NASL, USL Showdown Shifts to a Scorpions Rival

Rivalry between USL and NASL was once focused in San Antonio, but has shifted north
by Chris Hockman   |   Friday, July 05, 2013

Defending The Fort - column on San Antonio Scorpions (SASFC) & the San Antonio soccer scene.

The formation of the San Antonio Scorpions was a little rushed; it came out of almost nowhere and was a ploy by the NASL to send a message to the USL.

At the time, the USL was very interested in a club in San Antonio, operated by Spurs Sports and Entertainment, which had long-held a USL license. But with the NASL splintering away, they were looking to get in on USL's turf.

That led to Gordon Hartman stepping in and revealing Soccer for a Cause a model devised by Ed Sakiewicz, which was then pushed forward by Michael Hitchcock, unceremoniously dumping Sakiewicz in the process.

With this announcement and the Spurs not getting permission to play a professional soccer team at Alamo Stadium, SSE was content to see how things played out and 2 years later the NASL/USL showdown seemed to be settling.

That all changed this week when a group from Oklahoma City was invited to attend the NASL Board of Governors Meeting in Arlington later this month (coinciding with the Gold Cup semi-finals).

That on its own would seem to be relatively harmless, but the problem here is that the OKC group is the same group that owns OKCFC, a PDL team competing in the mid-south division alongside the Austin Aztex.

For those unfamiliar with the structure of America's non-pro/rel pyramid, the PDL is the 4th tier and is a member of the United Soccer Leagues (USL).

This has led to an explosion of the war between NASL and USL with lawyers from both sides getting involved as they fight for dominance in the state to Texas' North.

The PDL team is run by Brad Lund, who is set to run the NASL club while Bobby Funk Jr. announced on Tuesday that his Prodigal sports has purchased a USL PRO license and plan to bring a team to Oklahoma City in that league. It's all sounding familiar, if not a step advanced, from the case in San Antonio.

This is where the lawyers step in the PDL contract from Oklahoma City FC involves a non-compete clause, meaning that the ownership group can't join a competing league.

The NASL would be seen as a competing league, but you can see the lawyers from the Lund group attempting to argue that PDL isn't a competitor with NASL but rather NPSL. But it is hard to see that argument flying given the clear intent of this clause was to prevent teams jumping to NASL again. And as a result, the USL has sent Lund's group a cease and desist notice.

NASL responded on Monday filing a suit of its own with Sold Out Strategies, filing a federal law-suit asking for relief from the non-compete clause.

The biggest problem for fans in Oklahoma City is the same problem that fans in San Antonio faced: If the 2 groups both commence play in 2014 or 2015, it's clear that they will cannibalize each other and soccer will fail in the city.

As a fan out of San Antonio, a rivalry that is conceivable to get to is an exciting prospect; as a Minnesota fan pointed out this week, Minnesota is only 18 hours from San Antonio. So fans in the Alamo City will want NASL to succeed.

One thing is clear, there needs to be just one team that emerges from this fight or both will die and soccer in Oklahoma City, and indeed the state as a whole will be the only loser.

Chris HOCKMAN

Nationality:
Australia
College:
Univ W. Sydney & Youthworks Coll.
Club Domestic:
Houston Dynamo, San Antonio Scorpions, Austin Aztex
Club Foreign:
Central Coast Mariners
Originally from Australia found football (or soccer as you Yanks call it) a great connection in a new country. Freelance writer since 2005 covering Australian and US Soccer. Based out of San Antonio but can regularly be seen in Houston, Austin and Dallas.
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