In the aftermath of the US Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit’s decision to affirm the ruling of the US 2nd District Court denying the North American Soccer League’s petition for a preliminary injunction to allow play in the 2018 season, NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal announces the league will be suspending plans for the 2018 season.
Sehgal said, “The focus of the antitrust suit to date has been obtaining a preliminary injunction to save the 2018 Season. Unfortunately, with USSF’s decision and the loss of the preliminary injunction, playing the 2018 Season is no longer a possibility. The focus of the antitrust suit now shifts to securing the long-term advancement of soccer in this country, not only for the NASL, but for all soccer fans, clubs, and communities impacted by the USSF’s restrictions on competition. Also, the NASL is prosecuting a breach of fiduciary duty action against certain USSF Board members for conflicts of interest and derelictions of duty which have harmed the NASL and countless other constituents in U.S. Soccer. The NASL and its clubs will look at all avenues to return to the field for the 2019 Season.” A full statement can be found here.
The statement also offered something Cosmos Country has been asking ever since the District Court ruling – the status of Cosmos B in 2018. Rishi Seghal confirmed that during the NASL hiatus, the New York Cosmos, Miami FC and Jacksonville Armada will field teams in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), starting April 15th, 2018. No announcement has yet been made by the Cosmos organization, though the Cosmos B have appeared for several weeks on other NPSL teams’ schedules.
UPDATE: First Team Podcast has received a press release announcing that Rocco Commisso will hold a conference call tomorrow March 1, 2018. First Team Podcast will have complete coverage.
Cosmos B play in the NPSL’s Northeast Region’s Atlantic-Blue Conference. Other clubs in the Atlantic-Blue include the Brooklyn Italians, Elm City Express, Greater Lowell United, and TSF FC. During the ten-game season, Cosmos B will also face off against clubs in the region’s Atlantic-White Conference. They include Boston City FC, Hartford City, Kingston Stockade FC, Rhode Island Reds, New York Athletic Club SC, and the Seacoast United Mariners. There are ten matches in the NPSL regular season.
The Cosmos organization has not yet released a statement, but Miami FC CEO Sean Flynn released one late Tuesday in response to today’s news. It carries a curiously conciliary tone towards the USSF and its new president, given the ongoing CAS arbitration request initiated by The Miami FC owner Ricardo Silva and Kingston Stockade owner Dennis Crowley.
“Obviously we are disappointed in last week’s outcome of the appeal and the subsequent cancellation of the NASL season, which happened as a direct result of the ruling”, Flynn wrote. “We were looking forward to Miami FC getting back on the field this fall to continue the successes from last season. Looking ahead, we are excited to begin working with new USSF President Carlos Cordeiro, in the hopes of building a brighter future for soccer in America.
“We continue to explore any and all options for Miami FC to play as soon as possible. We have made enormous progress in just two short years, from assembling a first class front office to presenting an incredibly successful team on the field, and we remain committed to investing our efforts and resources in the South Florida community. Our focus is to secure play for Miami FC immediately, and to give our fans, supporters and corporate partners the level of competition and excitement that they have grown to love and expect. We are eager to start training camp next week for Miami FC 2 and enter a competitive NPSL season beginning in April. Exciting additional announcements regarding the development and future of Miami FC will be made in the coming weeks and months, further demonstrating our commitment to Miami and soccer in the U.S.”
Cosmos Country has ridden a Coney Island Cyclone of mixed feelings in recent months, as we have seen players depart for opportunities elsewhere. We wish them all nothing but the best even as we lament the inflicted motivation for their departures, as they (rightly so) pursue their careers or for opportunities to provide for their families. While we await more granular confirmation as to the organization’s continued support for those players remaining,
Paul Kennedy for Soccer America wrote an article summarizing players officially still on the four remaining NASL clubs’ rosters (Cosmos, Armada, The Miami FC, and Puerto Rico FC). While this may change at any time, our first team’s Boys in Green currently are:
- Bledi Bardic
- Salvatore Barone [UPDATE: It’s been reported that Barone will be joining Penn FC for 2018.]
- Brian Holt
- Richard Menjivar
- Lucky Mkosana
- Kobi Moyal
- Jimmy Mulligan
- Daniel Szetela
The Cosmos B roster and schedule, as of this writing, are still not updated. It raises the question of whether one or more of the current roster players might be incorporated into Cosmos B roster for the upcoming 2018 season, and how that might impact Cosmos B players from last season who planned around assumptions of playing in 2018. We all hope for more news in the coming days.
There’s no question that this is not where we wanted to be. That it was not entirely unexpected doesn’t help much. I draw some optimism from hearing of the Cosmos B news however. It reminds me of some other ideas that bring me some comfort. I hope, if you’re reading this and feel like your heart is being walked all over on, might bring you some hope as well.
This is a country where sports business interests drive people to a league mentality. But Cosmos Country and other compatriots are part of something different. Ushering in a more club-centered landscape is partly what drives us to our soccer passions. In Rocco Commisso, Ricardo Silva and Robert Palmer, we have kindred souls armed with the resources and the will to bring a better kind of soccer to our shores. (Check out recent Palmer interviews on his commitment and his exploration of Division Zero and other alternatives.)
Leagues are just boxes. They’re containers for best-practices and collective agreements. At least they should be. The NASL faces an existential crisis point, but it’s important to remember that our clubs and community do not. The lawsuits, as grim as it is to need them, continue. Leveraging NASL grievances is how a body may still serve a community. Rocco’s goal is nothing less than the realignment of the US soccer landscape to make it possible for lower-division soccer to capitalize and thrive. The USSF use of the Professional League Standards (PLS) have long made it very difficult for any unaligned league to thrive. Its requirements that leagues be national, maintain a very specific model of ownership requiring a single high-net-worth individual, and operate in three time zones for D2 sanction particularly stand out as impediments. Changing the rules that tilt the game matters more than any label on a box.
Were the rules to change, a new league could be spun up in short order. It may be taking longer than we wanted. The cost of attrition amongst so many familiar faces is too high. And yet, there remain possibilities. There is every reason at this juncture to retain hope that a settlement or favorable judicial action is still possible. Discovery will likely not be kind to the USSF, and the NASL as an entity has nothing more to lose. The USSF’s imminent motion to dismiss (the next broadside exchange in court) is – according to several lawyer-fans generous enough to share their opinion – estimated to be favorable to the survival of the NASL claim. In both rulings so far, circumstantial support accumulates though it remains completely conditional on what discovery produces. If the motion to dismiss is survived, the period of maximum pressure on the USSF begins.
What we can do is what we’ve always been doing – support our club in all its manifestations. When the Cosmos B schedule is confirmed, make it out to the games. It won’t be MCU Park, but the 5 Points will be there, and the more we demonstrate our unwavering support the sooner we return. Hang in there, Cosmos Country.