Would you look at that map? Here we are, one week into the 'launch' of American Soccer Clubs United, and there are forty two teams that have joined up from coast to coast and north to south. I'd say it's a really solid start and shows the desire of teams to work together, make their voices heard, and help each other thrive and become sustainable.
To be clear, this last week hasn't been all smooth sailing. For every club eager to sign up, we've had a club that's voiced concerns or had questions over the initial thrust of the ASCU to unite clubs for an open system, and have even been met with stone cold silence from teams that have voiced support of some of the issues ASCU was created to help clubs address.
Now, if you're one of the forty teams that has joined already, once again, welcome! Glad you're with us. You'll be receiving detailed material from us later today about what we hope to see ASCU become, as dictated by the member clubs.
For those who haven't signed up or are still thinking it over, I want to make things a little clearer for you. ASCU exists to serve the best interests of it's member clubs, as dictated by the clubs. This isn't simply an attempt to throw weight behind the promotion and relegation movement, but an attempt to give teams a united front to push for change and reform in the areas they deem important. Could be promotion and relegation, could be more of voice in league affairs, or more input in decisions that are being made by the USASA or even USSF. ASCU is designed to become a member driven vehicle to whatever end its members see fit to drive it to. Not only that, but because of its size vendors can be brought on as business members offering clubs discounted services because of the potential client pool. And who doesn't want cheaper stuff so more money can go into the club?
As it stands, we have forty two member clubs representing over one thousand players, coaches, administrators, staff members, volunteers and owners. That's a pretty big deal. No one has ever tried to get teams collaborating on such a large scale. Let's keep going. Regardless of how the promotion and relegation fight goes, ASCU will still be here, working to give clubs a fair shot at sustainability.
Will you join us?
As I'm sure everyone has noticed, there have been some major events in US Soccer over the last couple of days. I don't want to recap what has already been said or add my opinion to the sea of opinions (though I do have one), but instead I want to address another event that happened yesterday that is slowly but surely gaining steam. First, a little history.
Earlier this summer, I started talking with American Soccer United about several different projects, chief among them the idea for a US Open Cup Fan Prize to the amateur team that progresses the furthest. (By the way, if 1,000 people donated $5, which just happens to be how many people read the blog last week, we'd raise $5,000 to give to Christos FC. That's $3 less then the cost of one month of basic Netflix)
One other idea was American Soccer Clubs United. In my day job, I work with a lot of business associations. Groups of businesses who have come together and become members under some kind of acronym, like BSCAI. These associations are able to do several things. They provide a united front and voice for their members to push for their best interests. This includes lobbying and and vendor deals. They use their collective strength to get discounted goods and services from companies that offer what members need.
Thus the idea was born for American Soccer Clubs United. Yesterdays news did speed up the process significantly, but that's not a bad thing. ASCU provides an avenue for clubs to join together and make their voices heard, beginning with support for Dennis Crowley and Ricardo Silva's push for CAS to force the USSF to open the soccer pyramid. Every verified club owner/manager who joins is added to a master list of teams that can be used to show the promotion and relegation movement has many, many interested parties. It's time to go beyond Twitter hashtags and graphics and unite voices.
As the ASCU grows, we're going to start talking with vendors and leverage the strength of our collective members to get discounted goods and services on everything from jerseys and merchandise to insurance and media, including many more ways to benefit lower division & league clubs ad a whole.
This is a serious thing we're working on to improve the game of soccer at the lower levels in the United States. If you want to read the ASCU Mission Statement, click Here. If you work for/run a club in the lower levels, from D2 down to a County League, click Here to join.
I'd also like to issue a hearty Welcome to the following Clubs who have joined ASCU since just yesterday afternoon when this was launched.
Bearfight FC - Delaware
Lowcountry United - South Carolina
Gold Coast Inter FC - Florida
Oakland Pamperos - California
Western Nevada FC - Nevada
Biloxi City FC - Mississippi
Santa Ana Winds FC - California
Sante Fe Wanderers FC - Kansas
Sports Identity FC - Massachusetts
FC Santa Clarita - California
Frontier FC - New York
Club Toledo - Ohio
LK St Clair - Michigan
Motorik FC Alexandria - Virginia
The Valley FC - California
Oakland County FC - Michigan
FC Denver - Colorado
Boston Siege - Massachusetts
Muskegon Risers - Michigan
DeKalb County United - Illinois
Los Angeles Wolves - California
This post has been edited to reflect the recent collapse and exposure of CSL USA as a scam. If you are interested in the league or a talking with them, stop immediately.
Friday has come again, which means a slow work day for me and a new article for you to read. Before you get into this one, I would recommend reading 'Part 1,' the original One League To Rule Team All article. There have been some fascinating changes for the PDL and NPSL, both in terms of cost and number of teams. It will make for a great place to start before you dive into what's ahead, providing context for what you are about to read.
If you have already read 'Part 1,' good job! You've been with AP for the long haul! Go ahead and read on, faithful follower.
On Sunday, as I attempted to do a bit of work that needed finishing, I used the wonders of browser tabs to also watch live coverage of Bearfight FC’s match against Lower Bucks County United in their first match in their home city of Wilmington, DE (courtesy of the good people at Non League America).
The fact that I was watching an amateur friendly football match from the United States at that time at a weekend probably says much more about my social life than I care to admit, but after finding out that a live YouTube stream would be up and running I just had to catch some of the game.
First attempts at watching the feed were not overly successful with what seemed to be tests carried out in the (phone) camera person’s car. But when I returned a little later it was working properly and I connected just in time for a Bearfight equaliser. I know that it was a Bearfight goal as the person filming the match told me. The stream itself was not the greatest quality in the world – but that didn’t matter.
Watching football through a phone camera on the other side of the world is never going to be HD standard and, although I would have loved to watch the match in person, I didn’t really care that I couldn’t always make out what was happening. One of the main reasons why I have been so interested in clubs like Bearfight FC is their whole ethos. The idea that “we should stream the match live” is the important factor here.
I watch non-league football in the UK and don’t kid myself that it is the best football on offer. But I do know that I may well see something so amazing – good or bad – that it will make up for all the terrible football on show. I also appreciate that there are people invested enough to keep clubs of limited stature going – and the fans that make it possible.
It seems to be a very exciting time for the equivalent of non-league football in America (although with the set up over there the term doesn’t really work). Small clubs, formed by football fans promoting the sport and community involvement is what makes what they are doing so important.
I’m not going to lie and say the main thing that initially attracted me to the club wasn’t their frankly awesome name. But discovering more about the people behind the scenes – and their fans - has been immensely worthwhile.
Bearfight ended up drawing 3-3 on Sunday and I look forward to future live streaming of games. I might have to miss out on the post-match tacos and beer but as long as the coverage is there I will be too.