NOTE: The following is absolutely not a response from US Soccer President Sunil Gulati to supporters of the North American Soccer League after the letter they sent him yesterday, but it could be. If Gulati were inclined to respond. And exceedingly sarcastic. Read the faux-response after the jump.
Dear NASL Supporters:
I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, but Chicago is in the process of being transformed into Ice Planet Hoth. I wanted to respond to your letter of yesterday, though, before the power goes out and we end up having to burn a stack of Paul Gardner books.
Rest assured we hear you and appreciate your passion for the game. It’s our job at US Soccer to not only be passionate about the game, but to think of its best long-term interests, sometimes at the expense of short-term goals. The recent decision to de-sanction the NASL for 2011 was not one we took lightly.
I’m happy to hear that you feel a stronger connection to the NASL than you ever did to USL. It’s wonderful that you’ve found someone – and so soon! – who likes you for you and who you can grow old with. I will warn you, though, that you might want to talk to some friends of mine in St. Louis who used to be in a relationship with the NASL, as well as some others in North Carolina who feel they were lied to (it’s a pretty bad breakup – they even sold all their stuff. I know, right?).
Last year we had to act as intermediary in the divorce between USL and the NASL (which was tough for us, because we like them both and were caught in the middle and they’d call us at all hours of the night, crying over their Swiss Almond Mocha ice cream, and who needs that?). We had to use some tough love in hopes that this year they’d both be strong enough to live on their own and not share our guest bedroom.
Well, the USL went and moved into a small one-bedroom apartment, got some new friends (though we’re not sure about all of them) and new clothes and started rebuilding themselves by living within their means. The NASL went out and bought a house they couldn’t possibly afford (some of their friends were supposed to chip in for the down payment and expenses, but bailed and left them paying almost half the mortgage) and have been maxing out their credit cards, buying things they might not even use. We told them, “Here’s what you’re going to have to do for us to take you back,” and they just haven’t shown a willingness to change.
Some of you have floated the theory that we here at Soccer House are denying sanctioning to the NASL to protect MLS. It’s no secret
I’ve we’ve been in bed with MLS for years now, but let’s be honest here: right now MLS is the guy at the bar who’s gaining more confidence by the minute, chatting up some reasonably attractive women but still being dismissed by the really, really hot ones (hey, we can relate). The NASL, meanwhile, is the drunk in the corner who wants to fight the guy at the bar, but who can’t stand up or throw a punch just yet. The only people the NASL is a danger to are themselves and you, the fans.
To be honest, my eyes glazed over as I read more of your letter. Blah blah blah children need pro players to emulate blah blah blah national team blah blah blah end of the world as we know it. The fact is, you just want a team and a league for it and the only requirement you seem to have is that it not be the USL. Well, that’s all well and good, but I’m not sure you really grasp what the people you’re sleeping with are all about.
Maybe the NASL really has changed and has a better idea. They keep sending us notes and leaving us messages, but we aren’t sure they’re sincere. We’ll give them a chance to explain everything, though, before we make a final decision about whether or not they’ll be sanctioned as a Division II league for 2011.
So, don’t consider this a repudiation; consider it an intervention. We not only have a stake in seeing second division soccer succeed, we have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure you have a team in 2012 and 2013 and beyond. You’re worried about 2011, and that’s okay. That’s what fans do.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to resume my search for the tapes of the 1998 USA World Cup team. We need some kindling around here.
All the best,
President, US Soccer