Wednesday, December 30, 2009
TAMPA, FL — Over the past several months, United Soccer Leagues (USL) ownership and management have been in regular communication with senior leadership at the US Soccer Federation (USSF) regarding the newly-implemented re-sanctioning process for professional league members, including the USL First Division (USL-1). Earlier today, USSF issued a media release indicating that its Board of Directors voted not to sanction a league at this time in the Division II Men’s Professional League category where USL-1 has been the member since 1997.
“As a 24-year USSF member that owns and operates national elite soccer leagues for players of both genders, USL and its member teams remain focused on advancing its quarter-century tradition of supporting the growth of soccer in the United States,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis.
“Our unqualified support of USSF at the professional, youth, and adult amateur levels since 1986 is incontrovertible. Although USL is respectful of the need to ensure that decisions being made are in the best interests of soccer and player development in the United States, it has detailed in its recent USL-1 2010 season re-sanctioning presentation that it is both willing and able to meet all published USSF Division II Men’s Professional League standards, including fielding a minimum of eight teams.”
The primary reason USL has so successfully contributed to the growth of soccer in the United States over the past two decades is the connections between and among teams through its system of leagues or «soccer pyramid» involving some of the nation’s first true vertically-integrated clubs. Hundreds of players have followed the progression through its Super Y-League (SYL), the nation’s first national elite youth soccer league, to compete in the Under-23 based Premier Development League (PDL), and then on to professional soccer in Major League Soccer (MLS), USL-1, and/or USL-2 as well as U.S. National Teams.
In this regard, USL has played an essential role in the development of American professional soccer players. The continuity of USL-1 as the USSF Division II Men’s Professional League is of vital importance for the entire USL system of leagues to continue to provide literally thousands of opportunities for players, coaches, referees, and administrators into the future.
In support of USSF’s efforts to find a resolution for the upcoming season at its Division II Men’s Professional League level, USL very recently agreed to one of the proposals made by USSF requiring USL-1 and the contemplated North American Soccer League (NASL) to come together for 2010. USL remains willing to proceed with this USSF-proposed scenario in order to enable the 2010 season over the course of the next several days.
Meanwhile, USL will continue to move ahead with its preparations for the 2010 USL-1 season in the appropriate membership category.