What has been ongoing for months became public knowledge yesterday, thanks to a Canadian report. The United Soccer Leagues is for sale. As someone who has been aware of this fact since March, it’s a little disappointing to see a leak occur as the transaction nears completion.

I have been privy to many off the record discussions, on this issue since March and they will remain for now, off the record. When the sale is complete, we will have a full accounting at this site of the timeline along with our partners and friends at Inside Minnesota Soccer, who do perhaps the finest job of reporting on the USL related matters.

I have my theories as to why this leak occurred. But that again, is for another time.

I do not believe MLS will submit a bid anywhere near what is required to purchase USL, which after all is a league with over 120 professional and semi professional teams, as well as a comprehensive, national youth structure. Even more worrying is what MLS would do with the league if they did somehow manage to get their hands on it.

What does bother me isn’t MLS bidding on USL: it is certainly their right to do so, and I am sure the USSF has encouraged them to bring the entire professional structure of US and Canadian Soccer under one umbrella. What is troubling is the reaction of some MLS fans, some of which it can be assumed are the same fans that accuse anyone who doesn’t watch the league or have passing knowledge of the league as snobs.

Let me be frank on this point: I do not believe anyone who does not watch MLS, should comment on the league’s quality or possible shortcomings. Many statements we see written about MLS in both the European and American press are written out of pure ignorance.

But it is appalling that some of the same people that correctly label ignorance of MLS as disrespect, show the same sort of attitude towards the USL.

Some examples:


This is a classic. Pick off certain USL-1 markets, shut down the rest of the league and presumably let the youth system and PDL die for the sake of unity.

MLS needs to up its bid. They need to get USL and then either out the league out of business or keep the 11 teams as a feeder league.

USL falling in the hands of a specific investors needs to be blocked by the USSF. It is not in the interest of American or Canadian soccer.

I happen to know who is bidding for USL, but cannot reveal it here. But without knowing who is bidding, this message board poster has made the leap of faith to say the “specific investors” he refers to are not in the interest of the American or Canadian game.


The sooner USL is gone the quicker MLS can get to maybe 22 teams and not worry about competition from a pesky, illegitimate upstart who should never have been allowed to enter business to begin with.

What does USL have now, 11 teams. We’re taking 2 in 2011 and probably 1 or 2 more in 2012, so they don’t have much life anyhow, but let’s kill them now.

The fact that the forerunner leagues of USL are older than MLS is lost on this ignorant poster. For example, the Minnesota Thunder was in business eight years before the Chicago Fire. Both organizations were built up largely due to the efforts of the same legendary man, Peter Wilt.

But I digress. “pesky, illegitimate upstart,” is absolute ignorance of the highest order. If a European writer, let’s say Martin Samuel, were to refer to MLS as a “upstart league without any reason to exist,” he’d rightly be taken to task by many of us, including myself. I wrote an article to the Times, Samuel’s employer in 2007 about his rough handed treatment of MLS, which of course never got a reply.

Another point: USL does not have 11 teams, but close to 120. Many MLS fans continue to forget USL’s real value comes from its structure, its pyramid, not necessarily its top division. Confusing these two things leads to ignorant and quite frankly insulting postings like the one above.

I hate USL teams more than the Mexican teams. It defeats the purpose to have a second league in this country. What other country allows a competitive league?

I am distressed to read that investors want to try and keep it out of MLS hands.

It is about time the two divisions were merged with relegation/promotion within the 26 teams.

Gulati and Garber please make this happen!

This message is so illogical and insulting; it is not worth commenting on.

Why does PDL exists anyway? Amateur summer soccer? How stupid. No one goes. MLS should fold up the PDL and keep USL-1/2 as MLS-2 with NO pro/rel. MLS would control the player rights and if MLS teams need new players they can take it from the MLS-2 team with no compensation. That will make the league stronger and probably more competitive from top to bottom than any league in Europe.

Tell Charlie Davies it was stupid. Tell Jay DeMerit it was stupid. Tell Heath Pearce it was stupid. Tell Anton Peterlin it was stupid. Tell Marcus Tracy it was stupid. Tell Jonathan Spector who went to Man U after leaving the Chicago Fire’s excellent USL based youth program it was stupid. While we’re at it, why don’t we call all these players stupid for skipping MLS after playing in PDL and going to Europe.

Thankfully, I assume Don Garber wouldn’t fold up the PDL in the highly unlikely case MLS got control of USL. The other points in this poster’s rant speak for themselves and I am sure the vast majority of MLS Talk readers will find them as offensive as did.

I post these messages not to simply bash fans of Major League Soccer, but to point out many American soccer fans that get hostile to those they claim do not follow the game in their own country, seem to have some of the same issues.  While I doubt that these ridiculous posts represent the majority of supproters of MLS, they do represent an unhealthy minority that needs to be educated before they speak.

Whether or not MLS gains control of USL (again, from what I know, this is highly unlikely) is not the issue. The issue is the desire of some MLS fans to confuse what is good for MLS business wise, with what is good for American soccer.