In a strange turn of events, U.S. Soccer will now have two Division II status leagues entering the 2017 season.
U.S. Soccer announced on Friday night that both NASL and USL will hold provisional D II statuses for the upcoming 2017 season. Additionally, the U.S. Soccer board will work with both leagues in order to meet the standards set forth by U.S. Soccer moving forward.
“After an exhaustive process working with both leagues, in the best interest of the sport the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors has decided to grant provisional Division II status to the NASL and USL,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “U.S. Soccer will create an internal working group that will work with each league to set a pathway to meet the full requirements for Division II and allow for the larger goal of creating a sustainable future. We look forward to another productive year for professional soccer in this country.”
While USL has made strides over recent years, expanding to 30 teams as the league stands at this moment, NASL’s future is still very much up in the air.
NASL will likely go ahead with an eight-team league to start to the new Spring season.
“The NASL Board of Governors and I support the USSF’s decision to grant the league provisional Division 2 status,” said North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik. “We’re excited about the eight teams beginning play in April, and we look forward to the continued growth of our league and soccer in the U.S.”
Minnesota United is currently preparing for its inaugural season in MLS, while the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury each joined USL ahead of the 2017 campaign.
Meanwhile, the status of the New York Cosmos —NASL’s most successful team — is very much uncertain as the club seeks new ownership in order to revive the team’s chances of playing in 2017.
Entering last season, NASL was the lone D II status league in the U.S. soccer hierarchy, while USL was considered D III. MLS currently serves as the top of the pyramid as U.S. Soccer’s first division.Follow @MattReedFutbol