The North American Soccer League's 2018 season isn't happening. On Tuesday, the league announced it would be cancelling the campaign. Here's what to know:
What caused the cancellation?
The announcement, which wasn't much of a surprise, came just days after a federal court rejected an appeal to reinstate its status as a Division 2 league which was vital to the league's stability.
Last year, the U.S. Soccer Federation voted to deny putting the team in Division 2 for not meeting second-tier standards, which include a variety of things such as a minimum number of teams, and it was all downhill from there with teams jumping ship, with USL moving to Division 2 in January.
Here's a part of the league's official release:
On September 1, 2017, the USSF's Board of Directors took a decision to revoke the NASL's Division II status jeopardizing the future of the league and its member clubs. On September 19, NASL filed an antitrust suit in Federal Court in the Eastern District of New York seeking a preliminary injunction to preserve the NASL's Division II status while the Court considers the underlying claims. On November 4, the District Court denied the NASL's motion for a preliminary injunction and on February 23, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision.
What kind of shape was the league in?
Not good. The league finished the 2017 season with just eight teams, but those numbers have been reduced after San Francisco Deltas, the league champs, shut down, as well as Edmonton FC.
In addition to that, North Carolina FC and Indy Eleven joined USL, forcing NASL to look elsewhere for expansion teams.
And it seemed as if NASL had been doomed since 2013, when the USL and MLS teammated up, as USL accepted MLS reserve league teams, serving as kind of a farm system for the top flight.
The USL currently has reserve teams of MLS franchises Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC, Los Angeles Galaxy and Portland Timbers in their league.
Is this a big deal?
Of course it is, and history is a big part of the reason why. The NASL, back in the 70s, was the league in North America and featured some of the world's biggest stars such as Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Bobby Moore, Gordon Banks, George Best, Eusebio and so many more. It went away, for all intents in purposes, in the mid 80s, but the league was revived in 2009 with franchises like the New York Cosmos returning in an attempt to rediscover their glory days -- albeit with much lower expectations and not nearly the same level of talent.
What does this mean for the future and the team's left hanging?
It's not a good sign for the league's future, but it isn't completely folding. We'll have to wait and see what recourse there is to help the league get back on track, while USL preps for the start of its season in March with 33 teams.
The league's future is certainly in serious jeopardy, but still some NASL teams will play, just elsewhere. The Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC and New York Cosmos will play this season in the National Premier Soccer League while remaning a member, for the time being, of NASL.