Photo by Brad Smith/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
An affiliate partnership with a USL Pro team has been all the craze for MLS clubs in recent months, but the LA Galaxy have decided to avoid that trend and start one of their own.
The Galaxy announced on Wednesday the launch of LA Galaxy II, a professional team that will compete in third division USL Pro. The move is historic in that it marks the first time an MLS club will own and operate a lower division professional team within the club’s player development structure, much like other teams throughout the world have.
Curt Onalfo, an assistant coach with the first team since 2011, has been named the head coach of LA Galaxy II and will be tasked with leading the club while also developing players for the LA Galaxy’s first team in MLS.
Like their parent club, LA Galaxy II will train and play all of its home matches at StubHub Center.
“The LA Galaxy are taking a monumental step for player development in North America,” said Galaxy president Chris Klein. “The creation of LA Galaxy II, through USL PRO, provides the Galaxy with a fully realized player development program starting with the Under-12 Academy teams through the LA Galaxy first team. The investment of AEG and the Galaxy in LA Galaxy II allows us to continue to develop the best players in Southern California and lessen the gap between the academy and the LA Galaxy.”
LA Galaxy II will provide ample playing time and development opportunities for players within the LA Galaxy system, as the USL Pro season consists of 28 regular-season games and playoffs. LA Galaxy II are expected to feature players they sign, LA Galaxy first team players and LA Galaxy academy players.
“We are thrilled to welcome LA Galaxy II into USL PRO as our newest expansion club,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “Entering the second season of our partnership with Major League Soccer, the addition of LA Galaxy II into our competition is an exciting development for all the league’s stakeholders and fortifies our continued efforts to remain the strongest league below and in support of MLS on and off the field.
“It is particularly fitting that the LA Galaxy, one of Major League Soccer’s true groundbreakers and pioneers across so many different fronts during the past two decades, are now the first to fully embrace the value and potential of placing a team in USL PRO.”
The process of building LA Galaxy II’s team will begin immediately. LA Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski, director of soccer operations David Kammarman and Onalfo will identify the players that make up the roster, which can include any number of first team LA Galaxy players via loans.
Additionally, Galaxy II may call in Galaxy academy products for training and games and those players will still retain their amateur status.
“LA Galaxy II gives our young players, both in the academy and on the first team, additional playing time and opportunities to grow as players,” said Kirovski. “We see this as a pioneering effort in player development in North America and something that will advance our club on the field and in the community.”
What do you think of this initiative by the Galaxy? Hoping more MLS teams follow suit in the not too distant future? Fully expect LA Galaxy II to compete for a USL Pro championship this season?
Share your thoughts below.
The USL allows up to seven foreign players. Should the Galaxy take advantage of this and get some young foreigners for development. Some of the CFU combine players not invited to the MLS combine perhaps
And USL doesn’t count Canadians as foreign for some reason.
this is cool!
Step in the right direction but they shouldn’t be allowed in the Open Cup. MLS teams shouldn’t be able to recall players for those matchups against their affilate lower division teams either.
I believe there ae already rules set in place for the Open Cup for movement of players beween te USL club and the MLS club. Last year, the Rochester rhinos played The Revoluton in the Open Cup. I remember there being certain gudelines in place.
RSL has already made plans to do this. They are expected to launch their own USL team for next season if not the following. That is the future for development in MLS. Not the SuperDraft.
I thought RSL and San Jose just annouced Sacramento as a USL affiliate.
The draft is defiantly something from MLB, NHL, and NBA. It was good for the time being but I see it being phased out.
I have a feel a lot of MLS teams will do this. I would not be surprised to see half the USL Pro table comprised of MLS’ lower div teams within the next few years.
You’re right, the draft has run its course. I don’t see it ever going away completely, as there are still college dudes with the quality to play professionally, but as the Galaxy demonstrated in the last draft, more and more clubs will simply choose to pass.
will they be playing some home games prior to LAG home games? Would be cool to go to Stub Hub Center and be able to catch a double bill.
