NASL Takes Issue with US Soccer’s Proposed Changes to First Division Standards

IMAGE, DAVE MARTINEZ, EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by JAKE NUTTING

The North American Soccer League have sent a shot across the bow of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

A story posted by the Financial Times in the UK reveals the league has sent notice to the American soccer governing body over grievances surrounding significant changes to the Division I league standards.

No one from the league office was directly quoted in the piece, but Jeffrey Kessler, a sports and antitrust attorney representing the NASL, commented on the current tension between the federation and the second division league in a leaked letter to the outlet.

The NASL’s main issue seems to be with proposed changes to the standards for Division I in the U.S after just amending the standards in early 2014. The new requirements dictate that to be Division I, a league must now have at least 16 teams (Up from 12), 75 percent of the teams in the league must have a population of 2 million (Up from 1 million) and all stadiums must have a seating capacity of 15,000.

From the piece:

“Doubling the population criteria now is an anti-competitive bait and switch, with the purpose of entrenching MLS’s monopoly position at the very time when the NASL is threatening to become a significant competitor,” Jeffrey Kessler, an antitrust and sports attorney representing NASL, wrote in a letter to Sunil Gulati, head of US Soccer, and seen by the Financial Times.

“The financial damage is significant,” Mr Kessler told the FT. “Simply put, the actions by US Soccer are hindering the league’s earnings potential with advertisers, broadcasters and other business partners, who will pay top dollar only for Division I, regardless of the quality of play or passion of the fans,” he said.

The NASL applied for first division status in January but the application has apparently been put on hold.

It’s important to note that none of the proposed changes mentioned in the piece would impact the standards for the second or third division. The NASL may be angling to be considered on the same level as MLS in Division I, but it may have competition in the short term in its own ranks. The third division USL, a league that has aligned itself with MLS for a strategic partnership, has made clear its intention to pursue second division status as early next year.

Another sticking point that has vexed the modern era NASL is the unequal representation on the USSF’s board of directors. While MLS has a healthy representation on the council, the NASL contends has none. Further, they contend that the federation may be too closely tied to MLS due to the marketing partnership between US Soccer and the MLS-owned Soccer United Marketing.

No representative from US Soccer or MLS provided the Financial Times with a comment.

  • Andrew Bissonette

    What is with the NASL’s obsessive need to be the first division in the US? Its literally never going to happen. They are unbelievably far behind MLS and don’t have a shot in hell to catch up. If they decide they want to start spending like MLS does, they’ll wind up folding as a league entirely.

    • Jukebox Pony

      There is another angle they are going. Here’s the big picture some MLS fans seem to not understand. Lower division leagues and clubs are not treated with respect within the soccer governing body and they don’t get enough respect from so-called American soccer fans. This country runs off of supporting only the first division while putting the middle finger up at the lower divisions and youth leagues. The NASL plans is to become 1st division and merge with the NPSL. That merger will open the door for other lower division clubs in other American leagues to join and fight to become semi-pro to professional. No non-feeder club want to stay amateur and ever club want to have an equal part into growing American soccer as a nation.

      MLS and the USSF are against anything that have to do with lower divisions unless they are helping MLS’s gain. The USL would be on the NASL’s same boat, but they sold themselves to be a MLS reserve and club affiliated league. Even newer leagues like the CSL-USA and ASL are trying to start something that’s not like the Americanized mess we see with MLS and USL. The USSF and MLS are a embarrassment to Association football. I hope the lower divisions within the USASA and NASL leave them soon. They will have a better future then than where they are now.

      • Anonymous

        I think it’s pretty bizarre that NASL seems to believe that soccer in this country can support two separate first division leagues when that clearly hasn’t proven to be the case in any other sport. Yes, we’ve had competing leagues in basketball, football, and baseball, but in the end, they’ve all merged into a single top entity. So what exactly is NASL’s play here? Are they trying to get big enough to merge with MLS or are they seriously thinking of competing for the primary position, stretching the resources of both leagues, and possibly damaging US Soccer overall in the process by diluting what little talent we actually have by spreading it across both leagues?

        The USSF may be corrupt as hell, but I think that for the purpose of growing the sport in the country, they’re making the right decision by aligning themselves with a single entity (MLS), even if it may be an imperfect one. We need a coherent direction that everyone can get on, not some Game of Throne situation where it’s every league for itself competing to be the top league and damaging each other in the process. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being a lower tier league. It’s important to the infrastructure of the sport to have a strong system of minor league teams much like baseball has AAA and AA teams. It’s an important place for players to develop and prove themselves.

        It seems like NASL can’t accept this, however, and is simply hell bent on becoming top dog at the expense of all else. This isn’t about respect. It’s about greed and ambition–not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that. Just call a spade a spade.

        Having said all that, I do think it’s amusing that a league is complaining that the definition of a first division league in a professional sport requires more than 12 teams, that those teams actually be in significant markets, and that their stadiums should hold 15,000 people minimum. I understand that the bar was lower before, but that speaks more to USSF’s lack of standards than it does some sort of unfairness. Rather than trying to get away with doing the bare minimum and complaining when that bare minimum is no longer absurdly low, maybe NASL should plan its expansion better and set the type of standards for itself that anyone else would expect from a league that’s clearly got its eyes set on the top spot. It took MLS 20 years to get to where it is today. What makes NASL think that they can (or should be able to) compete with two decade’s worth of league development in just half a decade?

