NASL does have the option of appealing the USSF’s preliminary decisions to deny second division status at the USSF annual General Meeting in February, and it would seem like that is the league’s best option.  Failure to be certified, period, would subject the league to FIFA penalties including preventing the players from playing for their country’s national team.  If NASL addressed the USSF concerns somewhat, they could also receive third division status, but with USL Pro already certified and moving forward with their season this would be very unlikely.  Most likely if the league cannot get its act in order it will fold, depriving eight cities of professional soccer.

It looks like the impetus for this action was the financial instability of the league that went beyond the A.C. St. Louis situation.  According to the reports, the Carolina Railhawks have been facing serious financial trouble and have sought assistance from Traffic Sports USA, a sports management company that already controls three NASL clubs.

Regardless of the reason, this is a major setback for American soccer.  I mentioned in my USL Pro post that American soccer needs a stable soccer pyramid to not only provide an avenue for talent development, but to grow the game in areas not covered by MLS.  That stability was not there last season and it looks again to not be here this season.  The USSF needs to determine right now if the NASL can be a stable league worthy of second division status and if not how they can immediately stabilize the soccer pyramid.  Otherwise the development of American soccer will continue to stagnate.

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62 Responses to NASL Loses Club and Sanction

  1. Ultra says:

    I just do not see how de-sanctioning the NASL and killing your D2 is something the USSF should be doing. They worked with MLS on building D1 up for years, it had unsuitable stadiums and multiple teams controlled by just 3 owners.

    They need to work with NASL because in the end, NASL does WANT to meet the tougher new standards. It’s just that some things cannot happen overnight, or even in the several months since the standards were laid down. To expect such is crazy and reckless.

    How does it grow the game in the US and inspire kids to play soccer when you kill off the pro game in 8 markets? Then you’ll have another generation of kids like me, who stopped playing soccer when we were young because we had no local heroes to look up to in the sport because we didn’t have a hometown team.

    And if this happens, they are rewarding USL for ducking the new standards and reorganizing all their pro clubs as D3, or as they’ve been putting it, “the highest level of soccer below MLS”.

  2. JXU says:

    I think the USSF must have plans for D2.

    My understanding is that the expansion fee to join MLS now costs $75mil.

    I suspect that the USSF sees D2 as the future of the expansion of professional soccer in the U.S., and it wants to make sure that whoever is controlling it can do it right.

    However, I’m not sure that I can see the benefit to putting 8 teams out-of-business.

    • Charles says:

      For the Cosmos is costs $75 million.
      I would doubt it would cost $75 million for everyone. Just another reason why NY II will be the next MLS team.

    • ExtraMedium says:

      $75M franchise fee? Oh god. We need new leadership in the USSF. No to franchise fees.

  3. Martin says:

    Ultra,
    I think the first blame here should be directed towards the NASL and their bad management. Having a league with less than 10 teams, is not really a league but more as a friendly cup. I think Traffic rushed themselves into creating a new league when nobody was ready, not the teams, not the cities.
    Second the USSF should focus on trying to unite the leagues in the United States, because right now it looks as if they are competing against each other for a very limited market, instead of working together to help grow the market for soccer.
    If the NASL folds, that for me is a little bit hard to believe(I am a supporter of Soccer in the South Florida region) will be a huge hit for the future of professional soccer in South Florida as its second team in 15 years disappear.

  4. Jason says:

    “If NASL addressed the USSF concerns somewhat, they could also receive third division status, but with USL Pro already certified and moving forward with their season this would be very unlikely.”

    No, there can be more than one D3 league. Why would it be unlikely? Because you say so?

    • Robert Hay says:

      So USSF would be:

      1. MLS
      2.
      3. USL Pro and NASL
      4. Semi-pro leagues

      Doesn’t seem to make sense. They can do it, but why?

      • Lysander says:

        Why? To keep 8 teams around and playing soccer. Who cares if it does not look exactly like other countries this year.

        • Dave C says:

          If there’s no promotion and relegation*, then I don’t see the significance of labelling the league “Div2″, “Div3″ or “Div137″. As long as the D2 status is merely a reflection of arbitrary qualifiers such as stadium facilities, local population and financial backing, then I don’t see the problem with having a D1, two D3′s, but no D2.

          *ps I’m not saying there SHOULD be pro/rel. PLEASE, no-one use this as a starting point for the usual pro/rel debate.

