NASL: Back to the Future

November 24, 2009 at 12:29 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2009 | Leave a comment

The Team Owner’s Association (TOA) has gone retro for its new league name.  It is calling its new league the North American Soccer League (NASL for short), which was the name of the highest profile former North American footy league which went defunct in 1984.   The former NASL was like a meteor which was brilliant for a brief time and then faded just as rapidly.  It enjoyed its peak from 1977 until 1981 before going into steep decline and disappearing altogether in 1984.

How the TOA get its hands on the name?   I am not sure if anyone owned the rights to the name, and, if so, how much did the TOA pay?   Whatever it was, it was money well spent because many of us remember that name, and in terms of name recognition, the NASL already beats USL-1 in spite of being defunct as an active name for 24 years or so.

I wonder where all of this is going? I remember when the Whitecaps announced their stadium plans to a meeting of season ticket holders years ago, Bob Lenarduzzi said that he saw the USL as a kind of rival to the MLS, and that perhaps there might be a merger of the two leagues one day as happened with  the National Baskeball Association and the American Basketball Association.  While the NASL have applied to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) for division 2 status, who knows what the ultimate ambition of the NASL is.

What the USSF will do is beyond me, because the USL-1 is already recognized as division 2 to the MLS.  No doubt the USSF will face some stern lobbying and perhaps legal action from the USL-1 if it confers division 2 status on the NASL.

The TOA won a victory last week by coaxing the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Crystal Palace Baltimore into their fold, and I see the branding of their new league as the NASL as being another victory for the TOA.  So far, the USL-1 has not been able to respond to the TOA in terms of marketing itself in its old form and seem to be caught flat-footed.  The TOA, being new, can invent their league from the ground up.  The USL-1 seems to be bogged down and lacking for new ideas. So far they have limited their actions to lobbying and the threat of legal action.   They are in defensive mode.

So far the score is TOA 2 USL-1 0.   But the game is not over yet…


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