        • Jukebox Pony

          That’s because you are comparing soccer with other sports. Not every American league should be modeled the same. Soccer is the only global sports league in this country, so all that other mess needs to be left out. How awesome would it be if mostly every state have a league to represent them? That would be awesome and it would be even more awesome for the American talent pool. What is done by the USSF is not for the greater good nor has it every helped American soccer grow. You seem to forget that this is the same USSF that been through many 1st divisions in it’s history. Every league ran like it’s NFL and MLB. It’s sad that you feel that what the corrupt things MLS and the USSF is doing are working. It’s not. The MLS is growing out its league to mirror the NFL, not a soccer league. Doing that very thing is known for killing our leagues and what makes it even more sad is that the USSF will most likely make the same mistakes again. The USSF is not growing American soccer the right way and our lower divisions and children who want to play is suffering because of it. I hated watching a large group of unhappy children stop playing soccer because unlike other countries, they have to pay to get noticed by they’re local team.

          I do not get why it is so hard for MLS fans to get. We currently have a youth club that trained Yedlin on the verge of suing MLS and the USSF for not giving them the cut of Yedlin’s transfer to Tottinham Hotspurs. Other league all over the country do it and it is in FIFA’s rules. You of having two D1 leagues messing things up, but I feel MLS and the USSF already done a great job of that.

          Other than that, you are right. The NASL do need to focus on expansion and building itself up before challenging MLS and the USSF, however, I understand the NASL’s part. It took MLS 20 years to get where they are now, but being a first division league also helped them grow too. You forget how this country work. In order for the NASL to get those things, they must become D1. Under the older rule, the NASL could have eventually get those things the USSF ask for, but the lease they could do is put them on a time limit to get those things done.

          • BleedingRed

            The NASL is critizing MLS for killing soccer in America…what a fucking riot.

          • BleedingRed

            Also, I don’t know how other MLS academies operate, but here in the Tri-State area the Red Bulls Academy is free for children to join and has been ranked #1 academy in North America. So send your children here: http://www.redbullsacademy.com/academy/

          • Anonymous

            I appreciate your idealism, but I think you’re neglecting the business realities in favor of them. We will never have a professional soccer team for each of the 50 states in the country nor should we. What dumbass would you pay to invest in that kind of infrastructure? Unless you want “Division 1” soccer to be played on rented college and high school fields, it’s not financially feasible. Also, no intelligent person is going to invest the millions required to build a stadium, sign a team, and maintain that stadium only to risk being a minor league team with no revenue. Baseball is much bigger in this country than soccer and even in that sport, we don’t have the talent pool to create 50 competitive professional teams in that sport. Hell, we don’t have the talent pool to fill the major league teams that we have right now. What on earth makes you think that just because we create more teams, good players will appear in order to fill them?

            You may not think that the MLS is doing a good job at elevating soccer in this country, but if you look at where we were as a soccer country in 1996 and where we are today, I think it’s difficult to deny that we’ve made tremendous improvement across the board. The MLS, for all of its flaws, is quickly becoming recognized around the world as a competitive league that’s up and coming and now a viable option for good players. So clearly, whatever they’re doing is working despite your opinions.

      • Mr.Sunshine

        Obviously you haven’t heard what Bill Edwards is doing with the Rowdies and his comments when he fired the coach because he didn’t believe anything about growth of the sport; instead just wanted to buy players. Yea NASL is should be on top…at least in some way Orlando City has done a better job of reaching out to the youth and implanted scouts in various high schools in order to find those missing links for growth. The MLS I believe has improved a lot and we still have a lot of work to do because there are places that need restructuring; Philly, Colorado, Chicago, and New England. It’s only a matter of time.

    • Anonymous

      Crystal ball talking? Not sure you have the right to tell any team in any market they can’t move up to 1st division. This isn’t the NFL its soccer if MLS wants to do their own thing let them operate like that heroe league in India without a sanction.

  • Jukebox Pony

    Typical USSF and MLS. Corrupt til the end.

  • Anonymous

    Why do we need more than one “first division league” again?

    • Jukebox Pony

      Because other clubs need a chance to grow instead of suffering through the MLS monopoly. If you want the player pool to grow and see those great lower divisions clubs that showed well in the USOC have a chance to move up the pyramid by great performance and quality, then that is why we need another first division. We have one league focused on MLS and another one focused on American soccer. MLS is not the answer for American soccer because they are against anything that have to do with it. MLS and the USSF don’t treat the youth leagues right to the point one club is on the verge to sue them with the support of other youth clubs. There are reports saying the USSF bullys the youth clubs from receiving money from clubs that buy players they trained.

      • Anonymous

        Traditionally in American sports, we don’t have entire teams or leagues moving up and down. Good players go from lower tier leagues to higher tier leagues. I understand that other leagues have promotion/relegation of teams, but even in those situations, there’s a single top league in those countries for teams to get promoted to even if you wanted to do that. Having two “first division” leagues simply confuses the issue.

        The MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, etc. all have effective monopolies with a franchise system similar to MLS in this country and that has not hurt any of those sports. You won’t see anyone seriously arguing that minor league baseball teams should be promoted to the majors and that major league teams should be relegated to the minors. Aside from the absurd marketing issues that would create, it’s also a complete waste of resources because of the stadium situation. The franchise system works fine and it’s proven to work fine. The only reason that we even have this debate in soccer is because some of the other big leagues do it–leagues that have historic differences in the development of the sport from what we have here.

