History / NASL / US Soccer History / USL

That USL/TOA/NASL thing, part II

On Tuesday I posted a timeline describing the development of the USL  since its origins as an indoor soccer league in 1986, through its absorption of other professional leagues in the 199os and its eventual (incidental?) purchase by Nike in 2008. Creating the time-line was made easier thanks to the hard work already done by Inside Minnesota Soccer and The Kartik Report. The time-line concluded with the sale of the league to NuRock Soccer Holdings at the end of August, 2009. I continue with developments in October, 2009 when things become even more interesting.

  • October 3: Inside Minnesota Soccer (IMNS) reports that five USL-1 teams – Minnesota Thunder, Carolina RailHawks, Miami FC Blues, Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact – have not paid the required yearly USL franchise fee. The USL reacts by voiding player contracts.
  • October 5: Brian Wellman, president of the Carolina RailHawks, describes the recent actions of the USL as “unfortunate and unnecessary” . Wellman is elsewhere quoted as saying that such a move “only hurts the players, confuses the fans, alerts the media and worries the sponsors.”
  • October 6: The  United States Soccer Federation (USSF) becomes involved.
  • October 7: The Kartik Report says that “despite having the USSF, TOA, MLS and USL all meeting together, a solution is not at hand.”
  • October 17: The Montreal Impact defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps 6-3 on aggregate to claim the USL-1 championship.
  • October 28: IMNS quotes USL league owner Alek Papadakis from Canadian press reports as saying “negotiations are finished” with the TOA and that the USL will continue preparations for the 2010 season “with the teams which wished to remain with us.” CBCSports.ca reports that the TOA will form a new league.
  • November 10: The owners of the Atlanta, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Montreal, St. Louis and Vancouver teams formally announce their intention to start a new league that will have second division status in the US soccer pyramid.
  • November 20: Two more teams, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Crystal Palace Baltimore, join the breakaway league.
  • November 23: The breakaway league officially announces that it will be called the North American Soccer League (NASL).
  • November 30: Rochester Rhinos join the NASL.
  • December 7: USSF makes its first official press statement regarding the two leagues confirming that the USSF met with representatives of both the USL and the NASL on December 6. U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, CEO/Secretary General Dan Flynn and Professional Council Chairman (and MLS Commissioner) Don Garber are present at the meeting.
  • December 9: The USL files a lawsuit against the Rochester Rhinos, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Crystal Palace FC USA for breach of contract. The lawsuit alleges that the three teams had committed to play the 2010 season in the USL before joining the NASL.
  • December 9: MLS commissioner Don Garber travels to Montreal to talk with Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo about bringing the team into the MLS. On March 19, 2009, the MLS announced that the Vancouver Whitecaps would begin playing in the league in 2011.
  • December 10: The Kartik Report says that the NASL has initiated efforts to secure a TV deal for the league.

That’s where we are at the moment. In Part III I’ll discuss what all of this might mean and why you should care.

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  1. Wow. This is all kind of scary from the point of view of an original hometown Rochester Rhinos fan. I am in favor of any solution that allows the Rhinos to continue playing in the most competitive league possible, and which brings closer a day that allows the Rhinos to join MLS. I had no idea how convoluted things had become at USL-1 level.

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