This week’s gonna be a little bit different, because aside from SUPER AMERICAN LOWER LEAGUE MELTDOWN-A-PALOOZA, not a lot has happened in local soccer. Well, a little has happened: UofL lost a hard-fought College Cup quarterfinal over the weekend to Stanford, and Toronto FC mounted an absolutely bonkers comeback to make the MLS Cup finals. If you’re bored and hate defense, try to find a replay of that game because it was entertaining as hell.
Now, to the aforementioned SUPER AMERICAN LOWER LEAGUE MELTDOWN-A-PALOOZA. As we know, the North American Soccer League is in some trouble. Almost as soon as their fall season ended, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottowa Fury announced they would not participate in that league in 2017, but would instead join USL. The timeline has since unraveled thusly:
- On November 17, Tampa Bay owner Bill Edwards filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers for their failure to make payments on a loan he made them to keep the team afloat for the second half of the 2017 season.
- Last Monday, just ahead of NASL’s winter Board of Governors meetings in Atlanta, a report from Dave Martinez at New York soccer blog Empire of Soccer said that the 2017 NASL champion New York Cosmos had furloughed most of their front office staff and hadn’t timely made payments to their players.
- On Tuesday morning last week, a guy on Twitter (Pedro Heizer) with a source alleged to have knowledge of NASL’s BoG meeting discussions, said that the Cosmos had ceased all operations, and that the NASL might totally shut down operations, with the remaining teams to try an join USL for 2017.
- The Cosmos denied to Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus that they were shutting down operations, but…
- The above Cosmos news has since been confirmed by Duane Rollins, whom I consider to be a very credible source. Not saying Pedro Heizer isn’t, I just have never heard of him before last Tuesday.
- New SoccerTwitter superstar Nipun Chopra jumped in and said a lot of things about the winter meetings, some of which was accurate and some of which was not. I’m not gonna link to each individual tweet because that would take forever, but visit his timeline sometime because it’s at least interesting.
- Moving on from the Cosmos, later on in the day on Tuesday, it was reported that Sunil Gulati had been at the NASL BoG meetings, along with executives from USL. Gulati confirmed as much the following day, and it was later reported that USL CEO Alec Papadakis and USL president Jake Edwards were at the meetings.
- Rayo OKC unsurprisingly released all of its players from their contracts and were not at the BoG meetings. Hilarious how that’s a footnote to all this.
- We may never know what was actually discussed during the meetings last week, but rumors were flying about USL essentially taking applications for franchises from NASL clubs like Jacksonville and Charlotte, NASL taking a single season hiatus, four new clubs looking to join NASL, a Mexican billionaire bailing out the Cosmos, NASL wanting to fill in its 2017 with interleague games with USL, and lots more.
- In addition to rumored clubs from Detroit, San Diego, and Los Angeles, there might be a group in Atlanta trying to gain entrance to NASL, which sounds like a very dumb idea given that starting clubs in cities with other teams that already exist is a big part of why NASL is on the verge of collapse in the first place.
What’s really bad about all of this is that NASL hasn’t issued any kind of press statement about any of the above since the Board of Governors meeting concluded last week. NPSL and USL are having their own board of governors meetings this week, and US Soccer is schedule to issue a press release on Friday. We expect that press release to confirm USL’s ascension to the inherently meaningless status of Division 2 in the USSF “pyramid,” but it could have a lot more news about NASL and whether it will even be a sanctioned league in 2017. Remember, in addition to losing flagship club New York Cosmos and whatever the opposite of a flagship in Rayo OKC, the Rowdies and Fury have left, the Strikers probably won’t be able to field a team in 2017, and Minnesota United are going to MLS.
This, for me, is almost as fun as real soccer. So soap opera-y! Soapy operatic! But suffice it to say, things are in quite a state of upheaval in lower division soccer in the US. Four Four Two has a nice, better written summation of what’s happening here; I recommend you read it.
Oh, and aside from signing Cuatro for 2017, nothings happening with Louisville City that I know about. COME ON, CITY!