        All of those leagues also happen to have 3 or 4 teams that repeatedly dominate everyone else, making the entire system of promotion and relegation effectively meaningless anyway since the teams on the threshold don’t win anything meaningful anyway. All you’re doing is replacing one irrelevant team getting stomped with another.

        I think the best thing for US Soccer would be for MLS to eventually become like the MLB where you have multiple tiers each feeding the tier above it. We don’t need entire teams moving up and down. We just need to move the top performing players up to where they belong while leaving the dead weight on each team where they belong rather than getting pulled up by default if their team gets promoted. The good thing is that seems to be the direction US Soccer and MLS are attempting to go. The bad thing is that they’re doing a **** job of it so far and the salary cap in MLS hurts our ability to retain talented players.

        One can argue that this is just a result of our status on the global stage, much like top tier Japanese baseball teams still end up losing players to American teams simply because MLB is a tier above, but it does certainly suck…

        • Jukebox Pony

          Basically, a cookie cutter league with nothing special. It said to see soccer fans that want the sport to be run like a baseball league and compare it to other American sports that run differently. I guess American soccer will always be the way it is. More children being turned away from playing the sport, no equal rights for clubs in every division and calling a goal a touchdown. Yep. That’s how a growing number of fans want soccer to be played. It’s more of a gimmick than an actual sport. Then again, sports being more of a gimmick is American sports in general.

          • Jim

            Nobody is turning children away from playing. If I’m not mistaken its the number one participation sports in the country is it not? MLS academies are now almost all free besides DC’s and Toronto’s.

            Nobody wants to call a goal a touchdown. Seriously, c’mon.

            What, pray tell, is not cookie-cutter about European leagues where only 4 teams in England and only 2 everywhere else can ever win the title? Where the majority of teams just have to settle for “happy to be here” and the rest return to minor league status after getting stomped on for a season?

            MLS is not perfect. I’m a Revs fan, you want complaints and issues, clear your schedule for a few weeks and listen to us talk about them. It is, however, the longest-lasting and most successful soccer league this country has ever had. More and more ambitious, big-spending ownership groups are coming into the league and hopefully they get the laggards to get their asses in gear.

            When I see a lot of people in jerseys of teams from Serie B, The Championship, and Ascenso MX instead of the usual Barca/Chelsea/PSG shirts I see everyday in Manhattan I’ll believe that promotion/relegation is a viable concept here. Americans understand major leagues and minor leagues. If you dropped out of the big league, you’ll be in a minor league and you’ll lose fans and corporate sponsorship- that happens everywhere around the world. In places where the sport is the unquestioned king (and they get parachute payments) that isn’t fatal. Here (and especially here in NYC) it’s “what have you done for me lately?” and there are at least 2 other pro sports options in any sizeable town.

            • slowleftarm

              Agree generally but American soccer fans understand the concept of pro/rel and it doesn’t require you to be a rocket scientist to get it. NASL is a clown league but I think an MLS with 2 20 team divisions with pro/rel could be viable down the road.

    • Tom

      Maybe instead of D1,D2, and D3 pro leagues should be sanctioned and classed on two levels as “Professional Independant League” (MLS, NASL) and Reserve/Affiliate Minor League (USL).

      Drop requirements to 10K+ Stadiums for Pro Independant.

  • BleedingRed

    I would love to see the three leagues consolidated into two. Two strong, sustainable leagues. At twenty four teams the USL is almost twice the size of the NASL, at thirteen teams. In fact, NASL rushed to add their thirteenth team in Puerto Rico for fear that Minnesota was getting ever closer to joining MLS in the future. I don’t see how the NASL will be able to stop itself from falling to the status of third tier. If their teams want to be in the mix going forward they should just join MLS or USL. It’s for the best.

    • BleedingRed

      Here’s a comprehensive and impartial breakdown: http://lastwordonsports.com/2015/06/03/usl-rising-the-usl-is-above-the-nasl/

      • Tom

        Thats rubbish and you obviously don’t have much knowledge of the NASL.
        USL is the league that has teams playing before a few hundred fans each game, is a farm team/affiliate minor league with just about half the average attendance of the D2 NASL, pays players less salaries than NASL.

        Did Jurgen Klinsmen pick any USL players like he has when Ibarra was with the NASL? He also had good comments about the NASL and none about the farm team minor league usl. NASL has a National TV broadcaster for its Wednesday games, USL is on youtube. NASL has a deal with ESPN broadcasting games around the world. NASL clubs have local tv deals unlike D3 usl. NASL has players like Raul and Senna. USL none. Learn about the leagues before posting BS plz.

  • Kevin

    So the standards were amended earlier this year and then out of thin air amended again? The standards are clearly aimed at NASL, the fact that there are no representatives from the NASL on the USSF board is a bit odd. I don’t see a two league top division either, but the USSF runs soccer in this country in the oddest way, from top to bottom. This is,all going to be interesting to watch, especially with MLS basically taking USL under their wing.

  • OpenCupFan

    What does population have to do w/ soccer teams’ quality?

  • Matt Diggs

    The USSF is not going to sanction two D1 leagues. NASL should be more concerned about maintaining its D2 status.

