USSF gives both NASL and USL provisional Division II status

(photo courtesy NASL)

CHICAGO (AP) - The North American Soccer League and United Soccer League were both given provisional Division II status Friday by the U.S. Soccer Federation's board of directors.

The USSF said neither league meets all its standards and the federation will determine additional requirements and a timeline for meeting them.

The current NASL started play in 2011 with second-tier status. Aaron Davidson was the NASL board chairman and president of Traffic Sports USA, a NASL investor, before he was indicted in May 2015 as part of the U.S. Justice Department investigation into soccer corruption. He pleaded guilty last October to federal racketeering conspiracy and wire-fraud conspiracy charges, and he is awaiting sentencing.

There were 12 NASL teams in its 2016 fall season but Minnesota United moved up to first-tier Major League Soccer for 2017, Tampa Bay and Ottawa shifted to the USL and it is unclear whether the New York Cosmos will continue to play.

The Indy Eleven are part of the NASL. The team issued the following statement Friday night:

"Indy Eleven appreciates the diligent work performed by the U.S. Soccer Federation in recent months and agrees with their acknowledgement that the North American Soccer League should retain its Division II designation.

On the field, the Indy Eleven family is eager to continue to provide our dedicated fans and partners a high caliber of entertaining, winning soccer as part of the NASL in 2017. Indy Eleven is also excited for the league’s impending growth this year through the addition of several promising expansion groups that will bolster the NASL in the years to come."

The USL, which began its professional competition in 2011, had held Division III status and reached an agreement with MLS in 2013 to integrate the reserve teams of the top-tier league. Twenty-nine teams competed last year, and 30 are slated to play this year.

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