The World's Game In The Heart of the Sun Belt

Atlanta soccer weekend, June 19-20

• The Atlanta Beat scored its first victory in Women’s Professional Soccer Saturday but even more impressively did so without its full contingent of players that has been enhanced since the folding of St. Louis Athletica.

The Beat doesn’t have much time to enjoy its victory, however, as it plays host to Philadelphia Wednesday. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at the Kennesaw State soccer complex.

• Atlanta FC got a point in NPSL play Saturday in a 1-1 draw with FC Chattanooga.

• The Atlanta Blackhawks trailed Mississippi 3-0 Saturday in their PDL contest at Alpharetta High School, then staged a late comeback, scoring twice in the last eight minutes for a 3-3 draw.

• The Silverbacks women got back on the winning track in the W-League with a 2-0 clean sheet over Tampa Bay Hellenic.

June 21, 2010   2 Comments

Atlanta soccer weekend wrap, June 5-6

• Five new starters — all formerly with the St. Louis Athletica — graced the Atlanta Beat’s starting lineup Sunday, but a 0-0 draw with Chicago keeps the Beat winless in Women’s Professional Soccer.

New goalkeeper Hope Solo did preserve Atlanta’s second point of the season with a tremendous diving save in the 87th minute.

The Beat is off next week, then plays host to the Red Stars on June 19.

Atlanta FC fell to Rocket City United 2-1 on Saturday in an NPSL Southeast Division regular season contest. The next home game is July 3 against the Birmingham Pumas.

• The Atlanta Blackhawks of the Professional Development League were off last week, but play host to New Orleans Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Alpharetta High School.

• The Atlanta Silverbacks of the W-League also were idle, and are at home at Silverbacks Park Saturday to face the Tampa Bay Hellenic in a 7:30 p.m. start.

• Gwinnett Soccer Association teams won six titles at the Georgia State Cup tournament, earning four on the girls’ side and two boys’ titles. The Concorde Fire Elite boys teams won the 13, 14 and 15 age groups, while AFC Lightning Club claimed one title each for girls and boys.

June 7, 2010   No Comments

More misery for the Atlanta Beat

The first national television audience to view the Atlanta Beat at its new home at Kennesaw State University witnessed the same old result for the expansion club.

The Washington Freedom downed the still-winless Beat 2-0 before a crowd of 3,112, less than half for last weekend’s home opener.

Women’s Professional Soccer does have a better television presence than the Women’s United Soccer Association. But the weekly WPS game on Fox Soccer Channel on Sunday evenings isn’t conducive to a good home draw, especially with school still in session.

The Beat is off this week and will entertain St. Louis Athletica on May 29 in the first Saturday night home game of the season.

On Saturday night, the Atlanta Silverbacks women opened their 2010 season with a 1-0 win over Hampton Roads as Kay Harbrueger got the game’s only goal in the first half.

The Silverbacks remain at home this week and will play host to the Tampa Bay Hellenic on Saturday.

May 17, 2010   No Comments

A big weekend for women’s soccer in Atlanta

The Atlanta Beat is still looking for its first win in Women’s Professional Soccer, and getting it against the Washington Freedom (6 p.m., KSU Soccer Stadium, Fox Soccer Channel) is no small task.

Beat goalkeeper Brett Maron, profiled here by former USA Today soccer writer Beau Dure, appreciates the opportunity to compete at the WPS level after playing in the Icelandic ranks, where she met Beat coach Gareth O’Sullivan.

Maron also appreciates the environment in Atlanta that makes it comfortable for her to be openly gay.

The Atlanta Silverbacks women begin their W-League season at 7:30 tonight at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta Stadium.

Creative Loafing previews a team that reached the semifinals in 2009 and is aiming for more.

On the men’s side, the Atlanta Blackhawks of the PDSL play host to Nashville at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Alpharetta High School in their home opener.

May 15, 2010   No Comments

No Atlanta team USL/NASL league in 2010

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Thursday that the warring factions of the United Soccer Leagues and the breakaway North American Soccer League will field a joint Division II league in 2010, under the federation’s auspices.