    • Kevin

      I can’t I’m saying but I agree with Slowleft. 2 20 ream divisions in mls with pro/related seems more realistic then 2 separate division ones

  • US Soccer

    This very conversation came up recently in the blog about the Cosmos waiting for approval to build a stadium in Long Island. A stupid location choice by the way. The NASL is trying to get on equal footing with MLS and it’s not going to happen by staying separate. Instead they are trying to battle with a league that has been in place for 20 years and is recognized throughout the world the United States first division soccer. FIFA will not turn on MLS and intervene no matter how much NASL officials and owners stomp their feet and cry about it. If these teams want to survive and actually succeed, they need to eat their humble pie and come to the bargaining table with MLS. Only through unification of the 2 leagues will they prosper. Instead they are acting as if MLS has not been running soccer here for the past two decades, filling the void they (NASL) left when their league failed and collapsed in 1984. I proposed in a prior blog that an arrangement like Serie A and B in Italy would be a great model for soccer here. That model would allow all teams to potentially play in first division soccer based on their performance. NASL needs to wake up. I would love to see they’re teams succeed and allow more of our American soccer players the opportunity to play pro soccer. They need to accept that they NEED MLS assistance to succeed. Otherwise, they can continue to play in matches no one cares about, and receive little to no recognition on the world stage.

    • DanGerman

      Now that is a well thought out post with ZERO fanboy comments. OpenCupFan, take note. This lawsuit smacks of desperation and the only one who’ll win in all this are the lawyers. The league has to show cause and I don’t know if they can. This lawyer by the way already sued USSF and MLS, lost both times. The NASL just needs to focus on improving itself and worry less about everything else.

  • soccerfan

    To be honest , I rather have the NASL rather than MLS …. One league has the correct way of building the sport and teams , while the other league, wants to control everything , and cares less and less about creating future players… D2 or D1 , I support the NASL ,rather then the MLS …. The NASL has been around for 3 years now , and its growing, and doing things well, in 5 years i can compare where both leagues stand and how much they have done…. But at the moment i cannot judge a new league who has hopes on making soccer successful the right way ….

  • The NASL has an idea to be ambitious in this soccer market. Being Second Division limits the possibility of growth. There are certain investors, such as but not limited to the Cosmos, who simply reject the idea to pay tens of millions in franchise fees to then hand over ownership of your team to the league. So they are pursuing this alternative model which not incidentally follows the global soccer model.

    MLS has no interest in helping NASL, which they have proven time and time again. To the contrary, MLS treats NASL as a competitor and looks to undermine it at every turn. That is fair, after all, it’s a capitalist system and business is dog eat dog. NASL is simply attempting to put itself on an equal footing to at least compete with MLS. It’s true, NASL may fail in this endeavor. But if you believe in a market system, and believe that market systems improve the product, you should be applauding this, even as a fan of an MLS franchise.

    And by the way, though plaintiffs have lost ultimately against MLS in prior anti-trust suits, the courts have far from endorsed MLS practices. Indeed, the reasoning of the first anti trust suit is premised on the notion that the USSF has NOT granted D1 status to MLS in perpetuity, and that such a permanent designation might have changed this result. Do the moving goalposts of D1 criteria favoring MLS constitute a grant of permanent exclusive D1 status? I don’t know for sure, but certainly sounds like a reasonable case to be made.

    • Anonymous

      I hope Fifa steps in

      • DanGerman

        FIFA won’t step in on local soccer matters. The only time FIFA gives a damn is when the local government meddles with soccer matters.

        • Well FIFA has already “stepped in” by allowing the U.S. a pro/rel exemption. Does taking away an exemption constitute stepping in?

  • REAL OpenCupFans know nasl teams are bad

    I love the fact that nasl is arguing to keep the standards for D1 soccer in this country low. If they had real ambitions and ability and wanted to move the bar higher for soccer for all of us, they would applaud higher standards and work like hell to meet them at a higher level of achievement and business prowess. That’s what would develop soccer more in this country. Develop young talent in academies like MLS is doing – the nasl does none of that. It is telling that they cannot meet these standards, that is why they are not and should not be D1.

    What a joke, they should be more worried about being lowered to D3 status since they can’t even beat USL teams in the open cup!

    • MLS has already influenced the lowest standard for D1 criteria, creating an exception so that one entity owns all the teams. Why don’t you advocate for removing that criteria if you’re interested in enhancing D1 criteria?

    • Tom

      NASL clubs have beaten USL teams in the open cup but they had a bad day for a handful of matches this year on a day when the league had bad news but usl fanboys will pretend that this is the gold standard to measure the leagues which its not. It was a perfect storm day for usl and won’t happen again. NASL clubs have also beaten MLS clubs in open cup over the years and this year as well. Lower level clubs like D5 Cal FC beat a lot of higher div clubs a couple of years back in usoc.

  • slowleftarm

    No other country has two D1 leagues. Now pipe down NASL and worry about beating USL next season, which will become increasingly difficult as time goes on.

    • It’s true, no other country has two D1 leagues. So why should a league in which one entity has majority ownership in all teams have D1 over a league with 13 different ownership groups?

      • slowleftarm

        Why shouldn’t it? Why should our D1 league be a league with teams in Louisville and Ottawa rather than a league with teams in NYC, LA and other major cities? Why should it be a league which has its games streamed for free on ESPN3 instead of a league with a $90m/year TV deal through 2022?

        • Because a $90 million per year television contract dooms our division 1 to fourth tier status globally. Giving a different league div 1 status and an opportunity to exceed a tiny little tv contract like MLS has can only be a positive thing. No other league can challenge MLS’s paltry global status if no other teams have a chance to be div 1.

          You realize that MLS’s long term television contract causes MLS to fall further and further behind globally, right?

          • Eric B

            You think a tv network will pay more for the markets of Edmonton, Raleigh/Durham, and Jacksonville than it will for Chicago, LA, Philly, etc.? $90 million per year may not be great, but it beats anything the NASL would get.