My bet is that you see more teams make the same announcement this year. RSL? Big on player development and does not have an affiliated USL side set up for the year.
I hope their nickname will be “The Dos”
i wish they would play their home games somewhere other than Stub Hub… Perhaps Pasadana or San Gabriel Valley… they can develope a wider fan base…
But where could they play in Pasadena? The Rose Bowl probably costs too much to rent out. Would also love to see them there, but with the drought situation, I think it’s tough to push a new grass field. JPL and the city just got done fighting over a piece of land which could have been converted to a field, but will now be instead a basin for groundwater.
PCC pretty much is it.
The press release say that Academy players will be eligible to play in USL games and still maintain their amateur status. Can this be true? Could LAG academy alums in college play this season with the Gals and then head back to their respective colleges in August? That could be a huge decision for the MLS development pipeline, the NCAA, and american development as a whole.
Can this be true? Anyone know the amateur rules well enough to comment?
NCAA rules allow current HS players to play on a team with professionals (designed to allow Euro basketball players to be on an amateur contract with their pro club & not lose eligibility). But once you start in college, you can’t play with the pros anymore. That’s why they play in PDL, where the teams are generally all amateur.
So, yes to HS kids; no to college kids.
How can the NCAA develop a higher technical standard on par with MLS academies? More games? The answer could be golden for US Soccer, but I do not see any solution.
This completes a player development triangle for the Galaxy. Very smart move. Next issue will concern players U-12 and under. How will the best U-12 players be scouted and brought into the Galaxy 2 system? Scout club teams or AYSO? Tryouts? Combines?
The Galaxy already extended their Academy system down to U12 and then acquired a local club (South Bay Force, which became LA Galaxy South Bay) that now provides “B” and “C” team squads for the Galaxy Academy at the upper age groups and has full teams at the age groups below U12. Galaxy provides the coaching curriculum and runs clinics and in some cases provides the coaches. So, the full feeder system through to the senior squad is now in place. The big difference is that the Academy is free, whereas LA Galaxy South Bay is a regular pay for play club. Still, it’s hard to decide which players to spend on before they are 10 or 11, so this is pretty good.
Would be better it South Force was not pay for play and if they were basically running their own large footprint youth league to reel ’em in.
True, but if you didn’t have unlimited resources, you concentrate on ages 10 and up. At the U8 and lower levels, AYSO provides a sufficiently easy access large footprint youth league that the Galaxy can pick off. U10 is probably the first chance to really differentiate among players, but the clubs can and do still give scholarships. I’ve never seen a star player pay to play in the club system unless their parents were quite wealthy and understood it was a way to improve the quality of their teammates.
Until the USSDA and MLS academies, most high-level clubs were pay to play. Some had scholarships, sure.
Thank you for the information Benny. It is just awesome to see this happen. I’m sure over time every MLS team will set up the same way. MLS is only going to get better with time and developing there own talent. Just awesome.
Loving this idea! Perfect for player development.
Not a big fan. I would prefer independently operated minor league teams in affiliation with MLS teams.
Why on earth would you not like it? The goal was for every MLS team to have their own USL team. Why would it be better to have just 5 MLS players assigned to a USL club when you can have an entire TEAM that only cares about development.
Jozy getting mugged out there. At least he’s a handful for Stoke defenders.
Huh. You’d think a team that needs to fill out an entire USL roster would use all their draft picks.
Only one that doesn’t have a boatload of academy talent coming down the pipe.
I believe the Red Bulls are pretty far along in the process of setting up a USL Pro team as well?
I hope they are…with all the home grown players and draft picks that have been cut during the back era, we could’ve fielded a url pro team when the merger was announced.
I like LA’s plan though i hate LA
Man, I would love it if they named it Red Bull Zero, or Red Bull Lite.
