NASL Finally Gets Division Two Sanctioning, But With A Price
It has been a strange couple of months for the new version of the North American Soccer League, as it started with getting their provisional sanctioning at MLS Cup in Toronto. Then out of the blue they lost it towards the end of January as Selby Wellman and his family gave up their rights owning the club to the NASL as well as giving financial help to the Atlanta Silverbacks as a part owner and the NSC Minnesota Stars. Many have been critical against the NASL.
So this past weekend on Saturday, February 12th the NASL flew to Las Vegas where US Soccer was having their Annual General Meetings to make an attempt to regain their provisional sanctioning for Division two and, with a very narrow margin of victory, the thirteen member panel with US Soccer President and Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber abstaining their votes, the NASL won in favor of six votes to five. This was a big victory for those who believe and support this new second division league, and for those who support the continued growth of the game in the USA.
Sadly however it came with a price. It’s the one thing that is, in my mind, a very important tournament that US Soccer hasn’t taken seriously. And strangely they made this decision on the five American clubs that won’t get a chance to face any other sides in all divisions of US club soccer. Earning their provisional sanctioning back, the NASL lost the right to participate in the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. There was a press conference on Valentine’s Day to describe the situation when Neil Morris of the Independent who covers the Railhawks in Cary, Durham & Raleigh, asked the question and US Soccer President Sunil Gulati answered the question. “No, because it’s simply too late to include them. The timing doesn’t work. There is no place in the structure; they’re not going to be included.”
No place in the Structure to include them? Really now Mr. Gulati. This so called structure you say is really not that complicated. First round will have Thirty-two sides, sixteen amateur sides (8 in PDL and 8 in USASA) facing supposedly sixteen lower division professional sides (11 in USL Pro & 5 in NASL). Second round will be sixteen round 1 winners and the third round will have eight MLS sides facing eight round 2 winners. How hard is it really to add those five sides into the structure of the 2011 US Open Cup? Honestly it’s not that hard at all.
So as of right now you will have five spots open to those that might be from the NPSL, or this US Club Soccer league, but the most important thing here is that the NASL is getting punished for trying to create a brand new stable second division league in the country. For US Soccer it’s two steps back as once again they keep showing disrespect to the grand championship of all US club soccer, the Open Cup, and I feel it’s disgusting.