          • ExtraMedium says:

            That debate should continue until the powers that be get a clue. Learn history. When The Football League was created it was modeled after baseball’s National League so it was a closed league. Both leagues had competitive balance problems and folding clubs. The NL decided to co-opt competition via the minor league system while the FA chose pro/reg. The FA got a system with THOUSANDS of independent clubs. MLB has 30 clubs…I was watching French Cup games on espn3 yesterday and decided to read about the competition. 7449 clubs participated.

  5. Ultra says:

    Martin,

    I don’t know if you can call the NASL management “bad” just yet. They have not had the chance to run their league yet. I’d reserve judgement until they get at least one season under their belt on their own terms. Is it the league or Traffic’s fault that Wellman bailed in Carolina? Or that Cooper’s operation in St. Louis was a sham from the get go? Traffic has stepped in and saved 2 teams(Carolina, Minnesota) and brought another back to life(Atlanta), which obviously is not what they wanted to have to do but to me that shows commitment. Yes they’ve got some issues, but I don’t see why the USSF would not give them a chance to operate. It took the TOA/NASL breakaway for USSF to pay attention to D2, and now they want to crush the only organization who wants to attempt to do things better than it used to be before it even gets started.

    Isn’t having a D2 league that has some issues, but is working to be up to the standards better than having no D2 league at all? I don’t think the USSF understands this. If NASL folds, surely most of the teams will fold. Maybe a few go back to USL but then we’re right back where we were 2 years ago, maybe even worse. We’ll be left with USL who went D3 to dodge the new standards, operating a league that stretches much further geographically than it used to, but now with teams mostly on lower budgets who are in D3 to save on travel expenses etc. So basically we’ll have USL-1 again, but with worse travel and a bunch of teams less equipped/willing to handle it. LA to Antigua, that’s surely a flight that these teams signed up for when they were sold a “regional” league, huh?

    • Bart says:

      Ultra,

      I would say you can safely say that NASL had a bad management style. As Davidson has recently said in his latest press release, he has been working for 4 years to create this D2 league.

      Yes, it is NASL’s fault for Carolina, and also St. Louis and Minnesota. Even Baltimore largely because NASL admitted them into their organization, not because they played last year. NASL had an obligation to fully research and vet these teams and failed to do so, yet admitted them as members part of the team owners of NASL.

      This is not how you start a league, with a bunch of flakes that have fallen off the turnip truck before the league plays the first league game. It shows poor judgment on Davidson’s and NASL’s part, which means it shows poor judgment on Traffic’s part.

      USL kept their D3 league status (this is not moving to D3) as they have had for years. Since they lost their accreditation for D2, along with NASL’s denial for sanctioning in 2009. They chose to stick with what they already had. Why should USL go through the agony of being rejected twice? Did they have some moral obligation to do so, and if that is the case, where is it in their business plan that they have to do things that lose them money and face?

      TOA/NASL created this problem with D2, which forced USSF to deal with it, and now USSF is being blasted for NASL? Give me a break.

  6. GI Joe says:

    They were more interested in creating wars against USL, than getting an healthy and profitable league…

  7. WSW says:

    Who was creating wars? Wasn’t USL stating they are lower division behind MLS? Didn’t USL want the 16th team to be in Ft. lauderdale where NASL already had a team? San antonio if it was a market USL has been looking at for years why did we only hear about it now, since NASL has a franchise. Why has a radio show in Rochester been slamming NASL ever since they wanted to be 2nd division. Now tell me who started the war.

    • Kejsare says:

      Blame Umbro, aka Nike, if you want for how they sold the league. But the “rebelling” teams certainly were looking for an out and moved first.

      • Dan says:

        I can tell you already that hartman is a step ahead of SSE stadium wise. Hartman will have a grass field and a 5400 stadium planned out that can expand 18000 seats vs the spurs who plan to play in a stadium that is to big, share it with High School Football, and that is AstroTurf.

        I agree that their is alot of work the NASL needs to do but at the same time, It’s not like the USL really cares about growing soccer as long as they can get their silly yearly Franchise fee.

        Rawlins and Clark are traitors. Rawlins will be hated by Austin/San Antonio Soccer fans alike for what he did to Austin(not so much for moving to Orlando but how he handled it). Clark for being a Whitney Houston to the USL (aka Bobby Brown). Cooper was a fraud and Wellman was a flake. Traffic has to be given credit for doing ever thing they can to help this league get off the ground. And Baltimore was screwed either way. The USL was pushing Baltimore up to replace Cleveland and Baltimore decided they rather take a chance in NASL then get Bullied by USL. Oh and they are not dead yet.

