The United Soccer Leagues informed its member clubs of a proposed agreement with Major League Soccer that would provide for an integrated third division/MLS reserve league. Some interplay is expected to begin in 2013, with full integration of the plan coming in 2014.
That’s part of it, the rest of it:
The details as understood are:
1. If an MLS city has a USLPRO team nearby, MLS will provide 5 players and pay their salary.
2. If there’s no USLPRO team, the MLS reserve side will become a new, permanent team in USLPRO.
3. All USLPRO teams will have an MLS affiliate.
Man…there is only positive to come from this. This could also help the NASL get that much stronger too.
Here’s the teams involved:
- Chicago Fire
- Columbus Crew
- DC United
- Houston Dynamo
- Montreal Impact
- New England Revolution
- New York Red Bulls
- Philadelphia Union
- Sporting KC
- Toronto FC
- CD Chivas USA
- Colorado Rapids
- FC Dallas
- LA Galaxy
- Portland Timbers
- Real Salt Lake
- San Jose Earthquakes
- Seattle Sounders
- Vancouver Whitecaps
- NY2*** — the potential new MLS team in New York whenever it happens
- Antigua Barracuda
- Charleston Battery
- Charlotte Eagles
- Dayton Dutch Lions
- Harrisburg City Islanders
- LA Blues
- Orlando City
- Pittsburgh Riverhounds
- Phoenix FC
- Richmond Kickers
- Rochester Rhinos
- VSI Tampa Bay FC
- Wilmington Hammerheads
- Sacramento*** — will be joining in 2014
Now, it will be interesting to see how all these reserve unions shake out. Some are obvious:
- Columbus Crew and Dayton Dutch Lions
- LA Galaxy and LA Blues
Then there are some that will be head scratchers to combine with:
- Antigua Barracuda
- Phoenix FC
Then you have some that may make sense:
- Toronto FC and Rochester Rhinos
- DC United and Richmond Kickers
It’ll be interesting to see who the Philadelphia Union choose to partner with — Harrisburg City Islanders (which makes sense) OR Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Who do you partner Charlotte, Orlando, Wilmington, Tampa, and Charleston with? I imagine San Jose and Sacramento will partner when Sacramento joins in 2014. I imagine we may be seeing more USL teams coming into the league to make this integration fully integrated.
There are MANY MLS teams that will not benefit much from a partnership with some USL clubs, it just doesn’t make logical sense to partner Seattle with anyone. Portland? Houston or FC Dallas? Colorado? Sporting KC? Nope, none of them will benefit. Unless all they are looking for is to expand their market, then okay. They know they won’t get anyone from Tampa Bay to come to a home FC Dallas match though.
I really hope that the MLS clubs still hold on to a reserve team while still supplying USL clubs with players. It’d offer that many more opportunities to play. You have 13 (soon 14) USL clubs and 19 (soon to be 20 MLS clubs). That could potentially be a chance of having 34 quality clubs playing in a reserve league together. The quality of play will be nice. There’s no doubt that the USL clubs can compete with MLS sides, let alone their reserves.
There were 3 USL clubs in the final eight of the 2012 US Open Cup (Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions, and Harrisburg City Islanders). The Rochester Rhinos are the only USL side to win a US Open Cup.
There will be more to this story as more unfolds. Good for this happening though. It only strengthens American soccer.