Source: NASL pushing for 8-10 team competition in 2017

IMAGE, ANTHONY MERCED FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

According to a well-placed source, the North American Soccer League may be making a final push for survival — one that could keep them in play through 2017 and beyond.

The league is pushing for an 8-10 team competition for 2017. That plan includes further expansion that would shatter previous high-water marks for the competition with 12-14 teams by 2018.

The news will be surprising to anyone following the NASL’s troubles. With the Ottawa Fury, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Minnesota United leaving the league, the NASL was left with 10 teams. However, Rayo OKC are reportedly done with the league after just one season and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers remain an uncertain situation as the team still does not have an owner.

Of the eight remaining teams, EoS has learned Jacksonville is set to leave the league and the New York Cosmos have already begun plans for an extended hiatus, making their chances of participation tenuous at best.

That would leave six teams: North Carolina, Indy Eleven, FC Edmonton, Miami FC, Puerto Rico FC and the expansion San Fransisco Deltas. Of the six, NCFC have already publicly declared their intentions to join MLS.

Soccer executive Peter Wilt, who is heading up the Chicago expansion, has reportedly been instrumental in attracting several new ownership prospects. He and his group, Club 9 Sports, have taken a leadership role, hoping to preserve the competition.They presented four potential groups at the league’s Board of Governors meeting earlier this month. It is unclear which markets are involved, outside of his Chicago group.

U.S. Soccer, meanwhile, has not clarified their decisions on divisional status for either the USL or NASL as of this report.