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Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis

January 6, 2017
U.S. Soccer makes a Solomonesque decision on NASL, USL -- at least for now

By Michael Lewis Editor

Back in biblical times, when two women claimed to be the mother of a child, King Solomon threatened to cut the baby in half to discover who the actual mom was.

When push came to shove about whether to grant Division II status to the North American Soccer League or United Soccer League, the U.S. Soccer board of directors did not exactly try to split a baby into two, but it did make the right decision.

A Solomonesque decision, you might say.

No permanent decision was made as both leagues were given provisional D-2 status as both circuits have been given the rest of the year to get their act together.

Fair enough.

With the USL and NASL needing to finalize their respective leagues and schedules, some sort of a decision needed to be made with this particular "match" into its third extratime. In other words, there was not enough time to reach a compromise, solve a myriad of problems and iron out any differences between the leagues.

When the U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said he had an “exhaustive process working with both leagues,” it wasn't hyperbole. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, for example, flew down to Tampa, Fla., according to a reliable source and tried to convince the USL to play an interlocking scheduled with the NASL for the 2017 season. But it was rejected.

Both leagues were far from perfect in meeting D-2 standards.

Assuming the Cosmos go forward with media magnate Rocco B. Commisso as the new majority owner, the NASL will have only eight teams going forward this season. That's a drop off of four teams from this past season. D-2 standards claim leagues need a minimum of 12 teams. Source claim the NASL can have as many as 18 or even 20 teams for the 2018.

We'll see.

The USL, on the other hand, has several teams that don't have at least a 5,000-seat stadium, another minimum standard. And remember, the USL is a conglomeration of independently owned clubs and teams operated by their Major League Soccer parents. There aren't many MLS reserve teams that are selling out their place like FC Cincinnati is.

Remember, the key word in the board's statement about the status of both leagues was provisional. In other words, it is temporary.

If either or both leagues don't get their act together in 11 months, the U.S. board that made this Solomonesque decision most likely will wield the axe and cut their lifeline to D-2 status.
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