            • slowleftarm

              20 years ago this league didn’t exist. The old NASL led by the Cosmos, the club whose name your club co-opted to cash in on nostalgia, was defunct. The idea we would have a 20 team (soon to be 24) league playing in mostly SSS with per game average attendance of 21k a game would have seemed like pure fantasy. The idea that a $90m a year TV contract would be disappointing would be laughable.

              Any unbiased observer would be pretty impressed with what MLS has achieved so far. Sure, it’s not the EPL or La Liga, not even close (yet), but those leagues had 100+ year head start. Could NASL, whose flagship team draws 4k in a college lacrosse stadium, have done better. Doubt it!

              • You realize that NASL looks far healthier in year 4 than MLS did in year 4, right? At any rate, $90 million isn’t horrible for this year, but locking that amount in until year 2022, myself and most financial analysts believe, will make it impossible for the league to compete meaningfully globally for the next decade.

                And why would the idea that they are drawing 21K be “pure fantasy” when they’re average attendance the first year was 18K? Why is a 16% increase over 20 years, or an average increase of less than 1% per year, so impressive to you? I am assuming you’re young (lucky you) and haven’t been around soccer for long, so you’re not aware of anything that happened in soccer prior to 2010.

                I’m not saying NASL can or will “do it better”, but your antipathy towards the league for trying is strange and counterproductive.

                • Cirris

                  “You realize that NASL looks far healthier in year 4 than MLS did in year 4, right? At any rate.”

                  That’s like saying settlers on trains are better than the settlers in wagons that came before them before them.

                  The settlers in wagons laid the tracks to make it easier for those that followed.

                  • ok, so what’s your point? That we should all be eternally thankful and never challenge the MLS franchise system?

                    • slowleftarm

                      I actually agree with you on pro/rel and certain aspects of MLS. I’ve actually been a fan of MLS since the beginning and of soccer generally way before that. You and most financial analysts think…LOL. Ok, now stop playing financial analyst and get ready for that big DUI trial you have coming up.

                    • I really don’t like to do this, Slowleftarm, but it’s time for me to pull rank. Dude, you sit in a cubicle 40 hours per week, get two weeks vacation and get a paltry check direct deposit every other week, and count down the hours by posting here to get through another boring day. How do I know, because you only post until 4:59 pm. I’m on my 5th week of my summer vacation in my house in Eastern Long Island with my family and founded one of the top civil rights law firms in the state, doing well by doing good. I have produced films that appear at Tribeca. I am not afraid to post under my name, know enough people in the business of soccer and in politics to have information that, when I can, I share with people in an honest way.

                      You, on the other hand, are afraid to post under your own name lest you embarrass yourself, you have nothing of real value to add, only opinions based on no information, have no contacts, no connections, no power, and do nothing productive. And though I can’t be sure, you sound like a virgin.

                      This is my last interaction with you. Don’t ask me for a job, either. Good luck.

                    • slowleftarm

                      Leo, don’t lie. You love to “pull rank” because it helps quell your crushing insecurities for you to post a puff piece on a soccer blog about your minimal and unimpressive accomplishments. I’m not going to break anonymity because I’m not advertising for clients but trust me when I say you have absolutely no basis to “pull rank” on me.

                      LOL, NY is surely in trouble if a four person law firm representing petty criminal defendants and DUI offenders is the premier civil rights law firm in the state. Now, please get back to prepping your client for that huge DUI trial you’ve got coming up. You are big time!

                    • The **** ants hate it when they’ve been pissed on. Losers.

                    • slowleftarm

                      I thought that was my last interaction with you. If not, please try to make future comments directed to me more coherent.

              • Tom

                @slowleftarm – Cosmos are averaging 5485 per game not 4K. At a poorly located stadium with poor dates available, a temporary venue till they get their own stadium built in a better location so not bad considering the locale they’re temporarily at.

                MLS/USL fanboys constantly get their facts wrong because they know nothing of the NASL.

                • slowleftarm

                  Actually, it is bad. Terrible in fact. This is a club whose fans pretend they are the biggest name in US Soccer and too good for MLS. And a fanboy is bragging about 5485 a game (which includes the opening day sellout)? LOL.

                  • Tom

                    You didn’t address your lying of their true attendance numbers.

                    @slowleftarm – your a true fanboy and no one should take you or your made up information seriously, your comments have no legitimacy and no one should take you seriously.

                    • slowleftarm

                      Ironically, you take me seriously enough to post detailed rebuttals to my comments.

                      I’ll address the “lying”: I don’t care enough to calculate the Cosmos attendance numbers so I provided a rough estimate based on recent attendance totals I’ve seen, some of which have been under 4k. Ok I’ll give it to you: I haven’t checked but I’ll assume it’s 5485. That’s pathetic and sitting here bragging about it or trying to spin it as successful is laughable.

    • Anonymous

      Yes two D1 would be an outlier.
      So would single entity, also the absence of pro/rel, and the ability to purchase a D1 spot

    • Tom

      India, ISL and I-League.

      NASL beating USL teams will actually become easier as time goes on as players follow the money and NASL pays higher salaries than USL’s farm team affiliate minor league.

      • slowleftarm

        Yes, by all means, let’s model our country’s football structure on India – that global football juggernaut.