  8. CoconutMonkey says:

    I dunno, call me naive, but somehow I doubt that minor league baseball fans worry about whether their team is single-a, double-a, or triple-a.

    Why is it so important that the NASL has D2 status? Is it against USSF rules to have two division 3 leagues?

    • Jpeg says:

      here we run under a system of franchises with leagues competing against each other and one single league proclaimed “professinal” while the others battle it out to see who gets to be the closest to mls.

      even though we dont have pro/rel, having a organized pyramid is essential to preventing things like this. that way no one league can compete against the other because they are in there determined division status.

      • bradjmoore48 says:

        Even if there is an organized pyramid with division status, without pro/rel, it doesn’t matter, D2 and D3 and below are still “minor league” and thus the leagues still compete with each other. As someone said earlier, what’s the difference between D2 and D3? None, you’re still not in MLS!

        There’s a lot of blame to go around for this sad debacle. But the large systemic problem comes from USSF who don’t intend on setting up a proper pro/rel pyramid which would give incentives to owners to invest in D2 and D3 and, after a time where reasonable financial and stadium criteria are met by clubs, can open up the system to give those markets a shot at the big show. I know USSF set up D-2 criteria, but how many $20M worth owners are going to start a soccer team where they have to build their own stadium, if they can get approval, hope fans show up, and then pray for a chance from Don Garber, who then grants his acceptance upon receiving a $40M plus entry fee? Don’t think you’ll find many.

        • dcudiplomat96 says:

          @ brad exactly who said the USSF have to establish a soccer pyramid a certain way?? Who said there has to be be promotion/relegation….. neither the USsf or MLS are obligated to set up a second or even third division, especially with P/R in mind. MLS is barely establishing a footing in American sports. I think for the time being MLS should be prioritized. Est a healthy fanbase in potential areas and have MLS grow first. P/R isn’t really neccesary at this time plus even if it being considered you have to intergrate it with the established system MLS has which is conferences and the playoffs.

          • Charles says:

            bradjmoore48,

            The way I read your comment, you are basically saying that MLS should be risking what success it has…and lets face it, it is not a huge success and could fold very quickly if things go wrong…to make sure that the lower divisions are better served.
            That is crazy.

            I know you think that will work. By their actions, I know MLS ownership think like I do.

  9. Jpeg says:

    its sad that NASL lost its status and AC St.Louis is gone. but i blame USSF. yea Nike selling USL to a ownership group the clubs were not happy about and NASL was created out of the blue to stick it to USL but what was the use of shutting down a league that was working its way up? our pyramid is in a mess just when i thought things were going to shape up by USL accepting D3 and NASL being then a shoe in for D2 we now have a hole in our pyramid. is USSF going to launch another temporary d2 league for the new season? USSF has to really examine its pyramid structure to have our leagues in place and not have all this confusion. we need order so that leagues dont try to one up another and put another league with working clubs out of business. USSF should really examine how other countries with well organized structures work (and no im not saying pro/rel). if other countries have their leagues working right and their sturcture in line then they are doing something that we should be modeling instead of us trying to fix everything with glue and ducktape

  10. WSW says:

    USSF knows quite well what they are doing, they set high standards 6 months in advance because they knew NASL can’t pull it off. USSF doesn’t want fans screaming for pro/rel after we have a stable D2, they like it the way it is and will be. The kings MLS and USL that’s been invisible for the past 15 years.

  11. dcudiplomat96 says:

    To be honest I don’t think having a second Division is important right now. I mean most D2 teams barely draw crowds. The onlysolution I think is making MLS establish a second division for existing teams that have MLS potential but not ready yet.

    • Charles says:

      Agreed, but to be clear, I am sure you are in the same boat as me.

      I really feel for the fans of those teams. I went to every Sounder’s game the last season of NASL (1)…it hurts….bad.

    • bradjmoore48 says:

      “I mean most D2 teams barely draw crowds.”
      “The onlysolution I think is making MLS establish a second division for existing teams that have MLS potential but not ready yet.”

      Contradictive statements, anyone? If D2/3 teams aren’t drawing crowds, as you say, MLS sees no potential in those markets, so why would they establish a 2nd division?