But there will not be a team on the field from Atlanta.

The 12-team, two-division league will be comprised of six USL teams and six more from the NASL, which had included the Atlanta Silverbacks. The full breakdown is here.

USSF president Sunil Gulati said on a Thursday conference call that both Atlanta and New York are not ready to field teams in the coming season:

“It was pretty clear to us that Atlanta was never going to play this year, and New York it became obvious early on.”

Here are some previous posts on the dispute, which was triggered late last summer when the USL was sold to Atlanta-based Nu Rock Soccer Holdings. That organization fielded a USL-sponsored Professional Development League team in Atlanta last summer while the Silverbacks went on hiatus.

Silverbacks president Boris Jerkunica had balked at USL leadership for several years before withdrawing, but he has not publicly commented on his plans for returning to the second division level. The Silverbacks will continue to field a team in the USL-run amateur W-League.

I have a request in to Jerkunica once again asking him to address these issues and others.

More information will be posted here as the story develops.

January 7, 2010   2 Comments

U.S. Soccer won’t sanction NASL or USL

If you were hoping the end of the year would bring with it a resolution to the feuding between the United Soccer Leagues and the breakaway North American Soccer League, think again.

The U.S. Soccer Federation on Wednesday said it was refusing to sanction either second division league for the 2010 season, and ordered both to work something out in the next week.

Some instant reaction to the news is here, here and here, with the opinions mixed.

And in the strongest rebuke the USSF is accused of preferring the status quo, feeling that Major League Soccer would be threatened by the NASL, which includes the Atlanta Silverbacks.

The USL, purchased this summer by Atlanta-based NuRock Soccer Holdings, issued a release that doesn’t say much at all.

The NASL is “disappointed” by the decision but promises to co-operate.

Of course, if it and the USL had been as conciliatory as they’re both trying to sound now, there wouldn’t be the bitter impasse that may last a good while longer.

December 30, 2009   3 Comments

While the fate of the USL/NASL lingers . . .

Here’s an update on the United Soccer Leagues/North American Soccer League dispute that is reportedly being refereed shortly by the U.S. Soccer Federation. It runs down the teams involved in the breakaway NASL alliance that is seeking sanctioning authority. However, the Atlanta Silverbacks, who helped strike the match that led to this point, do not appear to be fielding a team next season:

“The Silverbacks ownership were the first to show their unhappiness with USL by dropping out of the league in the fall of 2008 after other teams had also threatened. The TOA are claiming that Atlanta is a team scheduled to play in 2010 but word on the street is they will not be ready to play until 2011.”

I’ve also heard this on the grapevine, as well as that the Silverbacks amateur women’s team in the USL-run W-League is a go for next season. However, Silverbacks chairman Boris Jerkunica has not commented publicly on any of this, despite repeated requests from Atlanta Soccer News.

Hoping to have some confirmation soon.

December 17, 2009   No Comments

Silverbacks not among teams sued by USL

I’ve refrained from posting here on the continuing battle between the United Soccer Leagues and the newly-formed North American Soccer League until the frantic, twisted scenario sorted itself out a little bit.

Instead, the scrap over the future of minor league soccer in North America reached full boil on Wednesday, with the news that the USL has filed suit against three teams in the breakaway league that includes the Atlanta Silverbacks.

The Silverbacks are not one of those teams, but the Rochester Rhinos, Crystal Palace FC (Baltimore) and Tampa Bay Rowdies are the subjects of allegations that they are in breach of contracts binding them to the USL for the 2010 season.

The USL didn’t make a lot of the lawsuit news on its own site, issuing a statement accusing The Owners Association, the consortium of owners who formed the new league, of “tortuous interference.”

If it reads like it was written by a roomful of lawyers, get used to it. Reportedly both leagues met with the U.S. Soccer Federation at the behest of the latter on Monday, but the “productive meeting” Sunil Gulati described apparently wasn’t so productive after all. There may even have been additional legal threats made against other breakaway owners.

