NASL's fate hangs in the balance

A decision on the 2017 sanctioning of the NASL and USL was put on hold by U.S. Soccer's board of directors on Tuesday. That leaves the fate of the struggling NASL hanging in the balance but it should give clubs interested in joining the USL more time to seek favorable terms for a move to its rival league.

The NASL, which finished the 2016 season with 12 but has already lost Minnesota to MLS and Tampa Bay and Ottawa to the USL, has been sanctioned as a Division 2 league but will need a waiver to keep its Division 2 status. The USL, which the 2016 season with 29 teams, has spent more than a year working on a Division 2 application that includes all clubs playing in stadiums that seat 5,000 or more fans by next spring.

U.S. Soccer issued a statement:

"After continuing discussions with NASL and USL, the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors postponed the decision on sanctioning/re-certification of leagues for Division 2 and Division 3. We expect to have further discussions in the next 7-10 days as we focus on the resolution of this important matter."

One of the requirements for a Division 2 league in its sixth season, like the NASL was in 2016, is that it has 12 teams. The loss of Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Ottawa drops the NASL down to nine teams, but it was scheduled to welcome the San Francisco Deltas as its first West Coast team in 2017.

The problem is that at least three teams are in dire straits: the champion New York Cosmos, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Rayo OKC. What all three have in common is that their owners are foreign-based.

The three-time champion Cosmos have had their staff on furlough, and goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer confirmed on Tuesday that all players had been released from their contracts.

"We, as players, saw signs a good while ago, but it never hits you like when you get the official notice," wrote Maurer in a message to fans. "All I can say is how thankful I am for every second of my 4 years here, the good times and bad. My family has grown here. We came with a 5-year-old and a one one-month old. We had our third child here. We bought our first house here and we leave with a family of family my boys (9, 3, and 7 mos)."

The seven remaining NASL clubs are Carolina, Indy Eleven, Jacksonville, Miami FC, FC Edmonton, Puerto Rico FC and San Francisco.

The clubs most likely to survive are the best-supported clubs still in the league: Carolina and Indy Eleven.

On Tuesday, North Carolina changed its name from the RailHawks to North Carolina, and its new owner, Steve Malik, announced plans to seek MLS and NWSL teams as well as build a new stadium.

Indy Eleven plans to be around, in one form or another as it stated in a message to its fans and partners:

“We cannot thank you enough for your incredible patience as these unique circumstances continue to be resolved. Know that Indy Eleven continues to plan ahead for the 2017 season at Carroll Stadium and that we provide updates as possible.”

Updates that fans in NASL cities across the country are all waiting for.
1 comment about "NASL's fate hangs in the balance".
  1. Normand Conquest, December 7, 2016 at 10:16 a.m.

    I have liked what has been going on with the Indy Eleven ... they should survive even if it is because of a move to the USL.

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