North American Soccer League
|Other club(s) from||Canada, Puerto Rico|
|Number of teams||8|
|Levels on pyramid||2 (US), 2 (CA)|
|Domestic cup(s)||U.S. Open Cup
|Current champions||Tampa Bay Rowdies (1st title)
|Most championships||Minnesota Stars
Tampa Bay Rowdies
(1 title each)
|2013 North American Soccer League season|
The North American Soccer League (NASL) is a professional men's soccer league in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico which began league play on April 9, 2011. It has been sanctioned as a Division II Professional League by United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer), placing it under Major League Soccer in the hierarchy. It also has teams from Canada and Puerto Rico.
The league was founded in late 2009 after multiple teams broke away from the United Soccer Leagues organization following the sale of USL to NuRock Soccer Holdings earlier that year. The official name of the league was announced on November 23, 2009.
The inaugural season was expected to begin play in April 2010, but the United States Soccer Federation refused to sanction the new league. In January 2010, the USSF elected to operate an interim USSF Division 2 Professional League for the 2010 season, comprising twelve teams from both the NASL and USL-1.
Following NASL's annual general meeting, the league announced its formal application to the USSF for Division 2 sanctioning in the United States on November 11, 2010 and was provisionally approved by the USSF on November 21, 2010. NASL began regular league play April 9, 2011 with eight members comprising former clubs from the USL First Division, the USL Second Division, plus expansion franchises, with plans in place for at least two additional clubs by 2013. The provisional sanctioning was revoked by the USSF in January due to the collapse of two of the ownership groups involved with NASL and serious questions about several others. On February 12, 2011 the USSF again granted provisional sanctioning for the 2011 season for Division 2 play.
Competition format 
NASL league play debuted on April 9, 2011 with 8 teams playing a 28 game regular season schedule, with 14 home and 14 away games, playing each opponent four times. The NASL’s playoff format consisted of the top six teams, with the first two teams receiving a bye until the semi-final round and the remaining four teams playing in a single-game playoff to advance to the semi-finals. The semi-finals and the finals each consisted of a two-game home and home aggregate goal system.
On August 27, 2009, multi-national sports company Nike agreed to sell their stake in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) to Rob Hoskins and Alec Papadakis of Atlanta-based NuRock Soccer Holdings, instead of to the USL Team Owner's Association (TOA), a group comprising the owners of several USL First Division clubs and St. Louis Soccer United.
After the purchase, several prominent TOA members began to voice their concerns about the state of the league in general, its management structure and ownership model, the leadership of USL president Francisco Marcos, and about the sale of the league to NuRock, which the TOA felt was counter-productive and detrimental to the development of the league. Within several weeks, a number of TOA member clubs threatened to break away from USL and start their own league; this threat became official on November 10, 2009, when six USL-1 clubs along with St. Louis applied for approval to create a new North American Division 2 league. On November 20, 2009, one team from both USL-1 and USL-2 announced their intentions to join the new league., taking the membership of the new league to nine teams.
The official name of the league was announced on November 23, 2009. According to the official press release, the NASL name is intended to "pay respect to the players, coaches and leaders who were pioneers for men's professional soccer in North America, many of whom remain involved and committed to the growth of the game in various capacities throughout the U.S. and Canada". Prior to the announcement of the league's name, it had been unofficially referred to in the media as the "TOA League", after the USL Team Owners Association (TOA) members who founded the league.
Following the controversial 2010 season which saw neither the USL First Division or the NASL receive Division 2 sanctioning from the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) (resulting in the temporary USSF Division 2 Pro League), the league consolidated its member franchises to meet the new Division 2 standards set out by the USSF. The NASL submitted its formal application for Division 2 sanctioning to the USSF on November 11, 2010  and was provisionally approved by the Federation November 21, 2010.
The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors provisionally sanctioned the North American Soccer League (NASL) to operate a Division 2 men’s outdoor professional soccer league in the United States on February 12, 2011.
The first official NASL season began April 9, 2011.
