We meant to get to this story a while ago but it slipped through the cracks. Starting in August—when Nike sold its stake in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) to something called NuRock Soccer Holdings—and continuing up until last week, there was a simmering, Hatfield-and-McCoys feud building between two rival Division 2 U.S. soccer entities.
After Nike got out, a number of teams split from the USL (perhaps the name NuRock scared them off), and formed their own league. In late November, they announced the official name of that new circuit: the North American Soccer League (NASL). (Above is their logo, which is not just modeled on the vintage NASL logo, it is the old NASL logo.)
But the new NASL and the USL holdovers immediately entered into a dispute over the legal rights of the breakaway teams, a conflict that led U.S. Soccer to initially reject the D-2 applications of both circuits.
Cut to last week, when the USSF and Sunil Gulati brokered an agreement and agreed to oversee a joint, two-conference league for the 2010 season, with the catchy name of USSF Division 2.
Got all that?
The USSF will continue to work with the NASL and the USL to create a more lasting solution for Division 2 soccer in this country, complete with new standards for second-level pro soccer in the U.S. that will, hopefully, ensure long-term stability and viability, and avoid similar disputes down the road.
Here is the conference breakdown for 2010:
USL Conference: Austin Aztex, NSC Minnesota, Portland Timbers*, Puerto Rico Islanders, Rochester Rhinos, Tampa Bay Rowdies (shouldn’t they be in the NASL Conference?)
NASL Conference: A.C. St. Louis, Carolina Railhawks, Crystal Palace Baltimore, Miami FC, Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps*
*In 2011, Portland and Vancouver will become MLS expansion franchises.
Props to reader Dave L for the tip on the NASL logo.