Huge. All eyes will be on the Galaxy organization as this adventure evolves. If they can pull it off, which they will, others will follow suit. It’s not a trailblazing idea, many thought this would happen eventually, but it’s coming to the surface sooner. Our development in the country is stunted by not having the necessary outlets for players to gain professional experience in the 18-22 yr. old range. Ventures like this will open doors and close the gap. I hate the Galaxy. It’s hard to tip my cap to them but looking at the bigger picture, I can put that aside and give them props.
Love it, hopefully all MLS teams can do the same and make europe and now mexican teams pay a higher amount of money, when they want to take MLS talent for a cheap price.
Now USA just needs a true division 2 that wont bankrupt and more galaxys in USLpro.
By the way is MLS getting a new logo.this season or until nycfc joins. MLS should also change their name when nycfc joins or when they unite with nasl, how about NAPS north america premier soccer or NAPL north america premier league and add a league sponsor.
Oh how about we don’t try to sound like the English rebrand from just a few years before out league started and just keep MLS. Thanks.
meant to say “our league”
Also, we aren’t EVER going to see MLS and NASL merge. MLS will just take their biggest markets when they want.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!
Amazing that some NASL Execs and Traffic are still in denial about a potential merger or some sort of dual, first division status…
You’ll see one of those scenarios play out on the first of Neveruary, 2XXX.
Which is why it will be so much fun when the Cosmos win the US Open Cup.
Eh. Why would MLS really care if Cosmos win US Cup?
Because winning the US Open Cup gives you a berth into the CCL.
Yeah? So would you say that MLS teams take CCL super seriously? Because aside from the coaches and owners and whatnot in public, you’d be close to the first.
prize money into your coffers, allocation money on to your salary cap number, regional recognition, the chance to play in the FIFA Club World Cup = money.
Yeah, I think more and more clubs are taking it seriously.
And again, I’d say: eh. The money isn’t very good AT ALL, yet for even the Club World Cup, much less CCL.
The allocation money is important.
The regional recognition is a nice-to-have thing.
It’ll *get* important, I hope. But, for now, it hardly matters much.
I hope, when the closest team to you is the Rochester Rhinos, one enjoys seeing an MLS club come to town!
So what do you call your soccer competition?
Right, what’s it’s name?
So when people refer to a league you have what name do they use?
If we rebrand MLS as a PL we might as well name every team Dynamo Real Sporting City FC and be done with it.
That’s Dynamo Real Sporting City FC United to you…
Love the fact that the Galaxy has added a team to USL PRO, but c’mon…Galaxy II? They could’ve done something better than that with the name!
Would you prefer Galaxy B team?
Not saying it has to be Galaxy B, but what about something other than B or II? Galaxy Pro? or Galaxy Reserves?
The most important thing is that they kept the Galaxy moniker. The suffix is really inconsequential. By keeping the Galaxy name, they’re expanding their brand and actually living up to the football club ethos we see in Europe, and which tends to be feigned in the US.
Ian – I definitely agree that I am very glad that they kept Galaxy. I like that their is no confusion that this is a team from the LA Galaxy club.
So I guess that taken together, the teams are a Galaxy Cluster?
If only the Galaxy had Samsung as their shirt sponsor. Then, the MLS club shirts would read Samsung Galaxy and the USL club would be the Samsung Galaxy II.
I am surprised AEG didnt just make the Dynamo their minor league team and just start transferring players from Houston to LA.
It’s interesting to me that a team that plays in Stubhub will also have a retread system for second choice players.
How is this different from a Reserve Team in a Reserve League?
What if all MLS teams made their own team, wouldnt this just become another reserve league?
Because as it stands now the Reserve League is garbage. A USL Pro team will be playing many more competitive games than an MLS Reserve team.
This is a step many teams should take in some way so we can just forget the Reserve League.
Reserve teams aren’t in the open cup either. Could make for some interesting match-ups.
Like the 1980 Copa Del Rey Final.
