Evening Links and Thoughts: USL Hardball

Evening Links and Thoughts: USL Hardball

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On November 5, 2009
  • TOA, USL, USL Expansion

Yesterday out at the Nike headquarters in Oregon the USL first division owners got together for a little meeting. It turns out the group does know how to play some hardball with the other group of owners known as the TOA who are planning to start their own league.

The USL called it a new era for the league, especially the first division. From the sound of things they are banking heavily on some expansion in the coming year to make up for the losses of clubs like Miami, Montreal, and Minnesota to name a few. Last night they announced expansion plans in cities like Detroit and Baltimore as well as a couple Canadian cities to make up for the losses of Vancouver and Montreal.

I think the move to get a couple Canadian cities on board was going to happen regardless of the TOA thing. Losing Vancouver to MLS in a couple years and potentially Montreal really put pressure on the USL to get more Canadian clubs back in the league. Adding Ottawa and Edmonton seem like a good idea on the surface, especially when you think Ottawa failed as a MLS expansion bid.

Detroit and Baltimore are big cards in the USL’s hands. Getting Detroit is a big time thing that should make up for losing some small markets like Minnesota and Carolina. What the USL did by bringing in Detroit and Baltimore wasn’t just new cities in the top division it was expanding it’s TV map to bigger markets. You can’t tell me trading Carolina and Minnesota in for Detroit and Baltimore isn’t a big win for the USL in this on-going battle with the TOA.

Others on hand at the meeting were new clubs that will join next year in Tampa and New York. Sure New York is a shared TV market with its MLS brother but it is still a big market to have in the league no matter what. Tampa as we all know carries a big name in the Rowdies, which should help in some ways. Tampa being at these meetings kind of signals that they have made peace with the USL and are possibly done with the TOA. Seeing Tampa make peace with the USL really hurts the TOA right now.

Right now for the TOA it comes down to what Carolina, Miami and Minnesota are going to do. We know Vancouver and Montreal have MLS in their sights as it is so going with the TOA would really be just for a single season or two for Montreal.

People need to not worry how the USL will move forward from this whole TOA issue because with this news they certainly have. Something tells me this mess with the TOA is long from being over but don’t be shocked to see at least Carolina and Minnesota come back to the USL. Miami seems like a wildcard in all of this but at the end of the day if they lose another club in their little party it will pretty much mean the end of things for the TOA.

The time is now for the TOA to make their move but what that move will be is going to be interesting. I think the longer they wait to act the tougher it gets for them.