Lawsuits Won’t Help USL-1

December 10, 2009 at 2:10 am | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2010 | 1 Comment

Today it is reported that the USL-1 has filed lawsuits against Baltimore, Rochester  and Tampa Bay.  In doing so, USL-1 has fired a warning shot against others who might try to jump ship to the NASL like  Portland, Puerto Rico and Austin.   I believe these lawsuits are a desperate last ditch attempt to lobby the United States Soccer Association to make a decision in their favour. It has been reported that the USSF has asked for submissions from both USL and NASL regarding their leagues.  This will be in an effort to determine which league will get to be the official second division in American soccer.

A lawsuit may be able to get some damages from the teams, but in my view it will not be able to force these teams to play in their league.  The courts do not like to force people into servitude, but would rather make them pay damages.   I don’t see USL-1 as an organization which makes a lot of money from USL-1, if any.   So I don’t believe the damages would be that great.  Apparently the USL makes more money from its lower leagues.

In a way it is rather pathetic that USL-1 wants to get teams who don’t want to play in their league to play in it.   If the USL-1 had worked with the Team Owners Association and created a league which worked with the owner’s goals and visions for the future we would not be in this mess.

The USSF should do what is best for football and name the NASL as the official second division in American football.  The Canadian Soccer Association should do the same.   In the NASL,  football has a group of dedicated owners.  In the Whitecaps and the Impact for instance, the NASL have committed, wealthy owners who have done nothing but spectacularly good things for the game in their respective communities.  They are successful entrepreneurs who are in touch with their communities and how best to succeed in them.  They don’t need the USL to tell them how to be successful.  In many respects these teams have grown beyond the USL model, and are ready to take football to a higher level.  While USL must be credited with providing a base for this activity through its league over the years, it is time for them to get out of the way and let this bold new league flourish, or to cooperate with it for the good of football.

Some have suggested that the USSF will be worried because of the litigation and its possible impact on the bid for a future World Cup.   I do not share this view.  In terms of world football and eligibility to host a World Cup, this dispute is less than a tempest in a teapot and will have no effect upon any bid for the World Cup.

Some also speculate that the CSA is worried that CONCACAF may not recognize the NASL for the purposes of its Champions League.  This is another pale fear.  If the NASL is recognized by both the USSF and CSA, which I believe to be imminent, there will be no problem. Even in the worst case scenario where Montreal and Vancouver don’t get standing to participate in the CONCACAF Champions League,  it will probably  only be for one year while things sorted out at the most in any event, which is a small price to pay to get away from the obsolete USL-1.

The lawsuits filed are a sign of desperation on the part of USL-1.  It reminds me of the lawsuit filed against the NFL by the USFL.  The USFL won the lawsuit and were given a whopping $1.00 in damages.  The USFL died and the NFL prospers today.  I expect there may be a similar result in store for the USL-1.


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  1. I think you are way off base on your assumptions. Granted, there may be some public backlash with USL, but as is usual, the public does not know the whole picture, which has to be much different than what is being posted.

    Further, both the Whitecaps and Impact are going into MLS, so they need to be focused on those efforts, having grown out of Division II status.

    Finally, what does a US league sanctioned by USSF care about Canadian teams, other than having them as guests?

    IF CSA sanctions NASL, it is only good for the Canadian teams, USSF would have to allow any US team to participate, and that is not a given.

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