Source: NASL Down to Four Teams, Future Bleak

by on 5 December 2016

FiftyFive.One has learned that the Cosmos have ceased operations and the NASL is now down to only four teams. A source with information of the situation said it “appears that the NASL is officially dead.” It’s expected that those four teams will either go dark or make the move (subject to full vetting by USL and its owners) by the end of the week, if not the end of the USSF Board meeting vote on Tuesday.

The four teams are believed to be Rayo OKC, Fort Lauderdale, New York, and FC Edmonton. This assortment would have little to gain from negotiating with the USL. It’s expected that FC Edmonton will join the prospective Canadian Premier League in 2018, which the other three teams have major questions about their immediate futures.

With the USSF board meeting on Tuesday and the USL AGM meeting later this week, things are quickly coming to a head and we should know within a few days how the 2017 scenario will shake out. The source also said there is “behind the scenes pressure being applied by USSF to maintain one D2 league, be it NASL or USL so that the official story is D2 never went dark.”

How We Got Here

Over the weekend, Brian Straus of Sports Illustrated published a detailed piece on what is happening behind the scenes and the scenarios that could play out this week with the future of the NASL and USL in lower division soccer.

Michael Lewis of Big Apple Soccer reported on Sunday that the Cosmos had “ceased operations.” He also said a group had been in negotiations with a New York group to purchase the team. There seems to be some speculation that those interested in the Cosmos may want it for the name only.

Our own Jeff Rueter reported on Twitter that the Cosmos have lost over $30 million since they came into the league in the fall season of 2012.

This move comes at a time where several other clubs are looking to the future. WRAL Sports Fan’s Neil Morris reported that Carolina RailHawks’ owner Steve Malik was set for some major news on Tuesday. The club will be changing their name to North Carolina FC. This rebranding includes a new crest and setting their sights on MLS.

A Growing USL

The source also said that USL is riding a fine balance of growing the league with established teams that come from the NASL and keeping harmony with the current league teams that have established a good chemistry. They risk bringing in certain NASL owners that may flock to USL out of survival, not because they wanted to join the league.

If the USSF gives USL the sanctioning to run the second division in the US, it will be a busy week for the United Soccer League, who normally have tentative schedules ready for their clubs at their AGM. Until decisions are made, scheduling is impossible for their new second division and questions still remain as to who will make up their third division teams. USL has stated in the past that some of the attractive features that draw in new investors to their league is the number of teams (now 31) and regionalized play to keep expenses down. But clearly, as the organization moves back to claim the second division, not all teams will be able or want to play in its second tier.

Jeff Rueter contributed to this report.

Edit: Inclusion of four teams not negotiating with usl at 11:43 central.

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  • Alex Schieferdecker

    Pie Jesu Domine, Dona eis requiem.

    • Offensive Loons Fan

      Lacrimosa dies illa
      Qua resurget ex favilla
      Judicandus homo reus

  • Dave DuJour

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Do we even need a D3? What benefit would it provide to USSF? How would USL sanctioned at D2 (again) operate differently than while it was D3? Or would the USL run two leagues (again), one for D2 and one for D3? With 30+ teams in the entire USL that’s more than enough to split into two leagues.
    And would those teams be more stable from year-to-year than they were a decade ago? With MLS investment in the reserve teams that seems likely for most.
    And will the remaining TOA teams want more control over the league (again) and force Papadakalis out?

    Brian, I miss IMS and all the reporting you did on the TOA/USL brouhaha back in the day.

    • sportzfrk

      There are no TOA owners left besides Tom Fath in Edmonton, and does he really even count?

      • Brian Quarstad

        And even Fath wasn’t a member of the TOA but did get involved in the NASL investing (we think) in part of the B stock of the league and had a team in it’s first official year.

    • Brian Quarstad

      Thanks Dave for the kind words. More comments on this in the main comment field.

  • Brian Quarstad

    There are no remaining members of the TOA. I was just discussing this with a couple of people recently and said it’s pretty interesting to make a list and see that all the originals are gone five years after the league was started.

  • Brian Quarstad

    Yes, we definitely need a D3 and some of the teams that are currently in USL’s D3 league will not be able to make the jump (D2 requirements) or will not want to make the jump to D2.

    • BJ

      Basically the whole reason it was D3 in the first place.

      • Brian Quarstad

        When they had like five teams. They have 31 now. That was six years ago.

    • Rob Hoffmann

      Here’s where the problem will be – as soon as you split a merged USL into D2 and D3, travel becomes a problem for the D3 teams whose closer rivals will move up to D2. But if you don’t split, the better-financed should-be-D2’s will make a mockery of competitive balance and the should-be-D3’s will look weak (and possibly lose fans).

      This isn’t an endpoint, whatever happens, but another stop on the way to wherever we’re going… 🙂

  • Kevin Joseph

    No mention of Indy Eleven?

    • Dialogos68

      Exactly!!!!! Sad since the 11 have such a great fan base….. The 11 deserve consideration for the MLS, but the Indy politicians could care less

    • Brian Quarstad

      See above.

  • Brian Quarstad

    Those are the teams that have not spoken to USL or are in consideration for a move to USL. For instance, Puerto Rico may have spoken the USL, but it’s not guaranteed that the USL will accept them with the increased travel. Ownership is also important for the USL.

    • Benjamin MacKenzie

      Got it! Rough to see 5 teams up in the air, 3 that look like a total tire fire, and 1 that’s twiddling thumbs until it can start an Alberta Derby with Calgary…oooh…the Rocky Mountain kid in me wants to see that game….anyone want to help me start a club in Calgary?

  • Rey Silva

    What time does USL give the nasl teams to move and when will the d2 status be given.

  • Dialogos68

    This is a poorly written article as the Indy 11 and several teams are not even addressed….

    • Brian Quarstad

      Indy was originally supporting the NASL, but have now been in talks with the USL. They were not listed as the teams with the NASL because they four were the only ones left not talking to USL. That is not to say that USL will take each and every team in. That is up to USL and their vetting process.

  • Melissa Danner

    And what about SF Deltas?

    • Brian Quarstad

      Deltas are in discussions with the USL.

  • Brad Wood

    i believe all remaining nasl teams would do well to join usl but that would be one giant league