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Rochester Rhinos join NASL

Rhinos New Logo

In the latest back-and-forth battle between the new NASL and USL, the new league received a boost today when the Rochester Rhinos announced that they were going to make the switch from USL-1 to the NASL.

“We evaluated the situation very carefully and decided that the best decision for the future of the Rhinos and soccer in Rochester was for us to join the new NASL,” said Rhinos CEO Rob Clark in a press release. “Soccer is maturing before our very eyes.  We are joining a family of team owners who are committed to investing in our league and their teams to further the development of players and support the future growth of the sport in North America.  The NASL is a new beginning for soccer in Rochester.”

The move leaves the USL Division 1 with just five teams — Portland, FC New York, Puerto Rico, Cleveland and Austin — and bumps the total of teams in the NASL to ten. The new league is still waiting on official word from the U.S. Soccer Federation to legitimize its status.

Questions about the future of USL are now significant, with the top two divisions comprised of just 13 teams. It wouldn't be surprising to see the two levels merge as one, especially with Portland scheduled to make the jump to MLS in 2011.

What do you think of Rochester's move? Will the situation ever be resolved? What will happen to the USL?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. It certainly is a much bigger city than Seattle. The city that can only support one major sports team a season. The Cardinals draw twice the crowds of the Mariners!! How are the Supersonics? Oh wait they moved to greener pastures in Oklahoma City!! Really a cow town took your Basketball team. Isn’t it about time the Mariners and Seahawls move as well. Get over yourself because nobody with half a brain wants to live in that sewer of city. I would say the puddle jumpers that fly into that hole in the ground run on something produced there, but there is nothing!! Even the beer produced there, Red Hook, is an AB product. The only thing they produce is RAIN!!! If you want moonshine then head towards Spokane where all the gun nuts and unibombers like to hang out!!!

  2. Seriously Andy? So because a few Americans bought teams in leagues where promo/releg is looooong established, then you infer that team owners might want to start it here? Do you honestly not see a difference between taking a risk by buying a team in a league where you have no choice, and choosing to take the same risk when there’s no (or a miniscule) call for it, restructuring a league in a country where the VAST majority of fans and potential fans would think the new setup was strange and unnecessary, if not stupid and wrong?

    As for your question of would anyone be upset if the Browns and Lions were to drop, the simple answer is, none of the owners would like to even think about playing in a 2nd tier league. As it is, while revenue sharing is pretty well established here, the biggest earning teams do not like having to share their money with the smaller earning teams, so they would never want to add a succession of even smaller market teams, enough to make a 2nd league, who would make even less money. Adding new teams to create an NFL2 might bring in more money to the organization as a whole, but would it bring in more money per franchise? Unlikely.

    And while it’s not likely that Man U, Arsenal or Liverpool would get relegated, it is possible. As has been pointed out, Newcastle is a very big club, but the money they have has not translated into a top tier guarantee. Sheffield Wednesday is a pretty big club, much bigger than many in the Premier League now, yet they dropped and have not been able to get back in for years. It is a FACT that the biggest and therefore most powerful club across Europe would much rather play in a league where being relegated was impossible, not just improbable, because they know that money is not a stone cold guarantee against dropping.

    Again, while I do have some affection for the promo/releg idea, I don’t think it’s an end all be all, and I just don’t get this ‘we have to copy Europe’ mentality, having a league and a playoff champion is not a blasphemy to the gods of soccer. There are other countries with different league structures, but I doubt there are groups of fans there clamoring to change their leagues to match the only legitimate league structure, that of European leagues. I don’t follow it closely, but are there Mexican fans who rail against the clausura/aperture/playoff structure down there?

  3. i don’t see what advantages a promotion/relegation system would bring. the state of soccer in north america is too fragile for it. imagine if the red bulls were relegated. all the hard work done to establish the club in local awareness would suddenly be wiped out.

  4. “Do I think we’ll have at least some form of Pro/Rel by 2020? Absolutely.”

