New England Soccer Today

Potential NE-based NASL Prospects Darken

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

The prospects of a potential New England-based side playing second division soccer next year was dealt a severe blow after a U.S. District Court judge denied the NASL’s request for mandatory injunction for second-division status.

The decision comes less than a month after Hartford and Boston were mentioned as markets rumored to be in the mix for NASL expansion in 2018. According to a report, current NPSL sides Hartford City FC and Boston City FC were among a group of outfits that had signed letters of intent to join the league.

Specific details of the agreements are unknown, but NASL attorney Jeffrey Kessler told the court this week there were expansion teams ready to join the NASL if Division Two status was restored, though he noted there were six agreements, not eight.

The NASL was stripped of permanent second-division status by the U.S. Soccer Federation in September amidst a fluctuating number of league members which decreased to eight permanent members in 2017. The NASL appealed the decision, citing the league would potentially have to fold without second division status.

The NASL had claimed U.S. Soccer, MLS, and the USL, who were recently granted second-division status last January, were conspiring against the NASL by changing the league standards and criteria, such as minimum number of teams and stadium capacity.

This news comes shortly after reports that eight NPSL teams had signed a letter of intent to join the NASL in 2018, including New England sides Hartford City FC and Boston City FC.

Additionally, USSF attorney Russell Sauer stated the reported expansion teams would not qualify as Division Two ownership groups, and the letters of intent were non-binding.

“If you look at the letter of intent, undated, nonbinding and it says on its face, in Section B, the owners themselves don’t meet the financial requirements,” Sauer said. “Well, the new team agreements … make it clear that those teams cannot survive financially on their own.”

Sauer also noted the two expansion teams already planned, California United and San Diego 1904, haven’t been qualified as meeting the Division Two ownership requirements.

The court proceedings also revealed North Carolina FC will be moving to the USL, while the expansion San Francisco Deltas will likely fold and FC Edmonton could be moving to the new Canadian Premier League. Without these three members, the NASL would be reduced to five returning clubs, which is three short of the minimum number required for a USSF-sanctioned league.

In a statement shortly after the decision, the NPSL stated they will be reviewing all possible legal options, including the process of appealing the ruling.

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