The Silverbacks have been generally silent about their involvement in the move to the NASL (not to be confused with the pro league that went by the same name from 1968 to 1984). That was the case well before the lawsuit filing on Wednesday. Silverbacks president Boris Jerkunica notified Atlanta Soccer News that he was traveling out of the country and could not comment until next week at the earliest.

That response is similar to previous requests for comment by ASN. Jerkunica did say in early November that “we are putting plans together as we speak” about preparing to compete in 2010.

The current franchise holder for a USL First Division team in Atlanta belongs to the same NuRock organization that sponsored a team in the USL’s Professional Development Soccer League last summer.

The Silverbacks also have not clarified the status of their women’s team, which has been competing in the USL’s amateur W-League and last summer reached that league’s playoffs.

The Silverbacks joined the NASL breakaway league after several years of being disenchanted with the way the Tampa-based USL conducted its operations. Jerkunica’s longest statement to date on the fiasco was issued in early November:

“For ten years, the Atlanta Silverbacks played under the umbrella of a third-party owned league.  To put it simply, it just didn’t work. The long-term view of the team owners did not align with the short term view of the third-party league owners. Because of this, the Atlanta Silverbacks decided to drop out from USL-1 in 2009. We are pleased to be part of a new league that will be owned and operated by the team owners as required by FIFA.”

For the moment, there doesn’t appear to be any expedient manner of resolving a growing legal fight that could threaten the start of the North American soccer season next spring. The fate of both leagues could very well be on the line.

December 9, 2009   7 Comments

Silverbacks officially join breakaway league

The Atlanta Silverbacks are one of six First Division organizations in the United Soccer Leagues that announced on Tuesday they have formed a separate league and filed for formal recognition from the United States Soccer Federation and the Canadian Soccer Association.

Boris Jerkunica, the Silverbacks chairman, sent me this release and commented succinctly:

“Here is the result of three years of work.”

He told me he “can’t comment on things right now beyond what is in the press release.” I asked him if the Silverbacks — who didn’t compete in 2009 in part because of disagreements with USL management — will field a team for the 2010 season. Jerkunica would say only that “we are putting plans together as we speak.”

The other organizations involved in the Team Owners Association (TOA) consortium include the Carolina RailHawks, Miami FC, Minnesota Thunder, Montreal Impact, St. Louis Soccer United and the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are bound for Major League Soccer in 2011 but will field a second-division squad in the yet-unnamed new league.

Late Tuesday afternoon the USL — whose purchase by the Atlanta-based NuRock Soccer Holdings Inc. this summer led to the breakaway threat — issued a statement saying it opposes the TOA’s application:

“. . . on the grounds that that there is misrepresentation, interference with USL business operations and substantial debt amongst the membership of the parties applying for certification.”

The USL did not elaborate on those points but defended its ownership model — a major bone of contention with Jerkunica and the other TOA parties — and said it will undergo “upcoming reforms” that also were not specified.

Inside Minnesota Soccer has been on top of the league-wide story all along and has all the goods.

Here’s what I’ve been blogging on the subject over the last few months.

November 10, 2009   No Comments

With season over, fate of USL at stake

Kartik Krishnaiyer reports today that the breakaway threat involving several United Soccer Leagues owners — including the Atlanta Silverbacks in something called The Ownership Association — is looking more likely.

Among the developments: Even some Professional Development League owners are unhappy with USL management, and further fractures in the developmental system of North American soccer could result.

Also, the new Atlanta-based owners of the USL system, whose purchase from Nike led to the breakaway threat after years of disenchantment, don’t appear to have satisfied the essential complaints about the organization:

NuRock Soccer Holdings, it is confirmed to us by multiple sources has a management plan for USL which does have some new wrinkles to the old operating procedures of the league. However, these changes we are told do not address the numerous, articulated concerns of the TOA.

Silverbacks president Boris Jerkunica told Atlanta Soccer News recently that serious machinations are continuing, but he wouldn’t elaborate.

Whether there will be organized men’s soccer of any kind in Atlanta — either with the Silverbacks or a PDL franchise run by NuRock last season — is among the unanswered questions apparently being sorted out.

October 19, 2009   1 Comment