Major League Soccer

MLS unveils Reserve League Schedule

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Major League Soccer revealed its 95-match Reserve League schedule for the 2012 season on Monday.

The league's 19 teams will each play a ten-match reserve league schedule, giving young players and bench players more opportunities to play and develop their game over the course of the 2012 MLS season.

The MLS Reserve League is broken up into three divisions, with the team finishing with the most points among all 19 teams being declared champions.

Here are the divisional breakdowns:

Eastern: Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC

Central: Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City, Real Salt Lake

Western: Chivas USA, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The existence of the MLS Reserve League will not prevent teams from continuing to schedule reserve team friendlies throughout the year.


  • Mango

    Part of me wishes they wouldn’t declare a reserve league champion. That’s not the point of the reserve league and I’m afraid if team begin to focus on winning the reserve league, less attention will be paid to developing young talent.

    Just a thought.


  • adam

    good thought – could very easily have said the same thing about the league in general. ive said for a little while now that the league’s objectives have been shifting away from development to entertainment/competition – which is NOT a bad thing – which means one must be sacrificed. tough to find a delicate balance between the two but this is certainly a good step…so long as teams a) have deep enough rosters to compete (ahem NYRB) b) teams add to their 10-match schedule to ensure the kids keep pace. time will tell


  • chris

    I think it would be a good idea to drop the 10 game reserve league and put the teams in the NASL or any other 2nd division so they can play a full season against other professional players looking to progress.


  • Eric

    You would likely need USSF approval, as well as the the approval of the NASL/USL league itself to insert MLS reserve teams into those leagues. Besides the fact it certainly wouldn’t be a given that that request would be approved by USSF, I can see some of the NASL teams not wanting to have to compete against MLS reserve teams. As far as they’re concerned, playing reserve teams could be seen as an insult to their league.


  • Eurodude

    Most clubs get worried when their youth team start to dominate and are likely to investigate to make sure the coaches and players are not taking shortcuts. That way you don’t develop Tom Brady and Eli Manning (didn’t win in college; won five super bowls) instead of Tim Tebow or Vince Young (won titles in college; succeeded in the pros until the league caught up to them).


  • timothy

    It’s absolutely not enough games. I think the point is that each team should be scheduling reserve games with other opponents (likely local universities). But really, they should add NASL into the reserve league to increase the number of teams


  • The Imperative Voice

    I think it gives the games some punch to attach some meaning at the end. I also think it gives the assistants who may coach the reserves some skin in the game. Spencer in Portland made a reputation out of coaching Wondo and the Dynamo reserves to productivity and success (and Wondo is now Mr. Golden Boot competitor after being King of the Reserves), and even earned points in CCL with a reserve team playing in Central America. I think they actually need more games with more on the table so that the players do get a chance to develop and show what they have.

    I think getting games matters, and I think whether the coach is serious about development and using young talent matters. But I seriously doubt putting “money on the table” warps the incentives for a reserve league, because you would rather be on the first team anyway. I can’t see much of anyone going underdeveloped because in game 10 the reserve team has a title chance. I’d expect that die is cast in how practice after practice gets conducted, how players are talked to and used.


  • Air Jordanz

    That’s a great idea, but it might be hard to accomplish as probably half the reserve teamers are needed to man the bench for their squads and play minutes in other competitions (USOC, CCL).

    I would be in support of requiring each reserve team to play 5+ friendlies against either NCAA teams, NASL, or USL Pro teams.


  • The Imperative Voice

    I used to like the Project 40 idea (the GenAdi predecessor) — a team of leaguewide young players looking for a break essentially playing in the minors — and you could also move it closer to a true minor league situation and have affiliates.

    The concern about having regular teams against developmental teams is off in a couple ways. (A) Spain does it. Germany does it. Barca B plays whoever is in the league, it doesn’t have to be reserves. A veteran team might like their chances against U-25s/B teams. (B) PDL teams ostensibly for college-age development often field overage players or people not in college, eg, Felix Garcia at Laredo who has basically gone pro.

    And plus there is the reality that (C) NASL + USL are small enough where would they even cover every MLS team having an affiliate? I’m not sure anyone would be left to complain. You might have to establish new teams or elevate PDL franchises.

    I see the bigger issues on this as ownership and the 2 teams a year rule. My understanding is FIFA has treated a separate reserve squad in a different league as a separate team. So you have separate rosters and you can’t pull up a B team player for A team cover without carrying him on the A team (play or not) for the season. Which is where this would diverge from the England/MLS model of having a not-quite-separate team that is viewed as an extension of you just playing in an additional competition, where you can shift back and forth, give non-used-subs some work, etc.


  • Eric

    I understand that Chris, but I’m still saying that I don’t think it’s that simple. Soccer never is in the US. Just because it works in Germany and Spain doesn’t mean it’s able to be implemented here at this time. Just like Promotion and relegation, there may come a time for the idea to be implemented but perhaps not now.

    I can absolutely see NASL/USL owners not wanting to compete against MLS reserve teams in their league and they could deny the MLS teams the right to do so. Also, USSF would have to approve it as well and who knows how they would feel about.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, and in fact I think it’s a very good one for development of young players, but I’m just saying that I’m not sure it’s that easy to put in place.


  • The Imperative Voice

    In NCAA we had strict rules about how many competitions we could play in the regular and spring seasons. I’m not sure you can play pros in the fall and we had like 5 total competitions, tournaments + games, in the spring. And a team with 5 games is likely scheduling colleges for most of them, because getting your brains kicked in is not how to blood rookies and develop the team rapport.

    But I agree it’s not enough games, I presume a justification is cost-containment, some teams may not want to spend for 30 people to travel to every game, primary set for the real game but the rest for the reserves, etc. I assume that’s basically how it gets done and that drives travel costs up.

    To me, the way you defray the cost is make it a minor league rather than the free reserve game, sell tickets and shirts. MLS can share benefits and costs with owners, or soak up any losses. This might be less justifiable for the Puerto Ricos of the league, but that’s how it would have to work….unless you divide into regional divisions or leagues and try to limit travel that way….which is what England and Germany do in the lower ranks, geographical splits.


  • Vic

    I don’t understand how MLS teams can afford to have four youth teams (U12-U18) play full seasons but they can’t afford the reserve league to do the same.


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