As all of you are I'm sure aware by now USSF sanctioned both the USL and NASL as Co-Division 2 pro leagues in the US last week. A big question is... what exactly does this mean in the long term for soccer in the United States?
There are several scenarios that are now very real possibilities that were only theories before. The biggest in my opinion being that Co-D1's with MLS now has a precedent set for it. This Co-D1's idea can lead us in several directions... for the moment lets concentrate on one that could end up with us possessing an open pyramid for the United States.
With multiple clubs in NASL and USL already having publicly expressed a desire to be top division clubs along with several others having the ability to be top division clubs could we see the independent clubs within USL and NASL reaching an agreement to create an alternate "League System" featuring a D1 to rival MLS?
According to USSF league sanctioning regulations a D1 league must have 12 teams among other league and club administrative, governance, and staffing requirements. A combined USL/NASL league could in 2018 immediately provide 11 clubs who have expressed a desire to move to the top level of US soccer.
1. Sacramento Republic
2. Saint Louis FC
3. FC Cincinnati
4. San Antonio FC
5. Tampa Bay Rowdies
6. FC North Carolina
7. Miami FC
8. NY Cosmos
9. Indy 11
10. Louisville City FC
11. San Francisco Deltas
With several other clubs who are for sure joining or rumored to be joining the USL/NASL having expressed a desire to play at the top level including Nashville SC or Peter Wilt's NASL Chicago project it is not out of the question to be able to have 12 in year one.
Obviously all of these 11 clubs do not meet minimum stadium requirements to be D1 clubs but USSF has also shown that it will provide a waiver for leagues who do not meet minimum requirements as a league.
With multiple clubs rumored to be joining both USL and NASL for the 2018 season this would leave well over 16 independent non-MLS2 clubs to create a viable national D2 league. So we can easily create a Division 1/Division 2 set up from these USL/NASL clubs and the expansion clubs joining in 2018.
Currently there are well over 200 "D4/5" amateur/semi-pro clubs in the United States in national and regional elite leagues. These leagues are seeing rapid growth every year and have even started to in some cases use internal #ProRelForUSA between divisions. A unification of these leagues in to a legitimate national D4 set up of regional leagues using a model similar to the one I laid out for the mid-Atlantic region of the country could solidify a very solid base for clubs to grow and mature in.
During Year 2 we could see a regionally divided D3 start with clubs promoted out of our new national D4 set up of regional leagues who meet requirements (and want) to be promoted as they win their way up the pyramid filling out the D3, then the D2, and then finally the D1.
As you can see this Co-D2 decision could potentially radically change the US Soccer Pyramid for the better... offering the possibility for a competing Open Pyramid featuring #ProRelForUSA running concurrently with MLS.