      MLS has already taken the few teams with the most potential from lower divisions in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and soon Montreal. None of the teams in NASL (not counting Montreal) or USL as they stand are on any track to become MLS teams. I do think MLS and the USSF need to be involved in helping the 2nd division if they ever want it to survive. I disagree that MLS needs to be ‘protected’ – if so, only a small amount: More MLS teams are getting stadiums and generating revenue, they are becoming profitable. But there is that eternal issue of how much expansion is good without diluting talent, which is what the NBA and MLB are having problems with. Thus, 2nd division becomes important to establish other markets and place give players at that ability level, up-and-comers on the way to MLS or the good players but not quite good enough for top flight. Problem is no one will buy into a 2nd division team unless they can get crowds and stadiums, which takes money, which takes investment, which means the USSF needs to create incentives to get owners to invest. To me, the best incentive for anyone to invest in 2nd division soccer is to provide the carrot of pro/rel for owners to create good teams/businesses to flourish in 2nd division and eventually get a shot at the top.

      • dcudiplomat96 says:

        How is the statement contradicting? If MLS wants to set up a second division it would had already. They should but I also understand the reason why it should be either. But ultimately any second division should complement MLS. In the past and even now it hasn’t. MLS did not take teams from the second division. They went on their own MLS laid down the rules to Join, it was up to the team if they wanted to comply to them. Right now MLS I doing the right thing growing as alarger leagues focus on proper regional alignment. The league should do better with casacdia in place and Montreal comming to compliment canadian soccer. If Only MLS doesn’t screw up marketing and get abetter tv deal that on basic cable.

  12. SKMDC says:

    There needs to be some direct connection between the MLS and whatever league becomes D2. I know promotion/relegation is a pipe dream (the soccer fans equivalent of an NCAA football playoff) something we all know would make the game better and more exciting, but the money just doesn’t work out and therefore it’s a fantasy. Failing pro/reg, then the MLS needs to use the D2 and D3 leagues like MLB uses it’s farm system. A direct connection between a D3-D2-MLS team in a player development way, so when I go to a Charleston Battery game and see a young exciting player, I can then pull for the “mother” team he might one day play for in the MLS. To me that’s the perfect connection without the pro/reg requirement, and the money involved between the MLS and the D2/D3 teams could be nothing more than nominal royalties… Just create a CONNECTION in the pyramid even if it’s a non-monetary philosophical only connection.

    • AdamEdg says:

      I agree. Forget the reserve team nonsense and make an affiliated minor league/farm team system. It has worked out pretty well for baseball and hockey and is really starting to take hold in basketball. There are things that an be done with farm teams to alleviate some owner costs that certainly cannot be done with independent teams. Anybody that understands how our minor league systems work in terms of player development and fan bases would be able to see the potential benefit of an Omaha-based farm club for Sporting KC (for example).
      The Des Moines area boasts at least as many Cubs fans as Chicago, not because Chicago is the closest city to us (Twins, Royals, & Cards all closer), but because we have been the Cubs’ AAA team for over 30 years. Omaha boasts a huge KC Royals fanbase for the same reason. A lot of emerging Bulls fans because the Energy have been their farm team since day 1 of the NBADL franchise.

    • Heimdall says:

      I would be okay with my local lower level team being an affiliate If their ownership meant the team’s existence. For example if the Earthquakes want to resurrect the California Victory. But if I were a fan of an established soccer team like the Battery and all the sudden they had an overlord who could jerk with the roster and make moves that don’t have the Battery’s best interest in mind, I would hate that. I’d root for former players on the team but I’d never be a fan of that MLS team.

  13. bradjmoore48 says:

    Charles – did I say MLS needs to involved in Division 2 soccer in terms of its operation and structure? I didn’t, because it does not need to be. It’s the USSF’s responsibility to align the soccer pyramid. I think that MLS would benefit from having an open league which, set up under the right conditions, would give them more markets without over-expanding and diluting talent, and making the league less profitable, which is the way things will go if they continue to just add teams well past 20. It’s simple economics – as more teams enter into MLS, it becomes imperative that the league becomes more profitable, otherwise the more teams you add, the less money teams stand to make. The pie has to continue to get bigger for more teams to come in. When we hit 20 teams, the MLS pie will not grow fast enough to accomodate more teams unless they improve their product and can compete with overseas leagues. People go to watch top-level if its in their city, but if MLS isn’t in their city, on TV, European soccer looks much better to watch than MLS. The goal of MLS and the USSF should then be to get in as many markets as they can, but the paradox is that the pie then becomes smaller and they have to start scrapping for players who aren’t as good to play in the top-flight. SOOO the sensible thing would be for USSF to start providing incentives to get owners to invest in lower-division soccer, and I think the single best carrot to do this is pro/rel. You allow the best players to play in the best league, the not-as good players and the young up and coming players to still get to play in smaller markets, more fans would come out as they have a team of their own to support, and everyone can at least be optimistic when their team gets a shot at the top-flight.

