NASL's USSF Division 2 Sanctioning May Be In Trouble, Report Says

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86 Forever: Canadian Teams Caught In USSF's Crossfire

Lower division soccer in the United States has never been particularly stable. Sure, there have been teams that could count on a certain number of fans to show up to their games every year, but those fans were doing so often not sure what league their team would be playing in.

Up until this year, the Vancouver Whitecaps were one of those teams. So, it should come as no surprise that 86 Forever's Benjamin Massey has some strong opinions regarding the USSF's decision not to sanction the fledgling NASL as a Division 2 league.

I'm not going to say "this isn't a surprise" because of course it is. At the same time, it always seemed certain that the USSF would find some way to screw up their second division. The past two years have seen the Federation sit with thumbs up their butts as the United Soccer Leagues experienced a still-unhealed schism with their most successful franchises, cobbled together a second-rate "USSF Pro Second Division" which ultimately satisfied nobody for the 2010 season, and after somehow fluking their way into a relatively stable second-division NASL and third-division USL PRO, pulling the plug all together. When they sanctioned the NASL, it was a pleasant relief. The fact that they have returned to their usual shortsightedness, gleefully firing their cannon into the hull of their own boat, isn't all that shocking.

Among the teams caught up in this mess, and of particular interest to Massey, are the Montreal Impact and FC Edmonton. As such, Massey says this is just the latest reason for Canada to sanction its own league.

However this turns out, it's one more indication why Canada needs to control its own destiny on the soccer stage. I'm not going to pretend the Canadian Soccer Association runs a perfect ship and that a Canadian league would never run into any roadblocks. But at least when a Canadian league encounters problems, they'd be our problems and it would be in all our best interests to solve them. We wouldn't sit back and cross our fingers that the Americans could solve them for us.

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NASL Pledges To Continue To Seek Division 2 Sanctioning

While acknowledging that USSF has, indeed, pulled its provisional Division 2 sanctioning, the NASL has promised to continue to work with the governing body to improve its standing in time to start their season on time. The league will have an opportunity to address concerns prior to the USSF Annual General Meeting Feb. 11-12.

"We have invested a lot of time, energy and resources over the past four years to establish a proper team-owned and governed professional second division soccer league and separate ourselves from the instability and annual team turnover of USL, the former second division," NASL CEO Aaron Davidson said in a release. "The USSF and the soccer community have realized that it’s time once and for all to launch a new second division with higher standards which finally ensure the stability, growth and prosperity of second division soccer in North America. We are prepared to respond to the USSF’s concerns and look forward to delivering on our commitments to our teams and fans to re-launch second division as the NASL in 2011."

It's still unclear what options exist for NASL teams if the league is not sanctioned. One possibility would seem to be playing as a Division 3 league, but there's no guarantee USSF would sanction two such leagues, as they've already approved USL-PRO. Failing to get sanctioning would leave the eight teams planned for 2011 in a tough situation, to say the least. If the league were to move ahead without sanctioning, players as well as management could conceivably face punishment from FIFA, including being barred from playing on national teams and having their contracts voided. It's also not clear how many ownership groups would even be willing to go forward as anything less than Division 2.

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NASL's USSF Division 2 Sanctioning May Be In Trouble, Report Says

The NASL might be in trouble before it even plays a match. According to a report at Inside Minnesota Soccer, the fledgling league's Division 2 sanctioning from the USSF could be in jeopardy.

According to sources, the federation held a board meeting by phone on Thursday where it was decided that the NASL has at this time not met enough of the new D2 standards that were set in August of 2010 for sanctioning of the league. What exactly this means is still unclear and leaves more questions than answers.

The story goes on to say that it's not know whether NASL might be allowed a chance to address USSF's concerns. The reborn league was given provisional sanctioning in November, but there have been some significant changes since then. On the positive side, the San Antonio franchise has officially announced its intentions to begin play in 2012. Of more concern is the fact that Traffic Sports USA has taken an increased ownership in the Carolina Railhawks, who were reportedly nearly dissolved. Traffic already owns Miami FC and owns part of the Atlanta Silverbacks.

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