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NASL to skip spring season, switch to European calendar

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The North American Soccer League will skip its spring season following the U.S. Soccer Federation's decision to revoke its provisional second-tier status.

The NASL said on Monday it plans to shift to the international calendar of August-May seasons, pending the outcome of its appeal in its lawsuit against the USSF. After the second-tier status was denied, the NASL filed an antitrust suit against the USSF in federal court in Brooklyn.

The NASL was denied a request for a preliminary injunction on Nov. 4. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Dec. 15, with a ruling to come.

"Due to the decision of the United States Soccer Federation to revoke the NASL's Division II sanctioning, the NASL will be unable to operate the 2018 Spring Season," a league statement said.

"The NASL and its member clubs believe that a shift to the international calendar will bring another level of excitement to fans and offer greater development opportunities for players and clubs across the country."

NASL plans to start its season Aug. 11 with seven teams, with two new California clubs in Fullerton and San Diego joining the Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC, New York Cosmos and Puerto Rico FC.

However, Soc Takes reported on Monday that the Indy Eleven plans to shift this season to the second-tier United Soccer League, which has closer ties to the top-tier Major League Soccer.

And Jacksonville owner Robert Palmer said after the NASL's announcement that he was in talks with a number of lower-division leagues to ensure his club plays in the spring.

And San Diego 1904 FC president Bob Watkins told the San Diego Union-Tribune his club "most likely" wouldn't begin playing until early 2019, when its new stadium in completed -- a move which could also lead to the club joining USL instead.

Since the end of last season, NASL champions San Francisco Deltas have folded, as have FC Edmonton amid plans for a new Canadian league, while North Carolina FC moved to the USL.

The status of Puerto Rico FC, owned by NBA star Carmelo Anthony, is also in doubt after damage to its stadium caused by Hurricane Maria and the release of many players.

"We find ourselves in a difficult position due to the federation's decision and the impact that decision has had on our players, fans, and front office members is unfortunate," NASL interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal said.

"That said, we believe the change to a fall-to-spring format will be very exciting for American soccer as it will better align the NASL with the best soccer in the world."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.