  • Anthony J. Merced

    Designations (D1,D2) should be removed in the absence of pro/rel. Let NASL do what they will, in a different business model from MLS. If they are successful, great! If they aren’t they’ll change, merge or go under. Removing those sanctions, once again especially in the lack of pro/rel, shouldn’t stop MLS from continuing business as usual and will release other leagues from being slapped with a label before they have a chance to create a real structure for themselves.

    (Just my opinion)

  • US Soccer

    True I can’t think of anything that MLS has done to help the NASL. But I have to ask, why would they when at every turn it seems hey are thumbing their noses at MLS? I’m just being realistic here. MLS has been holding together soccer in this country for the past 20 years. NASL just got here! MLS has money, established teams and training academies, stadiums, and not to mention a whole lot of fans. They have the recognition and blessing of FIFA as the first division. They are recognized throughout the world as the first division. Most people can’t name more than a team or two in NASL, if they’ve even heard of it. Most people I know don’t know the Cosmos team was resurrected. (That’s the flagship team of the league) Again, I’m just being realistic. We are obviously soccer enthusiasts here. Not everyone is. NASL has no substantial fan base as of yet, most of the teams don’t have their own place to play, no real established academies, etc. From a financial perspective, the NASL has everything against them if they don’t play nice with MLS. Now put yourselves in the position of MLS. Why would you do anything to help a league that’s seems to be attempting a coup that threatens everything you’ve built over 20 years? MLS is just starting to send a message to NASL with these changes to the standards. They haven’t even taken they’re gloves off. The NASL is just acting stupidly. Lets face it, we don’t need two competing first division leagues in this country. It will never work. If NASL wants to advance soccer here, then UNIFY. MLS is by no means perfect. Through unification the positive things the NASL brings with it can help bring positive changes and improve American soccer.

  • I dont disagree with ypu us soccer. Mls owes the nasl nothing. But neither does the nasl owe mls. This is big business playing itself out. The nasl minnow taking on the mls whale in the great spirit of capitalism.

  • And we will see if nasl is “acting stupidly” wont we?

  • Resguard

    I think that we can exist with 2 first divisions, it is about time. They need to be seen on an equal playing field for a few years, see which one develops the nations best soccer. If one ends up folding or failing to live up to a division one standard then that is what happens. MLS and NASL are two very different business models and as a fan I like having choice. Yes NASL needs time to develop but they are doing it at a stable and rapid pace. Because at the end of the day I am a fan of the sport and no matter what happens I think that we all end up winners with more of the sport! WOOOOOOO lol! I got over excited there….

    • US Soccer

      Ok I’ll play along. So we grant 2 leagues 1st division status. Now what happens? You have the NASL cup and the MLS cup winners. Then what?
      Do we have another cup to determine who is best?

      • You have the nasl champion and the mls champion. A one-off game between the nasl and mls winners would be interesting, but hardly necessary.

        • Smith

          Like Major League baseball did it from 1903 to 1993.

          Two leagues that don’t play during the regular season but face off in the Fall to decide the Champion.

          • Anonymous

            Until they realized that it was a stupid system.

            • How old are you?

              • Smith

                Me? 50.

                • No anonymous 1:33

                • I’m 50 too. Two old farts

                  • Smith

                    Two wise, old veterans of NY and US soccer who have an appreciation for the Clash is how I look at it.

                    • Big ups!

                    • slowleftarm

                      Leo’s substantive responses are generally lacking so he falls back on how old he is. Not going to attract clients that way Leo! Your Honor, my client is guilty but I’m just so damn old so we win anyway right?

                    • Anonymous trolls, sitting in cubicles or in their parents basement, accomplishing nothing, living pathetic lives. All they have is anonymous trolling. When you have accomplished one thing in your life slowleftarm, let me know. Until then, you should just read and learn.

                    • slowleftarm

                      Leo, everyone on here is anonymous except you because we aren’t trying to drum up business.

        • Tom

          Fun Fact : NASL’s New York Cosmos made more prize money in the Lunar New Year AET Cup in 2015 (200K) than the MLS cup winner gets.

  • US Soccer

    I don’t see it ever happening. But I guess it would be interesting.

  • Freddie Football

    What would be different tomorrow if NASL was deemed D1?

    • Resguard

      They would be given spots for CCL

  • US Soccer

    Absolutely nothing I guess.

    • US Soccer

      It would be different if it was in a country where the most popular sport was soccer. That is not the case here, although it is growing more popular each year. NASL is trying to do too much too fast.

      • OpenCupFan

        Does NASL have a choice?

  • Kevin

    I still don’t see the two div 1 leagues working. though I love the NASL and think their model doesn’t at all hamstring teams like the MLS, I think the NASL needs to get stronger themselves before they challenge for D-1. As for the standards and regulations of the MLS, lets remember that NYCFC hasn’t had to follow seemingly what the rest of the MLS teams had to follow to get into the league….. I’d love to hear what these two commissioners have to say about this topic. And its nice to see the comments on this forum today, seemingly very intelligent ideas from both sides

  • OpenCupFan

    India has 2 division 1 leagues. Not that anyone should emulate it.
    .
    Interested to see how this plays out in court. This was always going to end up in Court anyway, MLS controlling USSF into changing d1 requirements just may push up the time frame for NASL to act.
    .
    First suing Oklahoma Energy owner, now this, it is good NASL is fighting back.
    .
    Remember, USSF mandate is to promote soccer in the U.S., not to promote only MLS. Can’t see how USSF can defend itself in front of a disinterested judge.

