NASL & USL Granted EQUAL Division 2 Status For Upcoming Year
The future of American soccer remains a question as the U.S. Soccer Federation sanctioned the NASL and USL with Division II professional status on Friday. The announcement comes as both leagues will use the next year to finalize provisions in order to maintain D2 status.
Soccer News: U.S. Soccer informed the North American Soccer League (NASL) and United Soccer League (USL) on Friday that each have been provisionally sanctioned as Division II professional leagues, beginning with the 2017 season.
“The USL is honored to receive provisional U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 status, which provides further validation about our League’s financial sustainability, national footprint, ownership quality, stadium infrastructure and player development,” said Alec Papadakis, the USL Chief Executive Officer. “Our teams have invested more than $100 million into stadium development in the last year to enhance the experience for the 1.5 million passionate fans that attended games in 2016, the 1,000-plus players and nearly 100 coaches that have positioned our League as a highly sophisticated competition model that cultivates strong regional rivalries.”
“The NASL Board of Governors and I support U.S. Soccer’s decision to grant the league provisional Division II status,” said North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik. “We’re excited about beginning play in April, and we look forward to the continued growth of our league and soccer in the U.S.”
“Indy Eleven appreciates the diligent work performed by the U.S. Soccer Federation in recent months and agrees with their acknowledgement that the North American Soccer League should retain its Division II designation,” said Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir.
The decision comes as both leagues currently plan for the future with obstacles still to be hurdled over the next year.
The NASL has seen drawbacks for remaining a second tier league in American soccer after recent loss of clubs leaves the league at 10 teams for the 2017 season. The future of New York Cosmos also remained in question prior to U.S. Soccer’s decision. Since the announcement, New York City communications entrepreneur Rocco Commisso said his purchase of the Cosmos was conditional on D2 status.
Meanwhile, the USL had teams that were not playing on regulation fields, including not meeting other league criteria standards.
USL plans to field 30 teams during the 2017 season. League president Jake Edwards explains that the clubs falling short of the D2 standards submitted plans to address the criteria, which were part of USL’s application to U.S. Soccer.
Both leagues now have 12 months to organize themselves and prepare to secure a spot at the second tier of U.S. Soccer.
The working group Gulati referenced it will set out the benchmarks each club must meet in order to maintain D2 status in 2018. U.S. Soccer commented that “additional criteria” will be added to the existing standards.
“After an exhaustive process working with both leagues, in the best interest of the sport the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors has decided to grant provisional Division 2 status to the USL,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “U.S. Soccer will create an internal working group that will work with the league to set a pathway to meet the full requirements for Division 2 and allow for the larger goal of creating a sustainable future. We look forward to another productive year for professional soccer in this country.”
Photo Credit: FC Edmonton