    I’m much more optimistic about how MLS is operating, I don’t think it needs to be protected at all costs, though there are things it can do better. I really don’t think MLS will fold anytime soon. If the implementation is done right, over a period of time, and with solid reasonable criteria, to me this is the next logical step for soccer in this country.

    And so I don’t sound like a hypocrite: Americans, support your local soccer team, especially if your team is in the lower-divisions.

    • bradjmoore48 says:

      I should clarify “MLS will not fold anytime soon” provided they don’t make any decisions to cause their own demise, like over-expansion into the single-entity structure and diluting talent and money, thus making the quality poorer, or, very unlikely but, MLS owners turn out to not be in great financial terms and their teams, thus the league, suffers for it. If the league fails, at this point, the likelihood will be the league shooting itself in the foot and not any external factors. I have no reason right now to think that is happening, but that can always change.

      • Charles says:

        You should clarify you statement,

        BUT by saying MLS will not fold anytime soon unless they risk teams like NY, LA ( both of who would have in the last few years ) or even more disasterous, the Sounders being demoted, while they promote a minor league team because they won a lower inferior league.

        Which is exactly what you are saying the SOLUTION is.

        That is why I responded, asking so MLS should risk dying to get a lower league in place ? The answer is obviously no. It is ludicris and will ever happen.

        • bradjmoore48 says:

          Why do you keep thinking these D2 teams would always be “minor” before pro/rel is instituted, or that with good ownership, D2 would make up ground and then become just as viable as MLS? I’ve said pro/rel should be not be immediately instituted, I’ve kept saying it should be a carrot, a long-term objective. But with that carrot would come investment, owners would be willing to take a chance on a team and look to build a quality side, attract fans and build stadiums to enjoy revenue. Then, when enough teams demonstrate that viability, they can have a shot at the top, providing they meet certain criteria (i.e. set a 12-15K minimum capacity stadium rule, among other things). It’s the USSF’s job to stand up and say first, MLS expansion will be stopped at 20 teams, and 2nd we will be looking to expand for a viable D2, and in doing so, in, say, 10 years time, if we get enough good owners and teams, we’ll open up MLS and D2 for pro/rel. I see that as very reasonable. If Seattle gets demoted, a) do you really think they would lose ALL of their fans. If they still get 15-20K a match in D2, they’ll be fine, b) they obviously need to regroup and build up a good side to get back to the top. Competition, my friend! Competition! Personally, if I was running USSF, I’d also throw a bone to MLS teams that happen to get demoted by refunding their MLS entrance fee, so Seattle would get $30M dollars back, as a way of saying thank you for your contribution to keep D1 soccer in America alive, and we don’t want you to fail as a team, so spend wisely in D2.

    • Lysander says:

      I do not think there is too small of a pool of MLS level talent out there right now. And if there is, then we could just expand the intl roster spots and the problem is solved.

      • Heimdall says:

        Agreed. Even with expansion the talent level has increased because of the expansion of international slots to nine, plus foreigners can get green cards which allows a team to get more internationals.

  14. Sancho says:

    As a foreigner that actually leaves abroad, it seems to me that the best scenario for USSF and US Soccer as a whole for that matter is to build a top-flight league modeling the NFL (could be MLB, but since the commisioner has football roots, so be it!), and go deep into the American social strata using Minor League baseball as its reference (even using Minor Leagues as part of its youth academy and farm system).

    The US Open Cup (that I would love to see in baseball, by the way) should go full FA Cup or Coupe de France, and it would put all the the teams and all leagues (form MLS to USCS) together.

    Having said that, the failure of NASL to be a D2 league is nothing to be ashamed or worried about; unless, for the advocates of a pro/rel system -that I don’t believe would fit in the United States to begin with. The soccer-pyramid is still being worked on in your country, and it took decades for baseball (a much more popular sport) to make it work.

    Best.