  • OpenCupFan

    As Americans we learn the benefits of free market and the evils of monopoly in school as kids. We all do. It is incontrovertible.
    .
    So I don’t understand how anyone can defend MLS’ market manipulation – you can’t trust anything that comes from a monopoly, history has shown this over and over again.

  • REAL OpenCupFans know nasl teams are bad

    so suing soccer club owners who did not want to go in their league like the nasl did to Oklahoma is really helping move soccer forward in this country, right?

    Come on now, the cosmos and nasl are being driven by those criminals at traffic sports trying to muscle their way into the US market, and it threatens to hurt MLS where the academies and investments into new young talent is takin gplace. How many academies does the nasl have, how many national teamers have played there or been developed there – basically none. nasl should stick to trying to beat some of the lower division USL teams they lost to 7 straight times!

  • Kevin

    U just made that up didn’t u. The Oklahoma owners didn’t want to be in the NASL? Get your facts straight, the,owners promised a million different things to the NASL, then pulled the wool over their eyes,when they weren’t actually ever prepared to get the team or the stadium off the ground.

    • OpenCupFan

      Kevin, bro, don’t let these mls bots bother you. They’re not interested in honest conversations, just in misinformation.
      .
      Free market > monopoly
      .
      — monopolies are only good for owners, remember your American history

      • slowleftarm

        In other words, you have to fight the monopoly because it rejected your club.

        • OpenCupFan

          In America we know free market > monopoly

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  • jonny99

    Simply let the market determine the winners and losers,without outside interference.Capitalism and the american way at its best….oops, I forgot, this isnt america anymore.Ok—-oveeregulate and destroy,the new american way.

  • Excellent piece.

    • OpenCupFan

      Leo, not sure if you’re still reading this comments section but a quick q based on your legal expertise, if you don’t mind.
      – does NASL have any choice but to sue USSF? (Of course, not including folding up its tent or joining the usl reserve league)

  • REAL OpenCupFans know nasl teams are bad

    yeah, working the free market and actually getting decent players on par with MLS level (not their retired rejects), producing young homegrown players like MLS clubs are, and actually getting more than 3000 fans to a game in long island. Let the free market decide you say – well it has decided for Red Bull and NYCFC in the NY market by over 20K more a game – what else do you need to hear before you know the cosmos and nasl are losing the game… and on the field they lost 7 straight times to the “usl reserve league”.

  • US Soccer

    I can see some of the standards proposed are to ensure that these teams will succeed. As with the population requirements, you’re team is less likely to make it if its based in a market that doesn’t have the population to fill a stadium or buy your product. As far as the stadium requirements, if you plan to play MLS teams, you will need stadiums that are large enough for the MLS fans to come watch their teams play the NASL teams. If you want open completion and equality then I expect they will play MLS teams and those teams will bring their large fan base with them. NYC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Miami, LA, etc..are what your shooting for to base your teams and venues. Podunk Twp, population 12,000 isn’t going to cut it in the big leagues. You need to be based in a large city, or close enough to it to get people to come see you play. I’m not trying to preach down to NASL folks at all, but this is just being realistic. If you want to play with the big dogs you have to be able to support big league play. As far as 12 team requirement increasing to 16 I’m not sure what the reasoning is. What the NASL teams should do is seek out support from other sports venues who can support those numbers, as MLS did, until they can build venues of their own that meet all the standards. NYCFC got Yankee stadium to do just that. I went to their match against Columbus last week and they had easily over 20K there. In the old days the Cosmos used Yankee stadium and the Meadowlands because they had no home of their own and pulled large crowds. (Why they are at Hofstra now, I don’t know.. But that’s another conversation) Again, I personally don’t think the best way is a separate league, but if it is going to be its own separate 1st division then they need to get their act together to do it.

  • Soccer in Cinci

    Everyone wants to be at the top, but can the NASL really have an argument when in the Open Cup majority of them were knocked out by USL 3rd division teams? Yes one or two MLS teams did lose, but look at the roster that was used and it is clear to see majority of the players were 3rd stringers. We might as well grab amateur teams and make them 1st division based on this logic (at least they may actually be able to compete)

    • Tom

      Not that the usoc games mean much as a barometer, 1 off matches, but no, the MLS clubs don’t always use 2nd teams. Cosmos beat the Red Bulls last year without their top 3 players and the Red Bulls played the same lineup as they did the week previous vs an MLS franchise. Like the Cosmos they were missing 3 starting players. Cosmos beat MLS’s NYCFC this year and the MLS franchise was playing a strong roster not a 2nd team roster.

      • slowleftarm

        Wow I cannot believe we are talking about that 2014 US Open cup win by Cosmos against a second string RBNY team. 1. That was not the exact same lineup that played in MLS the previous week. 2. For the game against Cosmos, RBNY were missing Henry, Cahill, Dax, Miller, Robles and Olave. That’s clearly a second choice team – missing 6 of their 8 best players that year (BWP and Sam played). We saw what happened this year when an MLS team takes a game against Cosmos seriously – Cosmos get spanked.

        • Tom

          Nice try but not true, as said, NYRB played the same lineup they did the week before in their MLS match vs the Cosmos and both were missing key players in the usoc match.

          As for this year vs Red Bulls, they lost that one and props to NYRB. We know you’ll never give the same accolades to the Cosmos for beating MLS’s NYRB or NYCFC except in a sarcastic way like a true fanboy.

          You didn’t mention NYCFC who the NASL’s Cosmos beat this year- going to pretend they didn’t play a strong lineup as well vs the Cosmos?

