CHICAGO – The U.S. Soccer board of directors has granted have Professional League sanctioning to Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League and the United Soccer League for 2018, it was announced Tuesday.
MLS and NWSL were sanctioned as Division I men’s and women’s professional leagues, respectively. The USL was sanctioned as a Division II men’s professional league.
The sanctioning was approved this past weekend during a board of directors meeting in New York.
Sanctioning allows NWSL and USL to operate Division I and II leagues, respectively, during the 2018 season and includes a two-year pathway to full compliance with the Professional League Standards.
The federation said that the USL had demonstrated substantial progress toward reaching full compliance since being granted provisional Division II sanctioning last year.
The NWSL and USL will continue to work with the U.S. Soccer board of Directors ahead of the annual application deadline to demonstrate progress toward full compliance before their respective 2020 season. The leagues must reapply for sanctioning annually.
“The federation’s decision to grant the USL full Division II status is a testament to the hard work by both the league and our clubs to provide the best professional soccer experience for our fans, our communities and our players across the country,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a statement. “Years ago, we launched a comprehensive strategy with the precise goal of achieving today’s decision. We will continue to execute that strategy to perform at the very highest level both on and off, toward our goal of becoming one of the most prominent professional soccer leagues in the world.”
The North American Soccer League was not given sanctioning as it awaits an appellate court decision in its suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.