    • Brio says:

      Sancho — I have heard this same idea posted on the D.C. United Screaming Eagles list. This may be an opportunity for the MLS to get their reserve players meaningful games. This helps to sell the parent brand in cities outside of the MLS clubs home areas and maybe makes the televised MLS games more interesting to those cities. Get a chance to see your local stars make it with the big team. I bet there would then be more likelihood of finding owners with the wherewithal to field a D2 team.

  15. Robert says:

    I’m sad to hear another failure in the US landscape. MLS is not immune and the successful franchises in MLS are all tied to the same rope and if a few go down the league goes down as we just witnessed in NASL 2.0. Its no surprise that teams are failing in the US Soccer Caste system.

    MLS had better get their act together and set up a viable division 2. With ratings dropping faster than Garber’s jaw when US lost 2022 owners/investors will soon pull the plug on this MLS experiment.

    • Charles says:

      So let me get this straight, you finally agree with me.

      Now you want MLS to form the 2nd division, when the system you worship has failed on many, many occassions.

      The single entity, hated MLS needs to set up the Div II ?
      Let me guess you want it set up differently than MLS, even though it is set up by the successful MLS ?

      BTW, did you see the Sounders offered Diego Forlan a contract ?

      • Robert says:

        Charles, I am totally against Single-Entity. My point that I was making is that MLS is not immune from failures in the second division. Weaker franchises in MLS are dragging MLS down with weak attendance numbers and falling TV viewership ratings. Sounders are a great franchise but they operate in a system that is stiffing its growth.

        I live in San Diego and is the #1 market for soccer (World Cup10 ratings) but MLS is not granting San Diego a franchise anytime soon. So, I venture down to Tijuana to support Club Tijuana who just won the last tournament and could be in Primera Mexicana next year! Support is Rabid! I will never support a franchise from Los Angeles! NEVER!

        MLS and lower divisions will never be viable unless there is an open league structure OR MLS subsidizes USL/NASL. There are only 18 markets with league 1 professional soccer and you, along with other closed/system entity fan boys, are completely fine with neglecting soccer fans from the game for the sake of league profitability. You are not a supporter for the growth the the US Game.

        • Dave says:

          The NASL tanking all but destroys any argument you pro/reg freaks had. It proves an open league structure can’t work in America. This isn’t England. The good soccer markets are now in MLS and D2 is now only left with teams like Miami who draw 1,200 a game. The NASL couldn’t even find investors which forced Traffic to prop up half the league.

          MLS is already viable! It’s actually doing well and immune from the nonsense that is occurring below it. And much of that is due to it having a structure that crazies like you and that soccerreform moron want to destroy. These weaker franchises you site don’t exist. Only Chivas, DCU, and the Revs stick out as franchises behind the times. Everyone else is doing well. Even Dallas’s season tickets are way up. You Sounder fans are worse than Yankee fans in baseball. Except they at least have a real history. You haven’t accomplished squat.

          It’s not MLS’s job to make D2 work. Really, with MLS expanding rosters, the MLS reserve squads, and academies now in full swing, there is zero reason for them to bail out the failed D2.

          • ExtraMedium says:

            “The NASL tanking all but destroys any argument you pro/reg freaks had. It proves an open league structure can’t work in America.”

            Dave doesn’t get it…Sigh…The reason (pay attention, I’ll go slow) D2 keeps failing is beacuse the games are even more meaningless than MLS games. Fans want to see games that matter. Pro/reg would make NASL/USL games matter, so they’ll get more fans. MLS games would also matter more because of the relegation threat.
            I agree with you when you say it’s not MLS’ responsibility to make D2 work. That’s the USSF’s responsibility, and to a lesser extent FIFA’s fault. FIFA told the USSF to set-up a D1, they never told them to set-up a functioning pyramid.

          • Robert says:

            So you would rather have Chivas USA, DC United and Revs bring down the rest of the league rather than relegate them out of Division 1 and replace them with a successful clubs that earned promotion. I hope you enjoy watching Revs matches with grid iron lines with 8k people in the stands.

            If you think MLS is the clear from failure you are in denial. TV is the bread and butter from all leagues and clubs (See: Real Madrid). if they continue with those lack luster numbers for regular season and MLS CUP FINALS, ESPN and FSC will not renew in buying the rights. A recent EPL (chelsea/Arsenal) match that took place on Monday afternoon USA time beat out MLS CUP!

