NASL cancels 2018 season; teams move on

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The North American Soccer League (NASL) announced on Tuesday that it has canceled its 2018 season.

After U.S. Soccer revoked the NASL’s second division status in September 2017, the league filed an antitrust suit in Federal Court which was denied by the Eastern District Court of New York in November and that decision was confirmed last Friday.

The NASL, which was relaunched in 2011, had already canceled its Spring season for 2018 but planned to return to action for the Fall season.

NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal issued the following statement:

“The focus of the antitrust suit to date has been obtaining a preliminary injunction to save the 2018 Season. Unfortunately, with USSF’s decision and the loss of the preliminary injunction, playing the 2018 Season is no longer a possibility. The focus of the antitrust suit now shifts to securing the long-term advancement of soccer in this country, not only for the NASL, but for all soccer fans, clubs, and communities impacted by the USSF’s restrictions on competition.  Also, the NASL is prosecuting a breach of fiduciary duty action against certain USSF Board members for conflicts of interest and derelictions of duty which have harmed the NASL and countless other constituents in U.S. Soccer. The NASL and its clubs will look at all avenues to return to the field for the 2019 Season.”

The NASL also confirmed that three of its six remaining teams, the Jacksonville Armada FC, Miami FC, and New York Cosmos, will play in the National Premier Soccer League (unofficial fourth-tier) from April 15, 2018.

It is not known what lies in store for the future of Puerto Rico FC, San Diego 1904 FC and California United FC, with the latter two clubs set to join in 2018.

Given the expansion of the USL to 33 teams and it being handed second-tier status by U.S. Soccer for the 2018 season, the NASL’s rebirth is in serious jeopardy. USL have aligned themselves closely with Major League Soccer and house several reserve teams from MLS franchises, while also have an affiliate rule where MLS clubs have to send a certain number of players on loan each season to their USL affiliate.

Since the 2017 NASL season ended four of their teams have jumped ship and joined the USL, with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Indy Eleven, North Carolina FC and Ottawa Fury all moving over, plus the San Francisco Deltas and Edmonton FC both folding to leave the NASL with just six teams remaining.