New USL-breakway league remains likely

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With talks at a stand-still between the Team Owners Association and Nurock Soccer Holdings, new owners of USL, the chances of a breakaway league led by numerous USL 1 clubs next year is looking more and more likely. Vancouver and Montreal became the latest teams to reportedly sever ties with USL this week, and are part of the group looking to start a new league.

“We’re trying to set up our own league and that process is still ongoing,” Bob Lenarduzzi, president of the Whitecaps told Metronews.ca. Details of what that league would specifically look like have yet to be revealed, but the intentions of clubs like Montreal and Vancouver is to set up a new league, approved by USSF that they would have more control over.

Vancouver is set to join MLS in 2011 and wouldn't benefit from taking a year off before becoming a part of MLS. Their departure (and Montreal's) have yet to be confirmed, but speculation continues to swirl about a new league. The whole situation is much more about the boardroom politics than about soccer, as the aggrieved owners want to have a bigger say in the league.

What do you think about the latest news of Vancouver and Montreal splitting off from USL? Surprised? Don't particularly care? What would another league look like?

Share your thoughts below.

  • otergod

    i would still like to see TOA and MLS work closer together….

    the fact that Vancouver and Montreal are looking to sever ties with USL should point out that the connection between the two (TOA and MLS) should be apparent.

    TOA met with MLS officials some months ago, no news leaked. However, the fact that Vancouver supports TOA and is set to join MLS in 2011 and Montreal has been a big voice in moving to MLS kind of has me wondering if this isnt the decision anyhow.

    close workings with MLS, TOA can use some of the resources to start a new fresh league. MLS can have a couple player slots in each team to loan youthful prospects so they get PT. TOA wins b/c you dont have to compete with MLS by focusing on non-MLS cities. and it leaves the door open for other things as well


  • J-deezy

    We need 2 leagues that can work with each other. USL and MLS don’t thus you don’t have very many players being loaned when they should be. Not having a reserve league wouldn’t matter near as much, and PLUS teams would benefit from a financial stand point. Im sure a ton of teams in USL would have loved to have players such as Brek Shea for a season, and Im sure Shea would have loved the playing time. If EPL teams can send players to Championship or even League 1 sides, why shouldn’t MLS??


  • Ben

    I completely agree with otergod. I have a friend who plays for the Impact and I’d really like to see the TOA and MLS work something out together.

    It would be really hard for the US to have 3 competing pro soccer leagues if the TOA doesn’t work together with the MLS. If the intention is to create the best atmosphere for developing quality players the best thing would be like ostergod mentions where mls could loan out younger players.


  • Ed

    This article isn’t entirely accurate. Yes, USL has broken off negotiations with the TOA as a group. However, the league is continuing to negotiate with certain teams, most notably Vancouver and Montreal. Saputo has released statements saying he would like to stay with USL.

    Without Vancouver and Montreal, a breakaway league would be doomed. Minnesota has no money and has been late paying players all season. Miami struggles to get even 1,000 people to a game.


  • kirk

    I would think that the prospect of 2 cornerstone teams leaving a new league for mls might scare off potential new teams, unless….. those teams commited to fielding a “reserve team” in the newly formed league. If it could be worked out to have mls teams also field tehir reserve teams in this league they ight be on to something. It would be really great if the NCAA adopt their proposed rule change allowing college athelets to compete on teams with paid pro’s thus allowing some MLS Academy players to be added to reserve team rosters. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=4579737


  • jrnail23

    I’m not really sure why the USSF would care about what happens to two Canadian teams


  • Scott E

    This seems like it could be the start of something great – like a new league on better terms with MLS. But I see Vancouver, Montreal and Portland as being core to any league, be it a revamped USL or something new entirely, and that seems too short-sighted to actually happen. How can a new league justify itself right now if at least two of its teams won’t be participating after next season? It’ll be a small league to begin with. Maybe the question is: What power do remaining clubs owners have when Portland and Vancouver are gone? And maybe Montreal? Or: What interest do club owners have in continuing a league that loses key members to the upper flight? I think: Inevitably MLS will have to stake some kind of claim or voice serious support for a second (sub) division to exist in the long-term.


  • art

    All I can say is I hope cooler heads prevail in this at some point and that we don’t lose teams and/or a league because of it. US Soccer history is littered with broken clubs and leagues and adding to that sad list is not a step in the right direction.


  • Pablo Chicago

    I find it somewhat ironic that the TOA wants to break away from USL because they want more say and control yet they have to seek approval from the 3-headed hydra that is The USSF/MLS/SUM to form a new league.

    If the TOA thought they were being micro managed before, wait until they try to set up something “Micro-Managers R US”.


  • Colin

    I think this was inevitable, what with Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver moving to the MLS. Sad to see the demise of the USL, but if it means a stronger MLS, then I’m all for it. Hopefully Montreal gets in the league and we can start looking at a minor league system.


  • kpugs

    This is probably just going to sound dumb, but I’d love to see MLS absorb Montreal, Vancouver, and Puerto Rico immediately. Free expansion teams!