  16. Sancho says:

    NBA and NFL live perfectly happy without D2 leagues…

  17. Jeff Thompson says:

    Sancho,
    Both NBA and NFL have a tax supported minor league: NCAA. Note the MLS drafted a 17 year old which is rare in NBA and can’t happen in NFL.
    And now the NBA does have a minor league/Developmental league. Soccer could use a system like the NHL with the AHL as Div 2 and ECHL as Div. 3 with players moving up and down in the system. The collective bargine with the MLS doesn’t set wages for lower divisions like the hockey agreement does. My dream? The MLS teams put 4 or so players into a developmental pool and those 70 players were split up to the NASL (or any div. 2 league). You would have 8 or 9 players per team that would play 28 games and could be called up ala baseball or hockey.

    • Sancho says:

      Jeff,

      As I have stated before: “As a foreigner that actually lives abroad, it seems to me that the best scenario for USSF -and US Soccer as a whole for that matter- is to build a top-flight league modeling the NFL (could be MLB, but since the commisioner has football roots, so be it!), and go deep into the American social strata using Minor League baseball as its reference (even using Minor Leagues as part of its youth academy and farm system).” I don’t follow ice hockey, but, if I understood you, it’s the same idea.

      I totally agree.

      I know we are just soccer fans, not owners or comissioners, but my advice would be: DO NOT TREAT SOCCER AS SOMETHING FOREIGNER. It’s not. Soccer could not have become the world’s game without creating different roots that allowed it to flourish in completely different environments. In my view, MLS is succeding because is actually trying to make soccer an American game, without such silly ideas as regressive game-clock, bigger goals, smaller balls, 10-man teams, etc. People usually say soccer is a low-scoring game, and Americans don’t like that. True, but I believe: (a) if it was played in a 4-hour span, as baseball, it would probably have those 7-6, 5-3, 8-4 scores; and (b) if each goal was worth 7 points, it would have a lot of 14-7, 21-7, 14-0, 21-0 games (in half of the time of a football game!).

      By the way, being the only score in a low scoring game is what make a GOAL so special…

      To finish my point, soccer will probably never be basketball, football or baseball, but to fight for fourth place against the NHL, this is quite possible in a couple of decades, maybe less.

    • Derek says:

      I hate everyone who thinks everything America does is right. The European soccer leagues were around before we knew what professional sports were. Just copy them, and stop trying to do it a different way just because you can. And spare me the blah blah blah this is America garbage….

      • Sancho says:

        Derek, you missed the point. I’m a 30-year-old Brazilian. I’ve been in the US four times in my whole life, and probably this doesn’t combine for 90 days. I’m not an “Americanophile” either. I’m a soccer fan, and I love how soccer can and is different everywhere.

        But, since you brought the subject, let me undestand it. When you say the US should copy Europe, do you mean that every state, plus DC, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands must organize their own leagues and have all the champions to play a US Champions Cup in the next season?!

      • Dave says:

        I hate every idiot that doesn’t realize that this is America, and what works in Europe, won’t work here. Soccer #1 in Europe. It’s just a niche sport here. That’s why minor league soccer always fails. No market for it. Unlike in Europe.

        Now do you get it?

        • Sancho says:

          No. Not at all. Less now than before, actually…

          I don’t get it because what I was saying FROM THE BEGINNING is that soccer in the US must find its own way to flourish. Not copying from nowhere, but adapting to the conditions existent in America. That MLS is doing a good job on it; that there is no surprise to see minor leagues struggling to survive; and that this is not a huge setback either.

          The whole comment made by Jeff above, in this very same conversation, was about how another niche sport in the US works its pyramide -ice hockey- and how soccer could learn from it. There is nothing LESS European than that.

          So no, I don’t get your point. Do you agree with us, or don’t?

        • Sancho says:

          It’s midnight. I’m discussing soccer AND working at the same time.

          Sorry if i took Derek and Dave to be the sam eperson…

  18. ExtraMedium says:

    Hey how’s that closed-door franchise model without pro/reg working out for US soccer?

  19. Earl Reed says:

    I agree with ExtraMedium…I think promotion/relegation is vital to the success of the lower leagues. The more that a team in, say, Atlanta sees itself having a shot to promote to MLS, the more that they can financially invest towards that end. Yes, that may hurt them if they don’t get promoted, but that kind of reward/punishment scheme works. And it has to be coupled with heavy promotions by coaches and players in the community…youth leagues/clinics, elementary/middle schools, etc. The best way to get the soccer system stocked with talent is to get them interested when they are young. How many kids in this country…talented, athletic kids…get roped by other sports into thinking they have a shot, only to be dashed because they aren’t quite as good as the kids in the city whose guidance counselor just so happens to know they AD at the school he graduated from?

