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In The Immortal Words Of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!”

With USSF’s simultaneous announcement of the NASL’s sanctioning as the D2 pyramid level, as well as their exclusion from the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in 2011 (covered by our own Daniel Feuerstein), red flags started being raised. USSF President Sunil Gulati’s assertion that it was “too late” for the NASL’s 5 American teams to be included in the format seemed questionable at best, given that in 2010 the format was published on May 5th.

Today, the USSF miraculously finalized and published the full format of the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, nearly 3 months ahead of their 2010 pace. I think the USSF should be commended for their diligence in getting the structure and dates set in such a timely, almost unbelievably quick fashion compared to previous years.

It’s tough to tell what changed, if there was any impetus to push this through so early. Maybe they wanted to give loyal supporters plenty of opportunity to purchase tickets. Maybe they wanted to help venues plan ahead for the dates. Maybe the US Open Cup Fairy appeared out of thin air, sprinkled her pixie dust, and magically aligned the dates and said, “Voila! Here’s your schedule!”

I would remark that the timing is very fortunate. Or unfortunate, depending on your point of view. I mean, if it weren’t for the expeditious planning for this tournament by nearly three months, they might have still been able to find a way to incorporate those filthy D2 level teams. But as it was, obviously this proves that Mr. Gulati was speaking the truth. I mean, it’s been all of three days since his announcement, and there it is! If only he had thought to mention that in three days there would be a big announcement about the USSF’s marquee tournament, it would have settled our hearts and minds about the veracity of his statement. But as it happened, it ended up looking as if the outrage needed to be quelled, so a long distance call to US Open Cup Fairyland was necessary, and, “Voila!”

All I can say is, Major League Soccer should consider hiring the scheduler for their own purposes. Heck, a hire like that could get their schedule out before Christmas. Lord knows that I’d love Philadelphia Union tickets next Christmas. Guess it’s time to get my letter to Santa started…

Good day!

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    February 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Excellent. We lead the world in soccer club failure rate. As of 1986, it stood at >99%. Lower division clubs fail at 75% rate today – but gollllleeee geeeee, that can’t have anything to do with the way we do it.

    US Soccer hasn’t felt it’s oats since the 1920’s, so a total lack of independent leadership shouldn’t shock anyone. Perhaps it’s shocking that it’s dragged on this long. It’s not remarkable that any lower division soccer league struggles in the US under their lack of leadership, cult of favoritism, and rigid adherence to the domestic US pro sports model. It’s amazing, heartwarming, and perhaps a little sadistic that lower division owners keep trying.

    • Boycott Garber's Ponzi scheme

      February 19, 2011 at 3:23 am

      I think you mean masochistic instead of sadistic.


        February 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm

        Excellent point, and killer name.

        Perhaps masochistic owners practice the sadism of disposable clubs in a US soccer pyramid that has become a crypt – outside of the Madoffian liquidity of a stupifyingly unpopular and entitled MLS.

    • Tim

      February 19, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      Did you know 52% of statistics are completely made up?


        February 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm

        We lead the world in club soccer failure rate, and keep doing things the same way. 12 step plan time.

  2. Mike

    February 18, 2011 at 8:16 am

    NASL is a joke of a League.

  3. EPL is better

    February 18, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Charles, the difference between D1 and D2 is when you enter the USOC D1 teams enter at the Octofinals. That’s why it’s important. The USOC is the bread and butter of D2 on down. But now that the USOC is now a sham, just like all other football in this country, I will join jspech and not watch. There are nothing but clowns running football here. Retarded clowns.

    Thank God there is plenty of English football on Fox. There’s more than enough for us there. The US fed has failed us. F them.

    • Robert

      February 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      Have to agree. Soccer in this country is offically over.

      • Charles

        February 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm

        Thanks for your posts too…bye.

    • Tim

      February 18, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      Please Explain to me how they failed?
      LAST YEAR they set down guidelines for a club to be a second division club. This was to increase stability. I’d say that’s doing a good job in attempting to secure a suitable second division. NASL FAILED. It’s that simple. They had an entire year since USSF-2 was announced to get their ducks in order, but waffled and waffled some more, until the deadline came and went. USSF has given NASL a second chance to get their stuff together by next year, but because of their waffling have been disqualified from the Open Cup. No USOC means no extra travel expenses and they can work on organizing the league.

      So go eurosnob it up, and enjoy getting up at absurd hours to watch some league where the clubs are hemorrhaging debt.

      • Roger

        February 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm

        So NASL failed because they had 1 year and waffled?!
        but after 16 years MLS franchises get knocked down by clubs from Puero Rico and trinidad and Tobagos,. Is that success?

        • Tim

          February 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm

          Address the statement I made and don’t change the subject. I discussed how NASL waffled in following the rules set down by USSF. Not the ability of the clubs to do well on the international stage. Additionally and apparently upsets aren’t allowed to happen in sports.

  4. Jarrett Campbell

    February 18, 2011 at 1:01 am

    While the timing was a bit “coincidental”, keep in mind they didn’t so much announce a schedule as a format. Many of the qualifying teams won’t be known for months.

  5. WSW

    February 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Basically Gulati and Garber wanted more MLS teams so they have a better chance of winning USOC, that’s why 5 NASL teams were omitted.

    • Tim

      February 18, 2011 at 8:08 pm

      Yes because so many NASL (d2) teams have won the USOC since MLS’s inception

  6. jspech

    February 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    There is nothing open about this years Cup. I will not support it by watching or attending a game this year.

  7. Estefan

    February 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    The NASL is garbage and a disgrace to the name! They and their clueless, selfl-centered, pie-in-the-sky dreamers for owners, attempted to topple all semi-pro (call it what it is) soccer outside of MLS.