          • slowleftarm

            So it’s not true that that RBNY team was missing Henry, Cahill, Dax, Robles, Olave and Miller? Check again. The fact they may have played a similar lineup the week before doesn’t make it a first choice team. Cahill and Miller were at the world cup and Olave and Henry didn’t play on turf and the previous game was in NE. Obviously, a first-choice RBNY team would’ve destroyed Cosmos just like they did last year.

            • The Realist

              Still, you can’t fault the Cosmos for who the Red Bulls put on the field. That’s the only team they can beat; the one on the field. It’s not their fault the Red Bulls sat players or whatever.

              • slowleftarm

                It’s not the Cosmos fault but still bragging about a win from a year and a half ago against a second-string RBNY side is pretty bush league. The fact is your team got spanked by RBNY this year and plays minor league games with a roster full of MLS rejects in a college lacrosse stadium.

                • OpenCupFan

                  Making excuses about losing to a lower division team is bush league.
                  .
                  Giving the Impact a month off to prepare for a LigaMX team is bush league.
                  – Making excuses after losing that game is bush league.
                  .
                  Stealing money from little kids academies is bush league.
                  .
                  Bundling your games with the USMNT games for a TV deal because you can’t get a TV deal on your own is bush league.
                  .
                  #bushleaguemls

                  • slowleftarm

                    I think they moved one Montreal game for CCL. How did Cosmos do in the CCL? Surely they qualified after winning the US Open Cup right? Oh wait, I forgot they went out both years of their existence to the first MLS team that took the competition seriously.

  • REAL OpenCupFans know nasl teams are bad

    the cosmos won in a shootout, technically a tie, and Villa was not playing for NYCFC among others, that probably would have tipped the scales. But credit is given for advancing, when they win 7 straight against MLS competition they should be given credit for it.

    Just like USL teams should be given credit for being better than nasl teams since they beat them in 7 straight.

    • The realist

      The only then-current NYCFC starter not playing that night waas Villa. Lampard and Pirlo were not yet with the team; though you could argue, if anything, that they have been nothing but a detriment to the team.

      • OpenCupFan

        Don’t try to be rational with these guys, everything is black/white – Cosmos bad – that’s how you can tell they’re just mls bots with faulty programming.

    • OpenCupFan

      Only an mls bot would try to argue Cosmos didn’t beat ManCityJV.
      .
      #greentideworldwide
      .
      Support your local independent soccer clubs!

      • slowleftarm

        They didn’t beat them, the game was a draw.

        • The insider

          Yes, just like Brazil did not beat Italy for the World Cup in ’94.

          Come on, they advanced. Same thing. I work for the Don. Believe me, he took it as a loss.

          NYCFC Is so dysfunctional. It’s a source of amusement to everyone except the Don. He’s pulling out his remaining 12 hairs over it.

          • slowleftarm

            That’s fine, but in the record books it’s a draw, just like the 1994 world cup final.

            • Tom

              And in the record books there was a winner and a loser and the NEW YORK COSMOS was the winner and MLS’s NYCFC the loser.

        • Tom

          O brother, true fanboyism and spin, you should work for Putin.

          Here’s the explanation from FIFA’s Rules of the game :

          In a penalty shoot-out, each team takes turns attempting a specified number of shots from the penalty mark that are only defended by the opposing team’s goalkeeper, with the team scoring the most goals being declared the winner.

          Did you see where it says there’s a “winner”?

          There was a winner and a loser and the winner wasn’t MLS’s NYCFC.
          It was the NASL’s NEW YORK COSMOS!

          You have no credibility @slowleftarm.

  • REAL OpenCupFans know nasl teams are bad

    how about the fact that nasl teams lost 7 straight games to USL teams this year (those are MLS reserve team level). The WINNER of those games were USL teams and the LOSERS were all the nasl teams – the nasl has no credibility, and worse they are run by indicted criminals from traffic sports.

    • Tom

      One days few matches in usoc where usl won is not a valid barometer of quality of play – higher level leagues lose to lower level teams in usoc sometimes. This was just a perfect storm situation for usl and won’t happen again. 3 of those matches could easily have been lost by usl clubs, a last minute fluke goal in Pittsburg, a terrible run of bad luck for the minnesota game where they didn’t play their best players, and the strikers blowing a lead.

      NASL had won more games before this year in usoc vs D3 usl. They will win more next year as well and this fluke vs usl won’t be repeated.
      MLS clubs lose games to lower level teams as well and NASL has some impressive wins over them like the Cosmos wins, Carolina, and Atlanta in previouse years.

      Like MLS, NASL has to take the lower level teams more seriously next year and will.

      As for Traffic, NASL immediatly suspended any business dealings with them and their assets are in the process of being sold and will be in the near future.

      • slowleftarm

        All those wins you mention were against second string MLS sides. We saw NASL’s flagship team go out to the first MLS team to take them seriously the past two years. It’ll be more of the same in future, assuming that team continues to exist and the owner doesn’t just throw his hands up at 4-5k “crowds” at the lacrosse field.

  • cristian

  • comment

  • REAL OpenCupFans know nasl teams are bad

    yes, of course one off cup games can be lost by higher level teams, but 7 straight losses to a supposedly lower league, come on?

    What would people say if MLS lost 7 straight games to nasl teams in the open cup? well that is how bad the nasl teams are, they lost 7 straight to the better USL.

    Criminally indicted traffic sports still owns their nasl franchise and shares in the league, nothing has changed yet.

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