U.S. Soccer's decision to reject both the NASL and USL's applications to operate second division leagues this year came as a shocking development in the on-going battle between the two leagues, leading to some interesting but extremely far-fetched conspiracy theories about the decision. According to U.S. Soccer, the decision was made in order to help the situation, not to worsen it.
"U.S. Soccer's objective is to help the USL and NASL come to a resolution for the 2010 season and is committed to playing a role in discussions between the organizations," said U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe. "Throughout this entire process we've already had numerous discussions with both organizations, and future meetings have been set in the next few days.
"U.S. Soccer understands the importance of having a Division II league, but the most important aspect is figuring out a solution that can last for the foreseeable future," Buethe added. "That is exactly why the board decided not to sanction either league.
"There are still a number of aspects of each organization's application that are unanswered, and a decision of this magnitude is too important to make without the full assurance that either league is sustainable."
What is our take on the situation? It has been clear for some time now that neither league is in position to launch a viable league yet. The legal battle between the USL and NASL over the three teams that defected from USL to join the NASL threatens to negatively impact both leagues (a matter that is now headed for arbitration) and a resolution needs to be found between the leagues if either league is going to survive, or if the sides are going to have a chance to unite and form one strong league.
Sources tell SBI that U.S. Soccer's one-week deadline for the sides to come up with a solution was set in order to put the pressure squarely on the USL and NASL to come to the table and hammer out a deal or risk not operating in 2010. It's a bit of a gamble on the part of U.S. Soccer, but the federation is looking at the long term, and having the USL and NASL join forces and create a strong league rather than having them fight and form two unstable leagues, is clearly the best way to go. Not having second-division soccer in the United States in 2010 would be awful, but having two leagues launch, clash and fail would be much worse.
As for the conspiracy theories being floated about this decision? I'm not buying any of them, although they do make for great reading.
What do you think of the situation? Hoping the two leagues combine to form a Super League? Worried that there won't be any second division soccer in America in 2010?
Share your thoughts below.