    I don’t like Gulati either, but let’s not make saints out of the morons over at NASL! Geoff Cooper at A.C. St. Louis? The Carolina Railhawks ownership? J. Saputo and crew up in Mon’real (who could have given a rip about what happened in NASL, USL, or the WWF for that matter – they were going to the MLS and darn well knew it!)? Which one of these should be sainted? How about “Traffic Sports?” a Brazilian organization that is trying to single-handedly take over D2 soccer in N. America?

    I’ll repeat, NASL (in it’s current state) is garbage! Can’t wait to be rid of these bozos!

  8. Michael

    February 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    My guess is that the 100 or so folks who might be outraged over this will find themselves here, as they usually do, gripe repeatedly to each other, then find something new to be outraged over. That’s the way it seems to work.

    NASL shouldn’t have zero consequences to their dawdling. Being sanctioned is plenty of reward for getting their act in gear at the last possible moment. Sorry if your myopia doesn’t allow you to see that.

  9. Robert

    February 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    NASL will not exist next year. NASL is only providing a platform for Montreal and once it enters faux promotion NASL will lose its D-2 status and go bankrupt. I hope NASL appeals to FIFA and establishes a true D-1 league with independent clubs and promotion and relegation.

    • Heimdall

      February 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      If it is a struggle for groups of teams (USL and NASL) alike to attain D2 status through existing economic conditions, how does NASL suddenly become good enough to be considered D1, especially after a bankruptcy? And if those teams emerge after the ashes, would those teams be allowed to do anything that they can’t do now? I mean I guess they’re independent except for Traffic’s ownership and there no league to be relegated to. What is the point of being D1?

      • Robert

        February 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm

        We can’t have leagues stronger than clubs in order for soccer to work in this country. MLS/USSF/SUM is suffocating NASL by cherry picking quality franchises and granting them faux promotion.

        If NASL appeals to FIFA and establishes that it will be a league that has independent clubs with a functioning pyramid popularity will increase. MLS isn’t a popular league based on TV ratings. It is a paper champion simply because it has network exposure and the safety of D-1.

        • Heimdall

          February 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm

          Well you already have that in NASL. Teams have total control of their payrolls. If they don’t like the league or if they can’t hang economically, they can actually volunteer to go down a division like Rochester, Charleston this year and Richmond a few years back. Pretty much they can do everything you want them to do except promote themselves to Ultimate NASL division because they’re already in it.

          I know you want teams to move through leagues based on performance but the US just doesn’t have enough well run teams that can withstand the economic shocks of going up and the disillusionment of the fanbase when going down. There’s no Leicester in the US where the organization and the fans can say, “you know we’ll be in the premiership again someday but until then we’re still going to have as much fun until then.” The concept of faithfully following a club team for soccer is still a relatively new concept and because of this (which also explains low tv ratings), teams out there are fighting just to exist and the existing leagues are divided by economics and the one thing that sub-MLS teams need right now is stability.

          MLS learned this lesson last decade. The biggest black eye in the league was contracting the Florida teams. To investors, it signals weakness in their business model, to the outsider, it makes them question if the league will exist in the long term and the die hard fans are left with their enmity. Your new favorite buzzword seems to be faux promotion but you don’t value economic stability like MLS does.

          That’s why MLS won’t let anyone in without a strong ownership group that doesn’t blink at the fee (that includes cheapskate Montreal owner) and a economically favorable venue, so that embarrassing shenanigans like with the St. Louis team pulling out after a year doesn’t happen and to think that the guy wanted a MLS team and when the league allowed for teams to pay players (even the Revs want a DP now) beyond the cap, owners wouldn’t be crying about finances if they are losing money. Next year MLS will bring in team 19 and in a short span of less than a decade, MLS will be one team from doubling its number, what has D2 done in that time?

          USL D1’s biggest failing was that they got comfy with the expansion money, expansion teams are roadkill in the league especially as the number of the teams in the league and they simply didn’t bring in enough stable franchises that could withstand this for a few years. I’m glad the Islanders have grown but there weren’t enough stories like that. Being that the game is still in a big growth cycle in this country, a league is really only as strong as its weakest team.

        • Roger

          February 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm

          Robert. If you were on charge of the NASL and have to design a strategy to take MLS down, what would you do?

          I would use “Art of War” . I would try to hit them where they are weak. I will try to take advantage of MLS ssssslllllooooooowwwww growth, and the stupid relationship between their number of clubs and the size of the nation

          Anounce that you are starting a 2nd division and any city that will meet the required criteria would be admitted.As simple as that.
          Then, publish criteria. Make such criteria clear, and as affordable as it could logically be. As soon as you have a minimun number of clubs , start 2nd div and promotion and relegation. Then keep growing. Do what they don’t do.

          To out-grow them is the way.

          You can not take MLS down by been an 8 clubs league.

          Within the essence of the game ( simplicity, affordability, inclusiion, universality ), lies the answers. Ignore it , and your league will be stuck on neutral. Respect it and you will be rewarded.

      • Charles

        February 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm


        What is the point of being D1 ?!?!

        What is the point of being D2 or D3 ?

        There is no demotion or promotion and never will be. It is like me starting another league tomorrow and telling you we are not as good.

        Why ?

        USL and NASL ARE D1. There is nothing above them in their structure.

        • Heimdall

          February 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

          Uh, yeah Charles…I don’t understand the reason for Robert’s desire for NASL teams wanting to become D1 either.

  10. Dan

    February 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    how did Gullati ever get this job? The guy is a joke. Bradley back and now this?

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