The North American Soccer League (“NASL”) was provisionally approved as the Division II men’s outdoor professional soccer league by the Board of Directors of the United States Soccer Federation (“USSF”) at its meeting in Toronto, Canada on November 21, 2010. The provisional nature of the sanctioning is consistent with the USSF’s bylaws which require approval by the National Council of the USSF. This approval is expected to be forthcoming at the USSF Annual General Meeting in February, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“This is a historic day for soccer in North America as we officially launch a new Division II league that will seek to uphold its namesake,” said Aaron Davidson, Chief Executive Officer of the NASL. “We would like to thank the Board of Directors of the Federation for their ongoing support throughout this process. We look forward to working with Major League Soccer at the first division level and the United Soccer Leagues at the third division level to continue to build on the foundation they have established to grow the beautiful game in North America.”
The NASL will play the 2011 season with eight teams in major markets across the United States Canada and Puerto Rico. A team in San Antonio, Texas will join the league for the 2012 season and a team to be announced will join the league for the 2013 season. Mr. Davidson added, “We are considering the addition of several expansion teams in the coming months. Despite the excitement surrounding this announcement, we intend to carefully consider how, when and where to expand to ensure the stability of the NASL and to put the best possible product on the field for our fans.”
The inaugural NASL season will open on April 9, 2011, highlighted by the rematch of the 2010 finalists between the Puerto Rico Islanders and the Carolina Railhawks in Cary, North Carolina. Other matches include FC Edmonton at Miami FC, NSC Minnesota Stars at Atlanta Silverbacks, and Montreal Impact at FC Tampa Bay. The NASL’s teams will play a 28 game schedule, consisting of 14 home and 14 away games against each opponent.
The NASL’s playoff format will consist of the top six teams, with the first two teams receiving a bye until the semi-final round and the remaining four teams playing in a single-game playoff to advance to the semi-finals. The semi-finals and the finals will each consist of a two-game home and home aggregate goal system.
The NASL will undertake an extensive marketing campaign in the months leading up to its inaugural weekend.