    Man, I want some of that action! I plan to retire around 2020 and this could fund my retirement. I’ll even give you 5-1 odds, just name your price.
    Reply December 01, 2009 at 01:24 PM

    Yeah, I heard that from the “no single table” crowd as well. Then Ives polled his readers and it became obvious single table is more popular that divisions. It’s just assumed not to be the case because Americans will want something “uniquely American.”

    Again, that’s not a rationale argument. Neither is “they won’t want to relegate a profitable club”, as a) generally profitable clubs don’t get relegated and b) it’s meaningless when most of the league still loses money. So your net loss is marginally higher? It’s a write-down league; most of the owners benefit more from write downs than direct operating profit. So relegation would actually help some of the teams’ business models.

    People have preconceptions they just can’t seem to see past. “It’s not American” seems to be the principle argument here, as the financial ones generally don’t hold.

    As for people deserting their club in droves if they were relegated? If you think a fanbase like TFC or Seattle would after relegation just because Seattle’s USL club drew poorly, you don’t understand football culture. People don’t support the team based on its potential to win, they support it as a community entity. And besides, a relegated team is capable of winning something — promotion!

  5. what is it with people’s desire for promotion and relegation? PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT EUROPE. in the USA, teams are moved between various reasons for economic reasons, it has always been that way and will always be that way.

    why don’t you guys focus on something that can be achieved?

  6. I wish those in favor of pro/rel would actually sit down and think for a second before demanding something just because it’s done in European leagues. What this comes down to is understanding the differences between America/Americans and Europe/Europeans. There are significant differences, too many to list, that mean that our league _shouldn’t_ be identical to others, or it will not prosper. For one thing, with pro/rel, the teams in Europe have solid fan bases that will support their team regardless (though surely attendance takes a hit when a team is relegated.) The same is not true here. In many cases, MLS relies on star power – think of the big AWAY crowds drawn when stars like Blanco, Beckham and Adu travel(ed). Besides, it would confuse the hell out of all the casual fans, who make up most of the audience – “When does Beckham come this season? Wait, the Rochester *Whats*??”

    An excellent question that another poster raised: why pro/rel? give us a single good reason. here are some bad reasons: 1) to make MLS like the European leagues – if it would hurt the league and provide no benefit than this is a silly argument. 2) to give the worst clubs something to fight for at the end of the season – here’s another way MLS is different from Europe, we have playoffs. At the end of the season (look at this season!) all but the two or three worst teams are still in playoff contention, and still have something to play for. That’s more than you can say about most European leagues, where save for the bottom three and top four or so, fighting for cup places, most teams have nothing to play for by the end of the season.

  7. Comparing American ownership of major European teams is simply CRAZY. For one thing, does anybody truly believe that Aresenal, Liverpool, etc with all the money they get from international merchandising alone, are ever going to get relegated? The economics in England are completely different and even more different for the big four. So we are comparing apples and oranges. The value of the tv rights also gives the EPL an ability to offset some lose when a club, say West Ham, or dare I say (gulp) Newcastle or Everton where to get demoted. I have no thoughts about 2020 other then I can only dream that football on this side of the pond will have European type money by then. This is such an absurd and annoyingly ongoing discussion in American soccer circles. Shame on me for even engaging it. My apologies.

  8. Woohoo St. Louise! I hope that they get the 20th franchise soon so that all those rumors about DC United moving to the city with the big arch will finally sink to the bottom of the Missisippi.

  9. “Do I think we’ll have at least some form of Pro/Rel by 2020? Absolutely.”

    Man, I want some of that action! I plan to retire around 2020 and this could fund my retirement. I’ll even give you 5-1 odds, just name your price.

  10. I have to chuckle a bit at all of the “Pro/Rel will NEVER happen here” naysayers.

    A few facts for you.

    Besides owning ManU, Arsenal (almost),Liverpool, and Villa, Americans also bought Derby County THE YEAR IT WAS RELEGATED, and own Sunderland (which will likely get relegated within the next 5 yeas). Yes, these are those same AMERICAN investors you think would never go for the risk…

    The USA is the largest market in the world (financially) and includes sufficient markets (metros, etc.) to support at least 50 top flight teams (Rochester is not even a top 50 market, by the way and has a solid 2nd tier team). FIFA will never let us go the route of the NFL, with a 32 team league so financially, for the league as a whole, it is better to get teams in more markets and then rotate those teams in a manageable fashion – hence promotion/relegation (which is also, btw, something FIFA is pushing for in this country).

