Further USL/TOA Thoughts

Since the announcement from the USSF on Wednesday, I have spoken to many concerned parties both inside and outside of the game and most (but importantly not all) reject the conspiracy theories related to the CBA floated in the wake of the decision. However, the role of the USSF being a late arbiter is a common theme. A feeling has developed both among USL and TOA insiders that the USSF was not properly attuned to the situation in the early stages of the crisis, following Nike’s sale of USL to NuRock.

A feeling has risen to the surface that the Federation provided a lack of leadership initially, and a lack of clarity about what was required or expected of applicants to attain sanctioned league status. While most conspiracy theories are dismissed, political considerations are thought to have some bearing on a decision that didn’t square with the requirements that needed to met to achieve sanctioning. I am told these considerations may not involve a protection of MLS, as I had speculated on Wednesday. (however, a feeling among some I speak to is that protection of MLS and antipathy/hostility towards USL is a key factor in all of the Federations’ dealings on these sorts of matters)

For their part, the USSF has spoken both to our partner site Inside Minnesota Soccer and Soccer By Ives about the situation.  I personally have some sympathy for the Federation, because the timing of this situation could not be worse and the USSF’s focus on the national team and World Cup bid has now been hijacked by this situation as well as the MLS CBA negotiations. Nonetheless, the Federation does need to provide some real leadership.

I am told the USSF is far from monolithic in its thought process on this subject, and my thinking is that the conspiracy theories that were floated on this website and elsewhere on the web have some grounding in reality for certain elements of the USSF. At the same time, other factions within the Federation want to do what is best for the sport in this country, so the internal politics and strife within the organization is also a key factor to monitor.

USL, for their part have dropped the lawsuit filed in Florida courts against three clubs for breach of contract. But it is believed by some, that the unprecedented step of removing second division sanctioning from the league after over twenty years (including the forerunner APSL) sets the stage for the ultimate approval of the NASL. Compromise proposals that have been floated by some at the USSF appear to be the starting point for negotiations between the USL and TOA. Some sort of unified structure that very well could play under either the NASL banner in 2010 or a unified banner in 2010 before NASL completely splits off is also possible.

The NASL has scheduled its inaugural Annual General Meeting for next week in Fort Lauderdale. Ironically, the event will overlap with the MLS Combine which also takes place in the same city, at the same time. Some more clarity to the situation should be provided before then.

For more analysis on this situation, visit Set Piece Analysts.