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Toxic Talk: Keeping Your House in Order Edition

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Welcome to Toxic Talk, where our resident hater tells you what sucks about soccer this week.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Sporting KC at Minnesota United Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

During a U.S. Soccer presidential election in which establishment candidates were more dominant than Elon Musk in his interpersonal relationships, it was perhaps easy to miss a fresh lawsuit leveled at USSF by NASL after the league formally lost its second division status. This lawsuit runs concurrently with the federal lawsuit the league slapped USSF with. The new lawsuit, a nice 69-page document filed in the state of New York, offers complaints that USSF has always been biased against NASL in favor of MLS and USL, and that these leagues and USSF have conspired to put the NASL out of business. So, you have two international teams with oodles of money compared to other federations in their regions faltering on the biggest stages, players actively choosing other countries over yours, and also an entire league tanking that’s trying to sue you at the same time. Welcome to the presidency, Mr. Cordeiro.

Whose to blame for all of this? Everyone, really. Did USSF seem to favor MLS and USL? Certainly. Did conflicts of interest exist within the board, and an inordinate number of board members exist attached to MLS and USL as compared to NASL? That’s a bing-o, my friend. I don’t see how anyone could argue the board and federation in general couldn’t be biased in MLS’s favor. The league began as an extension of the federation as part of the deal which landed the U.S. the 1994 World Cup, a deal brokered by one Gulati, Sunil. Soccer United Marketing makes sure the funds of both U.S. Soccer and MLS (and by extension, USL, inasmuch as they have tied their flag to MLS’s mast). Is the failure of NASL on U.S. Soccer? Yeah, it is.

That in no way absolves NASL of its own obvious missteps in the way the league was run. NASL lost its Division 2 status after a string of failures of making progress towards markers of a Division 2 league, progress markers that were set in order to grant NASL provisional D2 status in the first place. And frankly, not all of that can be blamed on USSF. Please tell me Rayo OKC was properly vetted, after the club existed for a year, and one minority owner decided he didn’t like how things were going, promptly pulled up the turf in their home stadium (which he apparently owned?) and went home.

The New York Cosmos and Jacksonville Armada were on life support before finding new owners this offseason. The SF Deltas were practically D.O.A. at last year’s NASL championship game. And the teams that managed to build a fanbase and some success jumped ship to the relative stability of MLS and USL. Even the Cosmos, the league’s undeniable flagship team, winner of almost half of the contemporary Soccer Bowls and signers of players like Raul and Marcos Senna, weren’t paying their employees as late as last year. Sometimes those things happen in lower divisions, but all of those things happening in succession to multiple teams? That’s not the sign of a league that is healthy or progressing.

It’s my personal belief that the NASL could have been helped more by USSF, and USSF could’ve kept NASL afloat as well. They’re currently caught in a cyclical cold war where one antagonizes the other, then the other tries to punish the antagonizer, and both end up suffering damage. NASL needs USSF support to survive. They just do. USSf can survive without NASL, but if they do, they must do so with the knowledge that cutting off any source of grassroots soccer support in the states ultimately weakens their product. Soccer needs thriving lower divisions. In a country as vast as the United States, that’s doubly true, and the fact of the matter is we do not have that right now.

So, put on the Benny Hill theme and throw back a couple stiff drinks, Carlos. Welcome to the mess. It is now, formally, yours.

Boiling Points

  • THE MAGIC OF THE CUP PART 3 -

Alright, this one is actually serious.

There is nothing quite like minnows punching far, far above their weight. Fair play to Rochdale, who earned a replay at Wembley.

  • The Bhoys are Back in Town -

Celtic are the forever “oh yeah, they’re still in it” team of European competitions, and showed why with a fantastic little combination and finish against Zenit St. Petersburg.

  • The Long Way Around -

And now for something completely different.

Still-only-17-year-old Alphonso Davies cut Chelis’s Las Vegas Lights to pieces in preseason play with a coast-to-coast goal. Later on, Chelis got himself sent off, and proceeded to take a smoke break in the stands.

  • A Century for Ronaldo -

Of course, it was always going to be on an absolute screamer or a penalty.

  • People really, really love Mo Salah -

Song speaks for itself.