    Think about the NFL. Would anyone outside of Detroit and Cleveland be upset if those teams went to NFL2 next year? If the dyamic NFL2 winners in San Antonio and Las Vegas joined the league would we really be upset? We Americans deal with teams moving cities and getting new names. Is pro/rel any different for the audience?

    For the owners, they get to be part of revenue sharing of a bigger overall league and if they get relegated, they not only get a parachute payment for a couple of years, they get to reduce their expenses (salaries, etc.) significantly. Most professional soccer contracts involve cuts in pay for players if the team gets relegated.

    Do I see it happening in the immediate future? No.

    Do I think we’ll have at least some form of Pro/Rel by 2020? Absolutely.

  11. As if there wasn’t already talent sharing? We saw several MLS players here in Austin last year, loaned from Houston, Salt Lake and Colorado.

  12. [Sigh]
    Again, enough about MLS and promotion/relegation, it’s just not going to happen here, full stop. Also, promo/releg is not a “soccer thing”, it’s how other countries run their sports leagues (just like pitch is not a “soccer term” as some American fans insist, it’s the Brit equivalent of field, that they use for grass sports, such as rugby, hockey, etc).

    If there is any movement on the matter of promo/releg, it will be a league (or a new pan-Euro league) getting rid of it, seeing as the big clubs with all the power would prefer to not have it.

    I’m not against promo/releg, I can just accept the reality that it’s not going to happen in MLS, my acceptance stemming perhaps my thinking it’s not as important or imperative to the sport as many here insist it is. It’s just not how American pro leagues are run, and there is no credible argument that can be made why a league HAS to have it.

  13. Your own itty-bitty airport? Wowzers! Do the A-ro planes run on moonshine, or Budweiser? And do y’all have that ‘lectricity too?

    David Beckham will never own a team based in St. Louis. Move or get over yourself. Or, you know, both.

  14. Not foolish at all.

    The ‘offsetting of losses’ rationale you propose for supporting pro/rel is total garbage.


    – Relegating good teams makes ALL OWNERS POORER: It is because of the revenue sharing that owners don’t want to see relegation. Imagine this; FC Dallas doesn’t want to see Seattle relegated because, due to revenue sharing, Seattle is making money for FC Dallas. Knowing that Seattle has shown that it only draws like 3000 fans per game in the 2nd divisions, FCD owners know their own team’s revenue would be significantly impacted if Seattle went down. This puts FCD in the odd position to actually want to lose against Seattle if FCD was in a position to relegate the Sounders.

    – “offsetting” is not good enough: it is designed to keep relegated teams from losing too much money, but owners aren’t in this league to lose money or just break even. All business owners hope for more than a 10% return on their investment and they do this through multiple revenue streams. You have to do better than just covering losses to make team owners want to vote for this idea.

    – What revenue streams are you going to offset? Ticket revenues only?: Let’s say the Galaxy are relegated as would have been the case in ’08. Sure their gate is affected, but what about sponsorships and merchanidse sales? Those are HUGE chunks of money that would have to be offset to mitigate the effects of relegation. The Gals make so much money off of merchandise and sponsorships – perhaps more than all the other teams combined, so if you told the MLS owners that they had to cover LA’s merch sales losses as well, not only would they give you a big FU, but the league COLLECTIVELY might not be able to financially do it. Your offsetting model is based on the assumption that losses due to relegation can be fully offset by revenue sharing but that is not a valid assumption.

    There are so many reasons we will NEVER EVER SEE PRO/REL in North America including the added risk it creates for sponsors, owners, etc.

    Stability is the friend of business and relegation is the enemy of stability. Follow the money!

    You people who continue to believe we will ever see PRO/REL in MLS are living in an alternate universe. You’re like the intelligent design crowd, living on faith and ignoring the patent realities that surround you.


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