Single Season 
|Season||NASL Championship Series||Regular Season|
|2011||Minnesota United||Carolina RailHawks|
|2012||Tampa Bay Rowdies||San Antonio Scorpions|
Split Season 
|Season||Spring Championship||Fall Championship||Soccer Bowl|
The Carolina RailHawks, Miami FC, Minnesota United (formerly Minnesota Thunder/Stars), Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps all played in the USL First Division in 2009, and comprise the set of TOA teams that initiated the original breakaway from the USL. The Rochester Rhinos, also formerly of the USL First Division, were not part of the initial breakaway, but joined the league on November 30, 2009. FC Tampa Bay was scheduled to be a 2010 USL-1 expansion franchise, but switched to the NASL shortly after the league was officially formed. Crystal Palace Baltimore played in the USL Second Division in 2009, and joined the NASL at the same time as Tampa. The Atlanta Silverbacks last played competitively in USL-1 in 2008, and spent 2009 on hiatus from the league prior to joining the NASL. St. Louis Soccer United is the parent company of AC St. Louis, and was part of the initial TOA group that formed the league.
On October 4, 2010, NASL announced that San Antonio, Texas was awarded the 12th franchise. The team, is mostly owned by former real estate developer Gordon Hartman and plays at the South Texas Area Regional Soccer Complex (STAR Soccer Complex), which is located in north central San Antonio, adjacent to Morgan's Wonderland. Named the San Antonio Scorpions FC, the team began competition during the 2012 season. As of October 25, 2010, the Rochester Rhinos had switched league allegiance again, returning to USL to join the new USL Pro League for 2011.
Following the conclusion of the 2010 NASL Annual general meeting, the league announced its formal bid to the USSF for Division 2 sanctioning with the required minimum eight teams, including the NSC Minnesota Stars and the revived Atlanta Silverbacks. With provisional approval for the league to begin play in 2011, eight clubs were officially confirmed to launch the inaugural season: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale Strikers (formerly Miami FC), Montreal Impact, NSC Minnesota Stars, Puerto Rico Islanders & FC Tampa Bay.
On April 9, 2011, expansion side FC Edmonton debuted in the inaugural NASL match with an away win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-1. The league no longer had a team in Vancouver, as the Vancouver Whitecaps FC had joined the MLS. In Minnesota, the Thunder ceased operations due to financial problems and have been replaced by the NSC Minnesota Stars in the Twin Cities suburb Blaine, under different ownership.
While resurrections of AC St. Louis and Crystal Palace Baltimore  have been undertaken, on June 20, 2011, NASL officially announced that Ottawa, Ontario has been granted an expansion franchise: Ottawa Fury FC. The team will begin play in 2014, pending the refurbishment of Frank Clair Stadium. The stadium issue is related to the city's proposed return to the CFL, meaning that Ottawa could have two teams beginning play in the same year.
On July 12, 2012 the NASL announced that the New York Cosmos would be joining the league in the 2013 season. The original New York Cosmos were the most visible team in the original NASL, and played their games in four stadiums, most prominently Giants Stadium. The Cosmos will play home games at Hofstra University's James M. Shuart Stadium, where the original Cosmos played during the 1972 and 1973 seasons.
|Atlanta Silverbacks||Atlanta, GA||Atlanta Silverbacks Park||1998||2011||Brian Haynes|
|Carolina RailHawks||Cary, NC||WakeMed Soccer Park||2006||2010||Colin Clarke|
|FC Edmonton||Edmonton, AB||Clarke Stadium||2010||2011||Colin Miller|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Lockhart Stadium||2006||2010||Daryl Shore|
|Minnesota United||Blaine, MN||National Sports Center||2010||2010||Manny Lagos|
|New York Cosmos||Hempstead, NY||James M. Shuart Stadium||2010[n 1]||2013||Giovanni Savarese|
|San Antonio Scorpions||San Antonio, TX||Toyota Field||2010||2012||Tim Hankinson|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||St. Petersburg, FL||Progress Energy Park||2008||2010||Ricky Hill|
On hiatus 
|Puerto Rico Islanders||Bayamón, PR||Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium||2003||2011||Adrian Whitbread|
Expansion teams 
|Ottawa Fury||Ottawa, ON||Frank Clair Stadium||2011||2014||Marc Dos Santos|
|Virginia Cavalry||Ashburn, VA||BallPark at One Loudoun||2012||2014||TBA|
|Indy Eleven||Indianapolis, IN||Carroll Stadium||2013||2014||TBA|
Former teams 
From the NASL website 
- Bill Peterson - Commissioner
- Rishi Sehgal - Director of Business Development & Legal Affairs
- Kartik Krishnaiyer - Director of Communications & Public Relations
- Darren McCartney - Director of Operations
The USL issued several press releases questioning the legality of the teams choosing to break away, suggesting that it considered litigation to protect its interests and those of the USL-1 teams from any breach of contract. The USL also claimed that the NASL and the TOA ownership group was "tortuously [sic] interfering with USL-1 team owners that are contractually obligated to participate in the 2010 season" and "made several misleading statements in a variety of press releases to taint the reputation of USL and its long history of developing the sport of soccer in the United States and Canada".
