An offseason of controversy about the second division in American soccer brought lower league soccer here more attention than it had ever had before, until the governing US Soccer Federation (USSF) finally stepped-in and resolved the dispute between the NASL and the USL by agreeing to run the league for this year.
Things have been a lot quieter since, with the division returning to the shadows ahead of kick-off this weekend. The NASL and the USL continue their respective pushes for attention, and it should not be forgotten that the USSF only found a temporary resolution for the 2010 season to allow play to go ahead this year. Behind the scenes, one hopes they are beavering away with both parties to figure out how the structure will work in 2011, but even distant rumblings of future plans aren’t yet surfacing. They do, at least, have a nice logo for the league.
But it seems the two parties, USL and NASL, are still not necessarily cooperating all that well. There appears to be no national television deal, with nothing worked out to continue the previous coverage of the USL on Fox Soccer Channel. Creatively, the USSF has secured a company called Ooyala (really?) to stream every game for free on each club’s website, so the governing body should be credited for that.
Overall, it’s a critical year in lower league soccer not just because of the controversy between the competing entities, but with two of the stronger Division II teams headed to MLS in 2011 (Portland and Vancouver), the role and purpose of a division two is still unclear. The NASL certainly has the most elite teams and the most ambition, but can it establish itself enough for USSF to jilt the USL and award it the rights to run the Division II league in 2011? What should the purpose of a second division actually be — developing players, or developing clubs with fanbases ready to move up to MLS?
- It’s amazing how often articles about the crisis in Scottish football and proposals to restructure it appear, and here’s another good one from Ewan Murray.
- Turkey ramps up its bid for the 2016 Euros.
- Blog of the week: Must Read Soccer…is a must read. Seriously.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.