What about the underlying case? That doesn't mean that the NASL can't win the case or that evidence might not be presented that will bolster what one legal expert otherwise believes might be a difficult case to win.
The Court of Appeals seemed to have sympathy for the Professional League Standards the USSF implemented and the NASL has been attacking, and it asserted that U.S. Soccer's conflict of interest policies regarding board deliberations on pro soccer matters or matters related to SUM would make it difficult to prove there was a conspiracy against the NASL, absent direct or circumstantial evidence.
What is the state of the NASL? The reality is that the NASL continued to fall apart since it sought the preliminary injunction to keep it going as a Division 2 league.
When the lawsuit was filed in September, the NASL was finishing up its 2017 season with eight teams and had two more teams planned for the 2018 season. Since then, the 2017 champion San Francisco Deltas and FC Edmonton folded, and North Carolina FC and Indy Eleven moved to the USL.
The four holdovers are the New York Cosmos, Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC and Puerto Rico FC. The NASL had plans to add two teams for the 2018 season: 1904 FC in the San Diego area and Orange County-based California United FC. Facing stadium issues, 1904 FC has not announced plans to play in 2018.
In one form or another, Jacksonville, Miami FC and California United FC have plans to enter teams in the NPSL or UPSL.
The NASL announced plans in January to switch to a fall-spring calendar, keeping its split season. It issued no statement on its Web site or Twitter account following Friday's release of the U.S. Court of Appeals decision. Indeed, it has not posted anything on its Web site or Twitter account since before the U.S. Soccer presidential election on Feb. 10.
What are the NASL's legal options? The NASL could seek to ask for the appeal to be reheard by all the 2nd Circuit judges or it could file a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court -- both are generally longshots -- though both seem moot points, given the unlikelihood of a Division 2 NASL league playing any time soon.
(The one lingering issue from the decisions of both the District Court and Court of Appeals is why they did not consider the "extreme harm" NASL faced if a preliminary injunction wasn't granted to be sufficient to issue the injunction.)
The NASL could go ahead with its antitrust lawsuit back in District Court, where it would have to first fight off a motion to dismiss by the USSF. It seeks a permanent injunction to eliminate U.S. Soccer's divisional structure, allowing leagues to operate without designations and without the Division 1 classification that, the NASL argues, gives MLS an advantage.
The NASL has also filed a civil suit against members of the USSF's board of directors for breach of their fiduciary duties to the NASL in the handling of the sanctioning decision. It is seeking injunctive, monetary -- not less than $100 million -- and declaratory relief.
The NASL could also settle, though that seems unlikely at this point unless it somehow involves a resolution of the case against members of the USSF's board of directors in New York state court. Any victory in District Court on divisional designations alone would at this point be something of a Pyrrhic victory.