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NASL D2 Sanctioning in Question

The NASL is facing a major setback in their mission to become USSF Sanctioned for 2011.  Word first started to come out early Friday (1/21) when Brian Quarstad, of Inside Minnesota Soccer (IMS), reported that the USSF was concerned with Sanctioning of D2 PRO Soccer for 2011. The NASL shortly after release a statement confirming the report that that USSF had indeed withdrawn their provisional sanctioning of NASL.  In that statement they also emphasized their commitment to securing Division 2 status at the USSF Annual General Meeting held on February 11 – 12, 2011.

Aaron Davidson, CEO of the NASL, commented, “We have invested a lot of time, energy and resources over the past four years to establish a proper team-owned and governed professional second division soccer league and separate ourselves from the instability and annual team turnover of USL, the former second division.  The USSF and the soccer community have realized that it’s time once and for all to launch a new second division with higher standards which finally ensure the stability, growth and prosperity of second division soccer in North America.  We are prepared to respond to the USSF’s concerns and look forward to delivering on our commitments to our teams and fans to re-launch second division as the NASL in 2011.”

IMS later spoke with U.S. Soccer’s Neil Buethe late Friday afternoon.  Buethe said there where issues regarding ownership and organizational details to make sure the league was prepared to start the season, which is less than 3 months away.

“The biggest hurdle was really some of the financial requirements.  An unstable league or team can damage the market place and the sport overall if teams fold or have financial issues.” said Buethe.

The NASL is comprised of 8 teams that will play in 2011 including: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina, FC Edmonton, FC Tampa Bay, Miami FC, Montreal Impact, NSC Minnesota Stars, and the Puerto Rico Islanders .  Aaron Davidson, CEO of the NASL and president of Miami FC has worked with several struggling teams to ensure they have the financial capital necessary to operate this year under the more stringent USSF D2 Standards.  You may remember reading a previous post when Traffic Sports announced they would take part ownership in the Atlanta Silverbacks.  At the end of 2010 the NASL announced that the league would purchase the NSC Minnesota Stars while looking for a new long-term owner.  Reports have also emerged that the previous owners of the Carolina Railhawks have dissolved their organization and either the NASL &/or Traffic Sports could be taking over as early as this week. However, those plans could be placed on hold in light of the recent developments.

The NASL continues to move forward and provide the USSF with what it believes are the necessary requirements.  IMS quoted Davidson as saying,

“We’ve provided the federation with what we believe was the missing information. We feel we live up to the standards of second division as they were set forth in October. The Federation now have over $6 million in letters of credit that are joint and several for a league who runs budgets around $2 million a team. Traffic is involved with three of the teams, the league is involved with Minnesota and Montreal stands on its own. That means there are three teams left this season that don’t have Traffic or Montreal behind them. If all three teams were to default immediately, you would still have enough money amongst the collective group to run all three of those teams for an entire season.”

At the end of the day I personally think NASL will be sanctioned as Division 2 for 2011.  The USSF stepped in for 2010 to make sure things worked out and that the games would be played.  I believe the USSF needed to flex some muscle to show the NASL that they were serious and probably to resolve the finance issue to their liking.

Brian Quarstad at has done a fantastic job of breaking and following this story. You may remember him from the 2010 Best Blog nomination he received from US Soccer.  If you’re looking for more detail then check out his site and follow him on twitter (@MinnesotaSoccer) for the latest on what’s happening.

What do you think will happen with NASL in 2011? Do you think attendance would change significantly for the Silverbacks if they were playing in D3 or unsanctioned?

NASL coming back to Atlanta

The Atlanta Silverbacks announced today their return to Division 2 Soccer. Only instead of returning to the USL, from which they left in 2009, they officially join the NASL.  That’s not the only thing that has changed.  Boris Jerkunica announced a joint venture with Traffic USA to help manage the cost of club ownership.  This partnership enables NASL to meet the required eight teams needed to be sanctioned by USSF.  Traffic USA owns  Miami FC, soon to called The Strikers, of the NASL and several other professional sports teams.

The first game is scheduled to be played at Atlanta Silverbacks Park on April 9, 2011 against NSC Minnesota Stars.  In all the Silverbacks will host 14 regular season home games next year.  Traditionally bring on a new coach and finding players would be a difficult task with only 4 month’s till kickoff.  However, with the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps making the leap to MLS they are leaving several of their players behind.  Additionally, there are at least two teams, AC St. Louis and Crystal Palace Baltimore, that competed in 2010 that will not return in 2011.

“After working five year to create a league that is team-owner controlled and managed we are thrilled that USSF has sanctioned the NASL and we are excited to get back to playing soccer again,” said Boris Jerkunica, Chairman of the Atlanta Silverbacks.

Many questions still remain unanswered but we hope to find out more in the coming weeks and months.  To see the official announcement please click here.

So what are your questions for the Silverbacks? Do you think the fans will come back strong after the hiatus or do you think the departure has created a resentment that will take time to win fans back?

Atlanta Silverbacks to Return?

Back in July I posted that the Silverbacks had no intentions of returning in 2011. This was based off a conversation I had with someone who had first-hand knowledge of the organizations plans…at that time.  It was supported as removed the Silverbacks’ icon and ceased mentioning Atlanta as an expansion city as they previously had done in written communications.  Atlanta was also excluded from the NASL’s original submission for Division 2 status as recently as September 28th, 2010.

However, during the NASL’s Annual General Meeting two additional teams for the 2011 season have been approved – The Atlanta Silverbacks and NSC Minnesota Stars.  Aaron Davidson CEO of the NASL said, “We were encouraged by fans to return second division soccer to Atlanta after a two season hiatus”. Copy of the full release is below.

The NASL now waits to hear from the USSF Board of Directors to see if their submission has been accepted.  The USSF has a meeting scheduled on November 21 in Toronto, Canada in which the decision could be made.  The NASL application also includes San Antonio (2012) and a team to be announced later (2013) in the submission.  This would give the NASL the USSF required 8 teams and account for Montreal’s spot once they join MLS in 2012.  The 8 teams submitted to play in 2011 are: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, FC Tampa Bay, Montreal Impact, Miami FC Blues, NSC Minnesota Stars, and the Puerto Rico Islanders.

Was Atlanta’s CEO Soccer Cabinet somehow involved in an effort to increase Atlanta’s chances of being a World Cup host city?  Do you think MLS’s commitment to New York, not Atlanta, as the 20th team made re-entry more appealing?

Full Press Release Below

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NASL logo shows Atlanta 2011

UPDATE July 2010: see more recent post

Today @NASLofficial went live on Twitter.  Their profile image includes nine team logo’s and a tenth “ATLANTA 2011″ but without the Silverbacks logo. I know many people have wondered if the Silverbacks would comeback but so far things look like they’re still moving forward after the the NASL’s first annual general meeting.  Well maybe I shouldn’t say Silverbacks. Could another re-branding be in-store for Atlanta’s division 2 team?

UPDATE: The NASL site has now updated the words Atlanta with the Silverbacks logo while the “2011″ date still remains.

One interesting thing is that in addition to the 6 teams on the 2010 NASL conference playing in the USSF Division 2 that three of the six USL teams are also included.  Rochester, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay are the three teams that will play in the USL conference this upcoming season. However those three have also been associated with the TOA/NASL prior the the USSF ultimatum a few weeks ago.

The NASL stated their new website would go live Friday, 1/15/10.  As of the time this was posted it still not live.

UPDATE: is now live. At the time of this update it was showing the above image and the words “coming soon”.