Lower division soccer in the U.S. will have its most tumultuous offseason in quite a while as multiple NASL teams will not be back with the league in 2017. Minnesota United is beginning its MLS journey with Atlanta next year. A few clubs are in financial trouble and might not continue unless new investment/ownership allows them to do so. Now, the rumors of multiple clubs jumping to USL are growing stronger and announcements could be made as soon as today.
Can the NASL continue next season? Yes, it appears that there is a core of clubs that will stick with the league. San Francisco Deltas should be a strong new addition for 2017. The efforts to add new clubs will have to intensify to make the league viable in the long term. The Cosmos and Miami FC are fully invested in the NASL model and will look to continue there as long as possible.
What will this mean for the USL? In the short term, it will be strengthened by adding strong, competitive clubs. However, will these clubs fully buy into the league’s mission of being a developmental league for MLS? Orlando City B and New York Red Bulls 2 are a little different than the Cosmos and the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers for Tampa.
Will other clubs follow Tampa (and likely Ottawa)? It’s possible. More defections along with clubs folding could be too much for the NASL. Unless they can accelerate the Chicago ownership group, it does not appear that more expansion clubs are on the horizon for 2017.
Thriving lower division soccer is a necessity for soccer to continue growing in the U.S. MLS can only be in so many markets. The second tier of American cities on down need teams to support to continue the game’s growth. Hopefully, the moves made this offseason strengthen the lower divisions rather than cause them harm.
Rumors about NASL/USL announcements are everywhere:
Tampa Bay Rowdies expected to officially announce transition from NASL to USL tomorrow, according to a source.— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) October 24, 2016
Great read on Bruce Arena from Scott French (FourFourTwo)
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Oh David Moyes (SB Nation)
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Recap of Georgians in MLS and if Atlanta United will sign any of them for next season (AJC)
Middle Georgia State defeats the University of Mobile 2-0 in men’s soccer.