Same principle as a reserve league, but allows for more players and more games. I believe that there were under 20 maches last year for the reserve league.
Also allows for players to retain amateur status….which allows them to to postpone making a decision on going pro while still getting higher level training & compitition.
If all of the American based MLS teams were to follow suit USL could be made up of 5-6 regional divisions and drastically cut down on travel for all of the clubs thus lowering the threshold for investment in USL. I bet you’d see several current PDL clubs move up. Imagine a 30-40 team third division of the best 16-23 year old players in the country. Way better development model than the NCAA.
Because the reserve setup is more in the manner of English soccer, there is no real distinction between first team and reserve team. There are rules regarding who can be used but you can use people who were sitting on the first team bench just a day earlier, or even played 20 minutes.
Whereas, this is a physically separate team with its own schedule in a separate league. In that case the roster will become relatively stable and while some people can yo-yo over time, it’s not going to be a literal tweener situation, you will be with one team or the other for extended periods.
Also, with an established league there will be a set schedule with weekly games, standings implications, and a postseason. You won’t be playing once a month in some slapped together regional schedule, etc. Houston’s reserves played maybe 10 games. USL Pro played 26.
In addition, by loaning players to the USL side, I would assume that you remove those players’ salaries from the galaxy’s books. That’s going to allow you alot more flexibility when signing young players and allow the galaxy to develop a much deeper roster. If I’m correct they might be able to expand their roster from 30 to around 50 without running afoul of the cap. That would be extremely helpful for a team, like the galaxy, who have a packed schedule due to multiple competitions.
Exciting development for Galaxy fans. Everyone knows there’s a big gap between U-18 and the pros. This fills that gap. It’ll be awesome to see guys like McBean, Sorto, Mendiola, etc. get regular, professional playing time. It bodes well for the future of the MLS club.
I’m already wondering about logistical issues like tickets, parking, concession prices,etc. I’m certain tickets will be cheaper. Hopefully the entire gameday experience is less expensive.
LA Galaxy II tweeted that season tickets are included in regular season ticket packages. I assume that means at no additional cost, but not sure.
Another perk of being an ACB Season Ticket Holder, you get tickets to @LAGalaxyII
Very, VERY smart move by the Galaxy FO. Even if only 10% of STH use their free tickets, that’s more concessions and jerseys sold than otherwise would be. If they price tickets right for non-STH, who knows, this could (thought I doubt) be a profitable venture.
Well played, Klein. You’ve got a long way to live up to Leiweke, but this is good.
This is a promising step for bridging the gap for players in the 18-21 year old range.
great news, although i was expecting LA Blues to be the USL Pro team. my guess is LAG wanted to have it’s own and not have to deal with any other owners. or maybe Chivas USA is trying to work a deal with them? either way, this is great news and looking forward to other clubs doing the same.
LA Blues have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.
that bad? seems like a perfect USL Pro team for someone to use. it’s in LA, separate from LAG, and they play at Titan Stadium. seems like a good USL Pro option.
a soccer team called LA that doesn’t play in LA. Baseball and football may get away with that but soccer is more about community than other sports.
LA Blues would have been better off playing at Cal State LA or East LA City College and developing a relationship with the local community.
Instead they play at Cal State Fullerton and I bet there are soccer fans in Fullerton who have no idea they exist. If I live in Fullerton do I want my soccer team to be called LA? Hello no…I want it named after the city or county I’m in.
LA Blues are soccer 101 on how not to run a soccer club.
i mean, i see your point. but Orange County is associated with LA outside of that area. to me, it’s not a big deal and certainly isn’t a reason to say they have no idea how to run a team. there may be many other reasons as to why you think that, but calling the team LA Blues despite playing in Fullerton seems like a hollow complaint.
you think Fullerton residents don’t know they exist simply because they are called LA Blues? i think that is a HUGE leap to make. don’t you think if they were really interested they would see they play at Cal State Fullerton?
my guess is 1. there is no interest in a USL Pro team, and 2. LA Blues could probably market themselves better.
again, they could be awfully run. i don’t really know. but i would not say they are “soccer 101 on how not to run a soccer club” simply because they are called LA Blues and play in Orange County.