  • zaggy

    Portland can’t bail yet…they are legally required by the lease they have with the city to play in USL-1, unless the league stops (which it won’t). So unless the team gets a waiver from the city to go play in this new league, they will continue to be a USL team next year…


  • Hopper

    I think there definitely needs to be a second division league in North America, but I’m not impressed with how USL is run. I like the structure, with USL-1, USL-2 and the PDL, but there is absolutely no stability among any of the leagues. Teams are coming in and dropping out all the time. I was happy to see Seattle jump ship and come over to MLS, and can’t wait for Portland and Vancouver to do the same.

    Clearly, USL is doing something wrong.


  • TimN

    Well, what is TRULY needed is a single table MLS, with a promotion/relegation arrangement with USL, or whatever the new league would be called. That’s the only way you’ll ever see good player trades and loans. There are many USL players that can and should be playing in MLS, but loans are difficult because of all the existing administrative barriers.

    The other HUGE benefit to a single table system with promotion/relegation is that it serves to sustain attendance and fan interest toward the end of the season for clubs that are out of the championship picture.

    And yes, I know, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN…sigh


  • Dave's Football Blog

    Boo farm system! I do not want MLS turning my Railhawks into a AAA club for D.C. United. If there’s no autonomy among the TOA clubs, then what’s the point of them leaving USL?


  • lassidawg

    Maybe Portland would finally be able to win something if both Montreal and Vancouver were gone. 🙂


  • WeatherManNX01

    Saw this coming a mile off. The USL has slowly been eliminating these teams from the USL website (at last check in the “Clubs” section, the breakaway teams were still listed but would no longer take you to the teams’ webpages).

    I’m not sure I’d be able to support one league over the other. I think there is a valid point that the clubs should have more control of the league, but I’m not sure that a breakaway league is going to benefit anyone in the long-run.


  • WeatherManNX01

    Never gonna happen. As it is, FIFA is already being a pain in the ass about things like promotion and relegation. Having an MLS-owned or affiliated league in a lower division will just intensify that. That’s why MLS never bid on the USL in the first place.


  • RLW2020

    i know its easier said than done but.. the USL has lost some of its top assets to the MLS (Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, and maybe Montreal) in order to stay competitive they need to add some new powerful franchises. I know they have added Tampa, Austin and New York (right?) How about St. Louis, Atlanta, Ottawa, Omaha, San Diego, San Francisco or Indianapolis..

    The one thing the USL has done is create a hierarchy of US/CAN soccer clubs that are not quite MLS level, now keep doing it! Continue developing clubs/cities that are not quite ready for an MLS team. Once they are developed enough (Van, Portland, Montreal) they can sell (promote) their franchise to the next level. its kind of like a ”economic/business development promotion/relegation system”


  • DC Josh

    Good for the owners that want out. They want more control over their teams, they should do whatever they can to continue progressing.

    As for the farm system talk…

    It’s a basic structure of sports all across the world. In the US sports world, it’s typically high school<college<pros. In other countries it's youth academies and lower division clubs<higher division clubs. It's just the way the world of sports works. If there is no natural progression in small steps, then players are either A) not discovered or B) thrown into a situation they aren't ready for yet. The USL and lower division leagues under the MLS is vital to the growth of the soccer youth in America.

    P.S. Palermo is falling apart. Inter 3-0 43rd minute.


  • BrooklynFC

    Promotion Relegation would not work…. BUT a minor league system would be ideal and promotion relegation within that minor league system could work… so maybe that would satisfy Sepp Blatter. This would be able to solve lots of problem. Especially the no reserve league one….. MLS teams would each own a few Minor League Soccer teams. Those teams would bring in revenue so that will help pay for some of the salaries. It is a win win situation


  • Graeme Sandlin

    Y…A…W…N… nope. Don’t care. Wake me up when we stop pretending to have a world class league, whatever it may be called, and start making it one and I’ll jump right in. Until then, I’ll keep having my tapes sent overseas since entry level players make less than what I make sitting at my desk typing this.


  • Colin

    dude, you’re full of yourself. keep sending your tapes overseas. live the “dream” brother!


  • alex

    yeah, because the 300 and something thousand Zakuani is making is barely enough to play soccer!! Good luck have fun riding that european pine!


  • Jerome

    The biggest things that are preventing soccer from growing faster in this country are the strict laws of Title IX and the fact that our soccer heads are not unified. Breakaway league? Really. Goodl luck. (shakes head).


  • soccerdave

    A breakaway league is not what is needed. An MLS/USL partnership is what we need.

    The lack of player development is one of the things that continues to hamper soccer in the US.

    A relagation system, whatever merits it has, will never work here. (Look at our politics: if it’s European, it’s automatically bad.) A reasonable minor league system makes sense.

    The model works (generally) for hockey. It can work with soccer.


  • TimN

    The REAL problem with player development in the U.S. doesn’t have much to do with MLS or USL. The problem lies in the youth system and these ever growing and popular “select leagues.” Kids 9, 10, 11 years old are being put on “travel teams,” and their parents have to pay all the travel expenses, as well as often a $1000+ in league fees. That’s fine for the suburbanite family who can swing it, but the kids from the poorer neighborhoods who may be great soccer players can’t do that, so they never have the opportunity to develop. They end up leaving soccer and going to baseball, football, basketball, all those other sports here that have such greater access for “regular people.”


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