The NASL disagreed with the USL assessment, and the USL did not file suit against the new league as a whole. The USL sued three of the constituent teams (Crystal Palace Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Rochester) for breach of contract, claiming that the teams had committed to playing in USL in 2010. However on December 21, 2009 the suits were dropped in favor of binding arbitration.
In January 2010, after announcing that it would not sanction either the NASL or the USL First Division for 2010, the USSF announced that it would be running a second-tier league in 2010, putting the NASL on hold for at least a year. The USSF Division 2 Professional League included teams from both the NASL and USL-1.
Controversy continued to surround both the NASL and the USL through the 2010 temporary USSF D-2 Pro League season and in the lead up a 2011 compromise on Tier 2 and Tier 3 soccer in the United States, as the leagues have fought for the loyalty of various clubs. Most recently, USL's Puerto Rico Islanders joined NASL, while a founding member of the NASL, the Rochester Rhinos, returned to the USL in October.
Minor Cups 
See also 
- "FC Edmonton wins first-ever NASL game". The Soccer Room. 2011-04-10. Retrieved 2011-10-07.
- Hayes, Pete (2009-11-23). "The NASL is Returning". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-10-07.
- "New Men’s Second Division Professional Soccer League Announces Name: North American Soccer League". Carolinarailhawks.com. Retrieved 2011-10-07.
- "It’s not MLS, but St. Louis gets an outdoor men’s pro soccer team". stltoday.com. 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
- "Whitecaps 2010 soccer season in jeopardy". The Vancouver Sun. 2009-12-30. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
- "US Soccer Federation To Oversee Combined NASL/USL League". Goal.com. 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
- "NASL Concludes AGM and Finalizes USSF Application". www.nasl.com. 2010-11-11. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
- "NASL Provisionally Sanctioned by USSF". www.nasl.com. 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- Wittmann, Gerry (2011-01-25). "NASL Taking Proactive Stance on Schedule Announcement". insidemnsoccer.com. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
- "NASL Provisionally Sanctioned by USSF for 2011". www.nasl.com. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
- "Teams Split From USL-1; To Form New League In 2010". Goal.com. 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- "Palace Join New Professional Soccer League". Crystal Palace USA. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- "NASL Provisionally Sanctioned as Division 2 Professional League for 2011". ussoccer.com. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
- Oliver, Richard (April 10, 2010). "S.A. gets professional soccer team". mysanantonio.com. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- "Rochester Rhinos Back in USL". www.uslsoccer.com. 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- "NASL Continues to Build on Strong Foundation". www.nasl.com. 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
- "Crystal Palace Baltimore to Sit Out 2011 Season". www.nasl.com. 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
- Bottjer, Steve. "BOTTJER ON OTTAWA: NASL'S CAPITAL GAINS". Sportsnet. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Starnes, Richard (2011-06-20). "Ottawa lands pro soccer franchise". Ottawacitizen.com. Retrieved 2011-10-07.[dead link]
- "New York Cosmos Join NASL". North American Soccer League. NASL.com. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "New York Cosmos Return to Roots at Hofstra University". New York Cosmos. New York City. 2012-09-25. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- "Indy officially lands 12th North American Soccer League Franchise". Indianapolis Star. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
- "NASL Awards Team To Indianapolis". North American Soccer League. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
- "The New York Cosmos Celebrates its 40th Birthday". New York City: New York Cosmos. 2011-02-05. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
- Bell, Jack (2010-08-01). "Cosmos Begin Anew, With Eye Toward M.L.S". The New York Times (New York, New York). Retrieved 2010-08-04.
- "front Office | North American Soccer League". Nasl.com. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- "USL Statement regarding USL-1". United Soccer Leagues. 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
- "USL statement regarding Tampa, Baltimore". United Soccer Leagues. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- "news from USL". Thekartikreport.wordpress.com. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2011-10-07.
- "official website".
- "Press release announcing formation of new league". Uslnews.com. Retrieved 2011-10-07.