    And I know, probably every MLS owner shudders at the thought of relegation…but why not instead start with a promo/releg at D2 and D3 (when NASL gets resanctioned)? Have 2013 be the last of the granted franchises, so you end up with 20 teams. Then, say 2015, decide that you’ll have 2-4 years (depending upon what MLS feels would be the optimal size for the league) of straight promotion of one team from D2 to D1.

    So let’s say 2018 season ends with the addition of the 24th team. That leaves you with two even 12s, or a nice 24 team single table. Then 2019 begins the process of relegation. By that time, the initiative taken to enable up-and-coming team operations to build and succeed to MLS will have created a much more vibrant D2 and D3 system. So the squads who come up will be the ones who have built support through their communities, in such a way that allows them to invest in better players. And it’s 8 years later, what you hope is that these 5-10 year-olds you invested time and effort into promoting yourself to are now 13-18, and are now supplying your chain with talent…real talent.

  20. Andy says:

    AC St Louis folded because there is no pro/rel and no chance of getting to MLS. If there were pro/rel AC St Louis would have the opportunity to increase their clubs value.

    Here is just another instance how the closed league model/single entity is absolutely ruining the organic growth of soccer in this country.

    traditional soccer fans should boycott MLS until there is some kind of movement towards building up a D2 and pro/rel

    • Brio says:

      Andy, this does not make any sense. An MLS boycott will just be bad for the development of the game in this country. The owners of the MLS clubs are spending lots of their money to establish themselves. It seems that it would be unfair for these owners to let some upstart team that buys enough talent to win in D2 or D3 and replace a team which has invested in building a league. Promotion and relegation will not bring lots of fans into the D2 cities. This is not a concept which is common in US sports and they will not understand it. I think that the player promotion model of MLB or NHL makes more sense and will attract fans to see the stars of tomorrow.

      • Andy says:

        you’re wrong

        Look at Japan. Their sports culture was not used to pro/rel. Their domestic soccer league didn’t have pro/rel. They added pro/rel to their domestic soccer leagues and the sport has flourished and the J-league is a rising soccer league.

        so this idea that Americans wouldn’t understand pro/rel is just nonsense.

        I’m not saying go pro/rel tomorrow or even 5 years from now. What I am saying is that pro/rel should be in the future plans of our domestic soccer leagues and it should be announced that it is coming so clubs that are closed out of MLS can start to position themselves to join a real pro/rel soccer pyramid

        • Pro/Rel non starter says:

          Culture has nothing to do with it. Two of the three major revenue streams would be decimated by promotion/relegation for the clubs in the second division.

          The Championship in England retains the highest level of average attendance (v. the top flight) with 52% of the Premier League’s attendance. In countries like Germany (36%), Spain (29%) and Italy (24%) the numbers are worse. Even if the US were to lead the Globe in retention and retain 60% of attendance, you’re still talking about a 40% reduction in match day revenues.

          We don’t have to guess about television. Bottom line is there is not a single national network in the United States willing to pay for second divison soccer, and we have 20 years of evidence to verify that fact. The only national platform was secured by paying for the airtime.

          This is going to be complicated further as FSC and Gol get dropped by distributors during the next round of distribution contracts for the networks. I’ve met with each of the top 7 distributors in the last 8 months and heard those names mentioned (one said “the soccer networks”) when talking about finding bandwidth by dropping current services. FSC is averaging a pathetic 24,000 households and a 0.02 rating, while Gol remains unmeasured.

    • Brio says:

      Now, just because it is not done here is a reason not to do it. I think that anything which changes the play of game itself from the world norm is generally a mistake. MLS has addressed those. But when it comes to the conduct of the soccer business (competitions and leagues) there is more flexibility. MLS is a work in progress and the history of soccer in this country has more fits and fights than most countries. One of the problems is the scale of this country. The NFL is what it is because they share their revenue and do not have relegation and promotion to protect the teams which invested in the operation. Prom/Rel is not going to happen.

  21. Robin says:

    I just want to say, wow you all are idiots.

    PRO/REL will never work! For now, but later it will.

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