U.S. Soccer delays decision on reclassifying divisions of NASL, USL

The North American Soccer League received a lifeline on Tuesday as the U.S. Soccer Federation postponed a decision on reclassifying divisions.

U.S. Soccer's board of directors had been expected to announce whether there would be any changes made to the second-fier NASL, which is in the midst of financial troubles, and the third-tier USL.

With teams departing, the NASL has been in danger of being reclassified as a third-tier league, but any changes to its status have been delayed while the national federation continues to meet with officials from both leagues.

A U.S. Soccer statement said: "After continuing discussions with NASL and USL, the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors postponed the decision on sanctioning/re-certification of leagues for Division 2 and Division 3.

"We expect to have further discussions in the next 7-10 days as we focus on the resolution of this important matter."

Among the standards for determining whether a league is Division 2 or Division 3 are number of teams, the geographic distribution of the teams, and size of the markets for the teams involved.

The NASL has been hemorrhaging teams since the conclusion of its 2016 season. Minnesota United will join MLS next year, while both the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Ottawa Fury announced they have moved to the USL.

Both the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers and Rayo OKC are in financial trouble. A report from The Oklahoman stated that Rayo OKC were not represented at the meetings and had released their players.

The fate of the New York Cosmos, who some reports indicate are going to cease operations, is still to be determined, and the USSF's delay could allow the team more time to secure new owners.

The USL has been aiming to see the USSF declare it a Division II league after playing the recently concluded 2016 season with 29 teams -- 11 of which were MLS reserve sides -- and is poised to add four more for 2017.

U.S. Soccer also confirmed that MLS and NWSL were re-certified as Division 1 leagues for men and women.