The ongoing issues between the NASL and the USL required that US Soccer step in and resolve enough issues to get both sides to play as "conferences" of a US Soccer run 2nd divsion for the 2010 season.
The NASL has 9 teams (Carolina RailHawks, Crystal Palace Baltimore, Miami FC, NSC Minnesota Stars, Montreal Impact, Rochester Rhinos, AC St. Louis, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.) and the USL has 3 teams (Austin Aztexs, Portland Timbers, and Puerto Rico Islanders).
Each team will play a 30 match schedule with 15 at home and 15 away, to see a complete schedule click here. Since the two groups are unbalanced they will be broken into 6 team conferences. The NASL Conference will feature:
- Carolina RailHawks
- Crystal Palace Baltimore
- Miami FC
- Montreal Impact
- AC St. Louis
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC
After the jump find out what teams will be in the USL conference
While the USL conference will include:
- Austin Aztexs
- NSC Minnesota Stars
- Portland Timbers
- Puerto Rico Islanders
- Rochester Rhinos
- Tampa Bay Rowdies
At the end of their regular seasons 8 teams will advance to the 2nd division playoffs.
It is clear that the dissent that lead to the formation of the NASL and so many teams leaving the USL in protest of the sale of the league by Nike to NuRock Soccer Holdings (Rob Hoskins and Alec Papadakis). While many have remained silent about the sale of the league and what really led to the 9 teams breaking away to form their own league, rumors remain that Nike turned down a larger bid by MLS to purchase the league and bring it in as the second division of Major League Soccer. Such a move would likely have moved the league solidly into the Adidas camp for merchandise, as MLS is in the midst of a 10 year deal with the jersey and merchandise provider.
With neither side willing to compromise it was up to US Soccer to step in and take charge of the 2nd division of professional soccer in the US, while the teams will control their day to day operations it is clear that nobody is really happy with the situation. Only time will tell what will happen but with Portland and Vancouver set to join MLS in 2011 it will be interesting to see what the long term future of the second division will hold. I believe that a viable plan has to be worked out and if at all possible a relationship with the first division (MLS) has to be part of the future if both sides want to be as successful as possible.
It would be nice to see the USL and MLS work out the details and build a solid relationship that would allow both sides to grow and provide more playing opportunities for players.
OFF MY SOAPBOX