USL To Merge First and Second Divisions in 2011

USL To Merge First and Second Divisions in 2011

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On September 8, 2010
  • 10 Comments
  • USL Pro

The new USL PRO league. (Image borrowed from uslsoccer.com)

File this in the “it didn’t shock me” category. The United Soccer League announced today that they would be merging their first and second divisions next year to become the new USL PRO division, a second division under Major League Soccer in the American soccer pyramid.

It sounds like this new USL could be possibly more aligned with MLS in terms of player development.

Team owners and league officials are meeting in Tampa, Florida today to lay the groundwork for the 2011 debut of USL PRO, which will be governed by team owners and present the highest level of competition in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean outside of Major League Soccer (MLS).

USL PRO is a national league featuring a regional competition model to build natural rivalries and reduce travel-related costs. The U.S. Soccer Federation-affiliated league benefits from the leadership of the dedicated and experienced professional staff at USL’s Tampa headquarters as well as the developmental support of USL’s proven and integrated system of leagues.

USL PRO will consist of as many as four geographic regions in 2011. Teams scheduled to compete in USL PRO in 2011 will be announced in the coming weeks.

My guess on who will be in this USL PRO league looks something like this:

Austin Aztex, Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Harrisburg City Islanders, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Real Maryland Monarchs, Richmond Rickers, and at least three potential expansions teams in Orlando, San Antonio, and possibly Phoenix.

Now I’m purely speculating over the three expansion teams and that fact that all the USL-2 teams will join the PRO league next year. Its very possible that the USL will move some of their Premier Development League teams up as well. More than likely the Dayton Dutch Lions will be a D-2 team in this new model next year as well.

I like the idea of breaking up the league into different geographical locations to reduce travel costs and what not. How they actually go about doing it will be interesting to see. I think it will also be interesting to see how the US Open Cup is laid out for next year with the USL and NASL splitting for good here.

This news comes after last week’s announcement that the NASL would be submitting their bid for the 2011 season to the USSF with 10 teams. The teams in the proposed NASL would be the Carolina RailHawks, the Puerto Rico Islanders, the Montreal Impact, the FC Tampa Bay Rowdies, Miami FC Blues, the Rochester Rhinos, NSC Minnesota Stars, Crystal Palace Baltimore, AC St. Louis and FC Edmonton, an expansion franchise.

So which league will thrive more? This new USL model or the NASL?

  • Aaron

    And what of the new Caribbean team announced late spring, Barracuda FC?

    http://www.uslsoccer.com/home/432974.html

    • Ah, totally forgot about that team. That’s just one more piece to the puzzle.

  • reddevilyank

    Neither. We need a proper pyramid with one top flight soccer league and a respectable second division if American soccer wants to grow.

  • CVO

    Don’t count Rochester in the NASL just yet. Their owner is on the fence about returning to the USL.

  • CVO

    Don’t count Rochester in the NASL just yet. Their owner is on the fence about returning to the USL.

    • Also don’t sleep on Puerto Rico in NASL yet either…I’m getting the sense they could return to the USL as well.

    • Also don’t sleep on Puerto Rico in NASL yet either…I’m getting the sense they could return to the USL as well.

  • Ralphie

    What about USSF’s new D2 reqs? Almost none of USL’s teams meet them. Drew, I think your thinking NASL vs. USL too much here. I think USL is just prettying up their D3 league for next year. NASL looks to be the D2.

    • You’re probably right about that. USL isn’t going to say that they’re D2 but they’ll be more like D3…but then again I’m not so sure NASL gets D2 sanction here either.

  • nick price

    USL PRO will feature a Board of Governors responsible for making all major decisions for the league including expansion, competition format and commercial strategy. The league will focus on aggressive but deliberate growth by adding teams fully capable of meeting USL and USSF standards which are located in markets that further promote regional league play.