This deal has been rumored for some time now. But now the deal is finally set for Major League Soccer and it’s 19 clubs to have a formal partnership with their lower tier brother in the USL-Pro.
For 2013, the partnership will include interleague play between USL PRO and MLS Reserve League teams, and the establishment of several exclusive team affiliations.
“This partnership represents the first step in a long-term alliance between MLS and USL PRO to connect domestic professional soccer through a system that benefits player development, competition and the overall business of our sport,” MLS Executive Vice President of Player Relations & Competition Todd Durbin said. “Over the past several years, USL PRO has made great strides in restructuring in a manner that serves to complement the objectives of MLS. This is a win-win for all involved and it demonstrates our strong commitment to growing North American professional soccer at all levels.”
Those MLS teams with formal USL PRO affiliates will not participate in the 2013 MLS Reserve League. Neither MLS nor USL PRO clubs are required to enter into an affiliation, and specific affiliations will be announced in the coming days.
We do know that Philadelphia and Harrisburg City are one of the exclusive affiliates. New England and Rochester are also said to be another. Sporting KC and Orlando City have struck a deal as well. I’d imagine one of the LA clubs will get partnered up with the LA Blues while D.C. United and the Richmond Kickers form a deal as well.
Each of the 13 USL PRO teams will compete in two interleague games against MLS Reserve teams. With the exception of Antigua, which will play both of its games at MLS Reserve teams, USL PRO teams have been paired with a single MLS team to play a home and home series. All interleague games will count in both the official USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings.
Once more details trickle out in the coming days I’ll have them for you here. This is certainly a BIG development for the US game.