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Major League Soccer


January 6, 2017
U.S. Soccer expected to make a decision on Division 2 sanctioning for NASL, USL, determining Cosmos' fate

Sunil Gulati tried to broker a deal between the NASL and USL, but it was rejected by the latter, according to a source.
Sunil Gulati tried to broker a deal between the NASL and USL, but it was rejected by the latter, according to a source.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis Editor

Friday is expected to be D-Day as the U.S. Soccer board of directors are scheduled to vote on the sanctioning of a Division 2 soccer legaue in the United States.

The North American Soccer League and United Soccer League are hoping to hear some good news after this afternoon's conference call among the 14 voting members of the board.

The decision has been put off since Dec. 6, when the board delayed its decision at least seven to 10 days before pushing it back after the holidays.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati Thursday tried to broker a deal between the two leagues in Tampa, Fla.,which would have given both leagues Division 2 status, but it was rejected by the USL, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting that requested anyonmity.

Gulati's plan would have the teams in each league play against each each other. No other details of the plan were available.

So now, the decision is up to the board of directors.

"Today is probably one of the most important days in American soccer," said one soccer official said.

NASL owners flew to New York earlier in the week to talk to Gulati and presented their side of the issue.

The NASL, which says it will house eight teams in 2017, has asked for a one year waiver from the D2 minimum of 12 teams. The league said it plans to have from 18-20 teams in 2018.

If the board sanctions the NASL as D-2, then media magnate Rocco B. Commisso, a major benefactor of the Columbia University men's soccer program, would become the majority owner of the Cosmos.

The Cosmos, owned by Sela Sports and club chairman Seamus O'Brien, was forced to cease operations last month in the wake of millions of dollars of debt. Players and front office still have yet to be paid. Four former Cosmos have signed with other teams.

Both leagues want a resolution as soon as possible.

A decision must be made soon because both leagues want to prepare and announce their schedules for the upcoming season.

"I'm flummoxed why this vote is taking so long," OKC Energy co-owner Bob Funk Jr. told The Oklahoman newspaper. "The strength of independent USL clubs meeting or exceeding all Division 2 requirements, it is the strongest application U.S. Soccer has received. More than 2.5 times the number of teams meet or exceed the standards for Division 2."

According to the U.S. Soccer website, the board of directors has 14 voting members:

* President -- Gulati

* Executive vice president -- Carlos Cordeiro

* Athlete representatives -- Jeff Agoos, Chris Ahrens, Cindy Cone

* Pro Council representatives -- Don Garber, Alec Papadakis

* Adult Council representatives -- Arthur Mattson, John Motta

* Youth Council representatives -- Jesse Harrell, Tim Turney

* At Large representative -- John Collins

* Independent directors -- Fabian Nez, Donna E. Shalala

The organization also has two non-voting members on the board:

* Immediate past president -- Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia

* CEO/secretary general -- Dan Flynn

The board usually has 15 voting members, but there is a vacant independent director position, a U.S. Soccer spokesman said. The position is up for election at the organization's Annual General Meeting this year.
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