Last week’s devastating loss to Trinidad & Tobago and all its ramifications represent a major step back for soccer in the United States. It also represents, however, a unique opportunity to take giant leaps forward. All areas of the sport will now be examined and addressed. Importantly, one of those areas is the structure of professional soccer. Part of the solution is a new way to structure the domestic pro game with the creation of a new pyramid and other advancements being instituted by the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA).
NISA’s vision and plan includes the following:
A new pyramid not connected with MLS or the USL leagues
Open system promotion and relegation
Advocate and push for a minority percentage fan ownership
Advocate and push for academies and links to foreign clubs
Advocate and push for training and solidarity payments to youth clubs
Prior to the Men’s National Team’s ticket to Russia being withdrawn last week, a new path forward for professional soccer had already been germinating in America. That path led by NISA includes those elements above which are common in international soccer, but literally foreign in American soccer.
The new pyramid will be independent from Major League Soccer and the United Soccer Leagues. It will replicate the structure of pro soccer around the world using promotion and relegation as a means to incentivize player development and reward on field success in a meritocracy. NISA advocating for academies and training and solidarity payments along with the motivation of promotion and fear of relegation will lead to lower division clubs adding their own academies then investing to improve facilities and training staff.
In addition to utilizing promotion and relegation, the new pyramid will be different from the existing MLS/USL pyramid in its corporate structure, its governance and its policies on intellectual property, fan ownership, club services and league growth.