“but soccer is more about community than other sports.”
opinion or can you substantiate that?
what I meant by that is teams recruit from their own communities for players.
you may be getting your wish, LA Blues facebook page seems to suggest a complete and total re-brand to Orange County.
“Los Angeles Blues Soccer
We heard oranges are very… refreshing… #NewBluesEra”
Galaxy II huh…. sounds like a lawsuit.
It’s not S2…lol, besides this is the correct way to name your second division team like the rest of the world does. I’m happy it isn’t some silly astronomy synonym related to a galaxy
Los Angeles Constellations.
I know. I kid. I kid.
More like a movie sequel. But shouldn’t it have a pithy title? Maybe the LA Galaxy II : The Wrath of Keane or LA Galaxy II: The Undiscovered Player or even LA Galaxy II: Revenge of the Waived?
Galaxy II: Electric Boogaloo
This is good for youth development, I hope this works out. Teams like Real Madrid, Barca and Bayern already do this and look how its worked out for their youth players.
They clearly needed more room to sign HGP. Now they can sign them early and stash them on the USL club. LAG are way ahead of the rest of the league with their academy.
The Beckham-era money put to good use.
Begs the question will teams that only affiliate and not field their won USL Pro team not allow their players more development opportunities? MLS teams that affiliate can only loan up to 5 players to a USL team whereas those who field a team can get many more players involved. Also was it the fact that LA is owned by AEG that they were able to do this.
We’ll definitely see more MLS clubs following suit for the reason you mention. Five loan slots isn’t enough when MLS rosters hold 30 players.
AEG is a big, rich corporation, to be sure, but Seattle, Portland, SKC, and NYRB are no less capable of putting together their own USL teams. Portland and Seattle already have PDL squads, I think.
Wow. Really smart move. Wonder if they will get more fans than Chivas USA.
You’re sure Chivas have any left?
Galaxy II will have more Mexican-American talent than Chivas anyways. I imagine that Chivas’ remaining fans know they’re being insulted but only stick around for the ticket prices.
Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, Orlando City, Chicago, and the LA Blues have U23/Reserve teams in the USL PDL.
NYRB, Carolina Railhawks, DC United, and the Atlanta Silverbacks have U23/Reserver teams in the NPSL.
Starting in 2014, San Jose, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, the Dayton Dutch Lions, and Montreal will have U23/Reserve teams in the USL PDL.
Not only the giants do this. For example nearly every ligue 1 club in france has one, or two, some even have three versions. These ‘II’ or ‘III’ teams all play in division 4 or lower equivalents to the PDL here – the french pyramid is similar to the U.S. one in that after division three it goes regional. A good precedent – in france these regional leagues have huge talent pools and are used to discover young players from diverse communities. With less travel involved scouting is easy; big clubs often find their homegrown players among their reserve team’s opposition, and persuade them to switch academies.
I think the German style of a II team down a few rungs is the ideal bridge for academy players to the first team. Loans and such are a half baked workaround. Allowing teams to sign HGP is not the same thing as them developing them right.
I think this is the way to resolve the 18-23 bridge issue getting young players competitive PT within your own system. Having some unrelated minor league team do it — their way — is not ideal. Nor is outsourcing it by loaning people to Mexico or where-ever.
The only issue I see is affordability and the more prosperous teams can probably afford it.
It’s also Spanish style. FCB B and Real Madrid Castilla are both in the Spanish 2nd division. The latter actually won a Second Division championship back in the ’83-’84 season, but was not promoted due to the parent club being in the First Division. Bilbao B was the runner up that year, and they were not promoted either. The third, fourth, and fifth placed teams went up.
RMC has also been the runner up in the Copa del Rey back in 1980. They lost to the big club 6-1.