From Raúl to ruin: the rise and fall of the NASL, once MLS’s challenger

To an outside observer, it may be hard to believe that the North American Soccer League was able to play at all this season.

Last winter, the league was left for dead. Having just watched two teams fold, another move to MLS, and two more head across the second division landscape to the USL, the six-year-old NASL was left with just eight clubs. News came out that the historic New York Cosmos (linked to the days of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer in brand alone) had lost $30m over their first four years and were likely to fold.

This fall has seen two crucial rulings: one from the US Soccer Federation stripping the NASL of its second division sanctioning, and one from the US District Court denying the NASL’s request for an injunction to reclaim that second division status. As teams across the league plan for 2018, many believe the NASL is all but done. Ahead of the league’s championship match this Sunday, between the Cosmos and San Francisco Deltas, now is a good time to ask: where did it all go wrong?

Read further on The Guardian’s full article.