Amidst uncertainty surrounding the NASL‘s status for 2018 and beyond, expansion 1904 FC appears inclined to begin play in 2019 as opposed to 2018.
Along with California United FC, 1904 FC was to be one of two expansion clubs to begin NASL play in 2018. However, the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) announced in September that the NASL would not retain its Division II status for the 2018 season, claiming the league had not made sufficient progress to reach Division II criteria: 12 teams across three time zones, with minimum standards for stadium sizes, market sizes and owner net worth. The league later countered by filing an antitrust lawsuit against the USSF, alleging that the federation violated federal antitrust laws through its structure that denied Division II status.
As part of the legal fallout, the NASL previously sought to obtain a preliminary injunction to maintain its Division II status while the antitrust lawsuit against USSF unfolds, only for that request to be denied in November. The League has since appealed that decision, but no ruling has been issued. In the interim, the NASL has announced that it will change its schedule to begin play in August–rather than the spring–and follow the international soccer calendar by playing through early June 2019.
1904 could face some roadblocks to securing a home venue during that period, and the club’s plans for a new stadium in Oceanside are not expected to come to fruition until 2019. 1904 FC president Bob Watkins indicates that the club plans to begin play in the spring of 2019 regardless, and could consider options beyond the NASL. More from The San Diego-Union Tribune:
As for 1904 FC, starting in August 2018 creates several logistical hurdles. It might need a place to play, since it had secured USD’s Torero Stadium from March to July and Watkins now says the Oceanside stadium might not be ready until early 2019 instead of September. He added that the club’s deposits to USD can be applied to 2019 as a “backup” venue in case stadium construction is further delayed.
Waiting until 2019 also allows 1904 FC to keep all league options alive, including those like the USL that play a spring-to-fall schedule.
“We’re going to continue to move forward looking at the opportunities we might have in addition to the NASL,” Watkins said. “Our intentions are to be playing for sure in the spring of 2019.”
An immediate question for the NASL is how many teams it could field in 2018. The league’s strategy was to add more teams, including new Orange County and San Diego franchises, for 2018 and then boost league numbers with a plan to elevate NPSL teams. However, after playing at eight teams last year, the league has already seen the San Francisco Deltas fold and FC Edmonton shut down operations for 2018, and North Carolina FC has already confirmed its move to the USL. Recent reports indicate that Indy Eleven could make the jump to USL as well, though nothing has been finalized to this point.