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Leagues: MLS

New Teams For The USL


I guess some would look at this as a continuation of the war of press releases between the United Soccer Leagues and the Team Owners Association, but nonetheless it’s still news.

According to the press release the USL First Division will move forward next year without the member clubs of the TOA, though Tampa seems to be on-board with the USL despite flirting with TOA over the last few months. The one thing that sticks out to me is the inclusion of Edmonton. Some of you may remember when the Aviators played in the old A-League, the ownership had — whimsically — expected crowds in excess of 10,000 but ended up getting crowds of around 2,500. A lot of that had to do with the venue, the cavernous Commonwealth Stadium, which was only available to the club on three weekends because the CFL’s Eskimos — rightfully — had priority scheduling. Eventually the owners simply walked away from the thing and dropped it in the USL’s lap, the USL ended up running it on a shoestring budget — even by their standards — as the renamed “Edmonton FC” as the owner’s took the name with the — good luck having any success with it in the future — and played out the season at a much smaller stadium in Edmonton, where attendance actually managed to improve. Though some polka dance-offs in Medicine Hat probably outdrew the Aviators in truth.

This isn’t a slight at Edmonton, it’s actually a decent soccer city, but following a failure that spectacular it gives you the impression that the USL was pretty hard-pressed to replace Vancouver as a presence in Western Canada.

Earlier we reported on the expansion to Ottawa. It’s really hard to see anything wrong with expansion to Ottawa, it’s a good location for the USL and even though some fans in the Canadian capital had designs on Major League Soccer, that’s not going to happen. They could end up having a good rivalry with Rochester, and the USL is going to miss the passion that the Rochester-Montreal rivalry brought to the league.

One can only assume that Baltimore is represented by Crystal Palace USA, there has been a lot of talk about them getting a stadium in Baltimore finally after playing in the County and out at Navy for a few years. They’re  a strong team, and Baltimore is a good soccer city which would benefit the USL in many ways.

This is the first I’ve heard of a team in Detroit unless it’s the Michigan Bucks, a long-time citidel of the PDL. It’s an interesting move, and again could form a rivalry with Ottawa.

I do see this as good news for soccer in North America. The bickering between the USL and TOA has really left me a bit disillusioned with the lower league game here, but more opportunities for young players to get competitive matches is a good thing, particularly for Canada where professional opportunities are very much at a premium. That said, the USL isn’t much better than the K3 as-far-as expansion goes, so we’ll just have to wait and see. If the bickering continues, we’re certainly in for an eventful winter.

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  1. dan

    November 6, 2009 at 1:21 am

    if i were the MLS i would grab the clubs that just left and work out a deal that would allow them to join the MLS. Say like Creating a Reserve League where the young inexperienced players would play these teams. The Breakaway USL teams would work there way into the MLS and While there waiting in the Reserve League they can get their Stadiums built.

  2. chuck

    November 6, 2009 at 12:17 am

    USL is building a house of cards to its own detriment. It is losing it most profitable clubs – its only profitable clubs – to the MLS. The remaining owners with any sense see the writing on the wall: MLS will continue to snatch up any profitable market while the USL does nothing to develop its own brand or give its top level teams any reason to stay united; so they bolt in an attempt to create a credible Division I. USL pretends to fill that gap by promoting a bunch of Division III teams to Division I. Nobody with any sense will support the USL Division I any more because they have demonstrated NO interest in building a quality league. Fans in Charleston, Tampa, Austin, everywhere should be writing their team DEMANDING they join the TOA.

  3. ERic

    November 5, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Haven’t heard anything from San Antonio since the Spurs insisted they needed a stadium first. Look for the Crocketteers website to see the latest news.

  4. dan

    November 5, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    any word on the rumored San Antonio Franchise bid.

  5. Charles

    November 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    That has to be bad news for Vancouver, including the stadium, really up in the air before joining the MLS a year and a half.
    A shame, it better work out, I have been waiting for the Sounders to beat them for a whole year now.

  6. Pro

    November 5, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Where are Whitecaps and Impact going to play? I have paid for my season ticks with Caps in advance for what?

    • Bobby Brandon

      November 5, 2009 at 2:01 pm

      Probably the theoretical TOA league. That said, it got weaker without Tampa.

  7. ERic

    November 5, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Well, at least the USL doesn’t have a logo like the K3.

    And, yes, I expect it is the Bucks. There has been occasional info in the past year in the Big Soccer Detroit thread that they’ve been looking at going USL1. But it went silent for a long time so who knows exactly what that means.

  8. James

    November 5, 2009 at 8:34 am

    From what I saw this year, the Rochester-Montreal rivalry is nowhere near where it was even 3 or 4 years ago. Montreal came to town and there just didn’t seem to be as much dislike between the two teams as there has been in the past.

    Even the Rochester-Carolina rivalry took a huge step back with the RailHawks no longer being run by Rhino ex-pats Chris Economides & Scott Schweitzer.

    I hope the Rhinos can perhaps get a good rivalry going with Puerto Rico given that the Islanders have knocked the Rhinos out of the playoffs in 2008 & 2009.

  9. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    November 5, 2009 at 7:48 am

    My thoughts on the same matter can be found here:

    Good stuff as always Bobby, and we are very glad to have you back blogging!

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