Instead, NASL has had to deal with two expansion debacles in Oklahoma City and Virginia while watching USL’s partnership with MLS bear fruit. Still, Traffic’s CONCACAF relationship was taking a small chunk out of SUM’s American business, especially after the announcement of the 2016 Copa America tournament was to be held in the United States and marketed by Traffic.
In the meantime, anti-MLS fans on social media gravitated toward NASL as a viable alternative to the top-flight league. This happened after the Cosmos entry to the league and was in large measure without any degree of real critical analysis or understanding of NASL’s business model. Instead, a simple assumption that a league that professed to be team owned and not single-entity must be the right formula for the future of the pro game in North America.
But as we have recently learned as a result of reporting of Jonathan Tannenwald, Neil Morris and Brian Quarstad, NASL is in fact owned in large measure not just by its teams but by Traffic Sports. These revelations call into question the rhetoric long espoused by NASL fans.
Traffic Sports USA’s modus operandi in launching NASL and securing CONCACAF rights was largely aimed at challenging MLS. Whether this was done for vanity purposes or for financial reasons is difficult to ascertain. However, it is also challenging to see how Traffic remains relevant or perhaps even solvent in the American market after last week’s revelations. On the other hand, NASL if they can completely cut ties with Traffic Sports, still is an authentic and organic league that can be successful at a lower level if they can find new investors.