Sunday, January 30, 2011

USL, NASL, USSF & Creation Centre

Grab some coffee, it's going to be a long one here.

Good news! Lower division soccer in North America exists! Okay, that's good, but not news. Alternate good news! It is a mess that is trying to get organized! Right now, as I type. 2011 could be seen as one of two things for our lower divisions.

1. Just another transition year that will be followed by many more.

2. The start of a real lower league that will finally hold for years to come.

Others more mighty then I have perished trying to explain lower league soccer in North America. I'm trying to put all this together right now and looking at the top of my browser I see that I have about 10 tabs open. Anyway, the best I can find is the the United States Soccer Pyramid.

I believe that 2011 will be the year that lower division soccer will get a foothold even though it is still in flux. The Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps are moving to the MLS this year leaving a void that will have to be filled behind them. They were not promoted based on performance or anything. More just about how much money they can make. Promotion/Relegation in the US is not in the cards anytime soon. The Timbers and Whitecaps were founded in 2009, this is frustrating. The USL has teams that have been around for over 10 years and a couple for 17 years. Portland and Vancouver were chosen based on two simple facts.

1. Location (the MLS wants a clear cut East / West)
2. Revenue Potential

I'm not a fan of "United States Soccer Federation" (USSF). It's an organization that despite sitting on a goldmine (of potential money and millions of American kids playing) fails to organize the sport here. But, it takes a national organization like it to create order out of chaos. Once this gets sorted the US will begin to get better. Or even better, depending on how you feel about our quality out here.

Looking at Lower Division Challenges:

The biggest challenge for the USSF is distance. Covering it requires money. In England it is not a problem. In the US? it is. It is very expensive to travel a team all around the country. Another challenge is obscurity. Only a small fraction of the country knows that there is more pro soccer out there other then the MLS.

The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup:

With the USSF taking the reins on Lower Division soccer I can see this cup becoming more interesting in the coming years. It has been around forever, but now that the MLS has finally proved that pro soccer can be sustainable in the US I believe that the key to future success of soccer in this country is the US Open Cup.

Only once since the MLS has been around has a team outside that league not won the CUP. The Rochester (Ragin') Rhinos. Charleston Battery made the final in 2008 but lost to DC United. I've read in the past that those two have a fierce rivalry. This is a little thing but means big things for the future.

It's a good thing that MLS teams are winning this Cup. It shows that our "top division" truly has the best teams even without relegation and promotion. That said, I hope that we see more teams not from the MLS doing well. It will bring them out into the national spotlight and raise awareness to the fact that soccer has already arrived in the US whether ESPN likes to admit it or not. I'd venture to say that the anchors over at that cable station all have kids playing soccer and choosing soccer over other sports and are slowly coming to terms that - In fact; it is the most played sport in this country.


FIFA 11's incredible feature that allows people to create teams is incredibly popular. I once felt that I was in the minority in spending hours creating my own team filled with friends using reasonable, believable stats on skill and height. But I am not!

Just yesterday I discovered that there are many. Yeah, there are the unbeatable teams filled with 99 rated players, but I also found a wealth of teams just like the Helltown Brewmasters. There are also folks uploading lower division US teams like the Richmond Kickers and Charleston Battery. How great is this? EA might not include them but players are creating them.

There are varying levels of good though. Example; Richmond is lovingly done, but the stats are off the charts. Charleston is fairly done though. It's great. That team fits exactly where it should in terms of stats.

England football fans have also come out in force in creating teams even further down the league tables. I was able to find Kettering Town (my grandmothers home) that was realistically created.

I intend to find more. Long post here so in the future I can create a list of teams fairly done from the US lower divisions.

No comments: