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MLS to affiliate with USL PRO clubs

Discussion in 'United Soccer Leagues' started by mbsc, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. Jossed

    Jossed Member

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    MLS clubs do not have enough players to fill entire reserve teams right now. They often have guest players fill in for reserve games. So that is more for the future. The Rhinos GM did say MLS was talking about a few MLS clubs each combing their reserves squads to form a number of USL-Pro teams. Similar to MLS's old Project 40 team. but obviously on a much bigger scale
     


  2. thomas19064

    thomas19064 Member+

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    How many additional players would MLS Squads really need to fill out a Reserve team though? If you allowed for free movement between the MLS squad and the USL squad I don't think it would be too challenging to fill out rosters. If MLS were to expand rosters a bit so it wasn't a major burden and could cut out a majority of "guest players" I think this could potentially work out well, especially if could still allow your academy players to be eligible to play in these games.

    As it is right now the players at the bottom of the depth chart are really only seeing action in what? 10 reserve league matches a year assuming they aren't loaned out? It's not as if most MLS reserve players are pulling double duty...

    I think this would be a great option for MLS and existing USL teams, especially with the regional setup USL-Pro has.


    You could have 4 divisions:

    USL North East:
    Toronto II
    Montreal II
    New England II
    New York II
    Philadelphia II
    Rochester
    Harrisburg
    Pittsburgh

    USL South East:
    DC United II
    Richmond
    Charlotte
    Wilmington
    Charleston
    Orlando
    Antigua
    Tampa

    USL Central:
    Columbus II
    Chicago II
    Kansas City II
    Dallas II
    Houston II
    Colorado II
    Salt Lake II
    Dayton

    USL West:
    Vancouver II
    Seattle II
    Portland II
    San Jose II
    LA Galaxy II
    Chivas USA II
    LA Blues
    Phoenix


    Obviously you can re-arrange conferences or add more as teams come and go.... and you would limit inter-conference play as much as possible until the playoffs.... The only major problem would be the inbalance of MLS reserve teams in some conferences, but the geographic imbalance issue makes it almost impossible to work around.... (but one would hope with the MLS teams in the league resulting in lower travel costs would get more investors willing to put a team where there isn't one)
     
  3. aetraxx7

    aetraxx7 Member

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    I have had similar thoughts for a few years now. But I wonder if most teams would keep their #2 team in town or farm it out to another city. For example, I could easily see SKC sending their MLS2 team to Des Moines or Omaha. Both cities are only a short drive (3 hours) from KC, which makes calling up a player pretty simple. Both have decent sized airports if the call up is needed on the road. Both cities offer a chance to expand the SKC brand. Omaha has a long-standing relationship with KC. The Storm Chasers (formerly Royals) have been KC's MiLB affiliate forever - since 1969. The Kings (NBA) split time between the cities in the 70s/80s before moving to Sacramento.
    I could see the Crew 2 in Dayton for similar reasons. Fire 2 in Milwaukee, Peoria, Rockford, or Indy. The Quakes in another part of the Bay or even Sacramento. On and on.
     
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  4. thomas19064

    thomas19064 Member+

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    I had those thoughts as well, but if you look at how the reserve league functions now, there are definitely instances where a player could feature in the reserve game but also feature on the game day roster in the previous day..... keeping the teams in the same cities would allow for a more fluid movement between the MLS team and USL team......the issue then becomes "what day are the games played on".....

    Logistics would get trikcy, could USL work with MLS to schedule their squads home games on the Sunday after an MLS match? This would be similar to how the reserve league functions now, and then you could keep the independent teams hosting primarily on Saturdays... you still run into the issue of the MLS/USL squads traveling to independent clubs for away games while the senior roster is elsewhere....... (although being a regional league and having expanded rosters would make this less of a burden I suppose)

    Also, if KCs USL team in Omaha has it's own idenity you couldn't have that team in a tournament like the USOC since its members are fluid and one in the same with Sportings under my hypothetical model.....
     


  5. aetraxx7

    aetraxx7 Member

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    If any sort of relationship between MLS reserve teams and a lower level league occurred, then I imagine this practice would cease, whether it was a buyout or merely adding MLS reserves to the USL (or whomever). Rosters would be more or less set with players assigned to either the MLS or USL squad over a given period of time. They could even limit call ups like the NBADL does.
    This is a trickier issue. There are ways around it all the way until the final stages though, at least until MLS teams have teams all the way down the pyramid anyway.
     
  6. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    And splitting the audience sometimes and having your USL team trying to be a viable business (even if it's subsidized in whole or in part) while competing with its big brother.

    For games that no one goes to (Portland being an obvious exception). There's probably a limit to this, the extent that it makes sense to have lower-level teams be completely subservient to a parent club. Stripping them of everything that made them unique and worthwhile by just having them function in near-obscurity in the shadow of the MLS team...I don't see what's different between that and the MLS Reserve Division or why you'd have to buy USL to make that happen. If you wanted to bring the Charleston Battery in now, you could do that without buying USL.

    And not a burden particularly worth worrying about. If a guy has been farmed out an hour or two hours away and you need him to get to you in an hour, you have bigger problems.

    One and the same. But like I said, the Open Cup is less of a concern (or not a deal-breaker).
     
  7. thomas19064

    thomas19064 Member+

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    I'm not sure the solution would be "buying" USL.... rather have a working partnership that allows MLS reserve squads to opperate in the confines of USL Pro.... and the objective from an MLS perspectve certainly wouldn't be to make the reserve MLS teams into viable business or anything more than what the current reserve teams draw now...

    the objective would be to have a place where MLS Reserve squads would actually have competitive matches and minutes obtained for guys at the bottom of the MLS rosters that aren't seeing any time outside of the 10 odd game reserve schedule we have now.... ideally this results to more players in form, easier to assess players on the reserve squad, and would require a slightly larger roster (with players who has been receiving more minutes) that would benefit MLS teams in competitions such as CCL and USOC, the busy league schedule, and when a team is missing international players.

    at the same time this potentially benefits USL franchises and growth by encouraging more teams to form (more enticing if there is further regionalization) and gives their fans a chance to see bigger names that are attached to MLS teams, weather they are fringe players simply not getting minutes with the 1st team MLS squad yet, or a bigger name working their way back up to the senior roster due to injury or whatever else.
     
  8. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    That was just one of the rumors I heard. As you say below, it doesn't necessarily have to be that way.

    Wait, MLS Reserve Division games aren't competitive? Is that because they're not in a single table anymore? :)

    Seriously, if you have a guy who can't develop by training with your first team every day, you don't have to come up with a negotiated anything with USL. Just loan his butt out.

    Putting MLS reserve teams in USL gives you a league where half the teams are trying to win and half the teams are just trying to develop players. That's not good for a league, I don't think.

    Those who didn't learn from US Pro 40 Select are doomed to repeat it.
     
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  9. aetraxx7

    aetraxx7 Member

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    I get your point. I do not disagree with the necessity of such a system; it is, in fact, why I support the concept. But you are forgetting something very important: money. The league exists to make money. Period. All professional sports leagues exist to make money, at least in the modern era.
    This is where I disagree with you. MLS owners want to make money on all of their endeavors. I guarantee that everybody is looking at Portland's reserves' success and trying to figure out how to duplicate it, if not improve upon it. Buying or working with the USL is one way to do that. Whether that means having reserve teams in the same market at the MLS squad, in satellite markets, or some mixture of the two remains to be seen.
    Exactly. If the reserve teams are treated solely as development tools where wins don't matter as much as "training," then what is the point? This goes for an MLS reserve league or as teams in the USL. Reserve games have to be competitive to work.
    European reserve teams are de facto minor league teams (actual minor league teams in Germany and other places) that happen to share training and game facilities with their parent club. It works that way in Europe for the same reason that there are a bajillion pro teams in London; European countries are more compact and have fewer large cities than the US/Canada. The sport has deeper routes, there are more players, more fans, and less competition from other sports.
    Treating MLS reserve teams as minor league teams in a league like USL allows them to play competitive, meaningful games on a regular basis - just like their European counterparts. Using satellite locations for the reserve squads spreads the fan base and helps increase (potential) profitability for both the reserves and MLS team.
    I am not proposing a wholesale adoption of the traditional US minor league farm system. Instead I am talking about a hybrid between that system and European reserve systems to create something unique to American soccer, which should be much more stable than the current D@ system and more fruitful (financially and developmentally) than MLS reserves.
     
  10. thomas19064

    thomas19064 Member+

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    What Portland has with their reserves is great..... and I wish more teams approached it that way, but I get the feeling a majority do not.... I know for a sure that Philadelphia seemingly doesn't care in the slightest weather anyone shows up to a reserve game or not... maybe putting the reserve teams in a more legit league with more teams that did care would help that slightly..... (another positive to playing in USL would be getting these players in front of actual crowds, even a relatively small USL size crowd is better than the 15 people that show up to a Union reserve game now)
     
  11. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Cost/benefit ratio.

    Not everyone can point to the ROI of full-scale soccer development pyramids in this country...YET.

    Baseball spends a kabillion on its minor league system because the system has proven to be fairly efficient at moving players through and training them on the way to the big leagues, and because getting the minors to give up their independence decades ago helps keep the costs of player acquisition down (they don't have to buy a player who's tearing up the International League, they already have him). The minor-league teams took the security of not having to come up with some expenditure line items on their own, ensuring their survival (at least in their minds). It "works" for MLB.

    But MLS teams can't be blamed for having different perspectives on spending their limited resources chasing the idea that they can turn Player A into a really good, productive MLS player over the course of a few years. We don't have enough data to say "Take 100 players, put them in this system, 22 of them will be contributors for the first team within five years." It might be four players. It might be 12 players. We don't know yet.
     
  12. thomas19064

    thomas19064 Member+

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    Well then I guess my real question becomes.... how much additional investment would it cost MLS to switch from their regionalized 10 game reserve league schedule, to a regionalized 24 game USL pro schedule?

    -additional players are going to be league minimum guys/potentially academy players.... hell MLS could maybe even designate a reserve player roster spot allowing for a lower salary.
    -12 travel days for a reserve squad as opposed to the 5 we currently have... (likely the biggest cost, but a majority of teams would be a close distance from one another)
    -hosting 7 extra reserve team games.... most MLS clubs are already running these games at bare bones level, who knows maybe in a USL environment they would be more willing to actually sell these game to fans or have an easier time selling the games to fans and generate some sort of revenue.

    So whatever that cost turns out to be.... at what point would the benefits be enough to justify that additional cost?

    Ultimately yes we're talking extra costs, but I don't think it would be anything mind blowing.... and certainly no where near the level of Minor League Baseball investment for teams.... this would be a much lower cost model to better assess and develop a wider range of talent than what MLS is currently capable of.

    USL clubs would continue to operate as is... I wouldn't see MLS B squads in the league effecting them negatively... if anything maybe a boost on occasion, and additional variety in their home schedules, and reduced travel costs.

    I found this article rather interesting on the subject:
    http://www.sounderatheart.com/2012/1/22/2726210/reserve-team-b-team-what-should-mls-do
     
  13. BUSA Bulldog

    BUSA Bulldog Member

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    great point
     
  14. thomas19064

    thomas19064 Member+

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    counter argument to that is the players on the reserve squads are trying to prove they should be called up to the senior roster.....if that were the case why does the system seem to work in Spain and Germany?
     
  15. Bolivianfuego

    Bolivianfuego Your favorite Bolivian

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    Spain's lower divisions do that.
     
  16. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    You know lots of things work in Spain and Germany that don't work here, right?

    You can try to prove something all you want. The simple fact is not all of those players will get senior roster minutes, no matter how hard they try, and as long as player evaluation and choice is an inexact science subject to the whims of the people evaluating and choosing, it's not going to be a straightline rational behavior model.

    If all the players on the reserve squad are trying to prove they should be called up to the senior roster, the MLS Reserve Division should be one of the most competitive leagues on earth, right? And people should flock to see those games, if competitive games where players are trying hard (in search of roster spots or win bonuses or whatever Wynalda's carrot of choice is at the moment) are what fans want to see.
     
  17. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Because it's not your money.

    The same Major League Baseball that's positively swimming in money, right? That MLB?

    But we don't know the efficacy of it. That's my point. Too many people say, "Hell, we don't know until we try, so let's just try!" Because it's not their money. I'm going to guess the people who actually have millions invested in this actually run the numbers and don't just do Bigsoccer Back Of The Envelope numbers.

    And, again...you'd have a league...where half the teams' first priorities are winning. Which would not be great for a league en toto.

    "Maybe a boost on occasion," like people say "Maybe this will work," or "This might happen" or "You might get a few fans out of it."

    "Additional variety in their home schedules?" WTF? What ********ing difference does that make?

    Oy.
     
  18. thomas19064

    thomas19064 Member+

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    Obviously not my money.... its MLS Money.... which there isn't a ton of, but certainly enough to operate at a regionalized USL Pro level if they chose to and felt it was worth their time/money.

    I'm not saying everything that works in europe works here, but reserve squads playing lower in the Pyramid MIGHT....not trying to claim this a fool proof idea, all I'm saying is it may be worth exploring the idea of it.

    every situation is going to have its pros and cons and there isn't going to be any perfect system no matter how you slice it.. I don't believe for a second that your typical MLS fans are going to give a damn about their reserve teams in USL.... but I'm willing to bet the fans of USL teams would still care and support their teams.

    will the MLS reserve teams always be as competitive as possible? likely no..... but thats not a given...

    however we DO know USL likes getting money where it can and wants to grow as many franchises in as many places as possible.... I think adding MLS teams and increasing the leagues footprint makes it much more interesting to potential investors opposed to how the league is currently set up.

    we also know that the reserve league isn't getting it done for MLS coaches as it is right now and they want more options... otherwise they wouldn't be loaning out players to USL teams for more minutes/exposure to larger crowds/older players/etc...


    I don't think the idea is nearly as crazy/impossible as you are making it out to be.... yes there are flaws.... but I think it would be an improvement over the current system... I don't understand why your hell bent on throwing the idea out.
     
  19. dtid

    dtid Member

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    There is something to what you're suggesting, but...

    Consider that you'd need around 20 a team - 20 for the first team (16 or so players who usually play, plus cover for injuries, suspensions, national team duty) and the same for the "reserves" (difference being call ups to the first team rather than national team duty).

    MLS teams currently have 26-30. So you're talking another 10-14 players. At around $40,000 a player, now you're talking an additional $500,000 just for salaries. Plus coaching (can't just use current staff if you're talking about a true new team, with its own schedule, etc.). Plus travel - at least double what they are currently spending.

    So call it $750,000 to $1M per team per year.

    When the current MLS teams max out on their revenue (all with jersey sponsors/full stadiums, etc.) and the television revenue goes up, I can see it happening. Until then, it isn't Priority No. 1, much as that pains us....
     
  20. dtid

    dtid Member

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    Have you met Kenn? And no, I don't mean that in a negative way. He has consistently been a reality check for this kind of stuff, and from what I've seen and the sense I get from others I know who follow the game closely, he is a pretty good barometer.

    I don't think he is throwing the idea out. Rather, I think he is just pointing out that challenges the idea faces. You'll note he does this to most ideas, and few pass muster - not because he is being a d!ck, but because, frankly, it ain't easy. Hell, minor league baseball has failures left and right, even with clear, successful models out in the open for all to see. Soccer doesn't have the number of success stories or enough people who can spell - let alone actually perform - due diligence.... It seems, unfortunately, that most in soccer consider it to be a disease worth avoiding at all costs.

    Which leads to lots of failure.
     
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  21. thomas19064

    thomas19064 Member+

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    well for arguments sake lets say teams are carying 30 players... 10 extra players required more or less, which is why I suggested maybe finding away to still allow academy players to participate the way they currently do in the reserve league....so perhaps you could have 5 regular academy players making appearances, and you halve the cost of players right there..... maybe then you have 5 additional roster spot designations for "b team" players.... that can allow for a lower salary than the current league min at say 30K a player instead of 40K.... (not sure how that fits into the CBA, but you see where I'm going with it....)

    From the coaching perspective, keeping the teams local to the A team instead of farming them out to a nearby city would allow them to train and stay on the same regiment/philosophy with the A team for the most part, would keep down the amount of new staff required.......

    there could be creative ways to get around the problems to make the investment not as much of a burden... still though, it comes down to does MLS think its worth the risk/investment.....

    But yes I do agree, obviously not a top priority for MLS at this point in it's life.

    and don't get me wrong, I've seen Kenn around and appreciate his insight... certainly makes everyone think a bit more and a bit harder around here and puts things into perspective.
     
  22. dtid

    dtid Member

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    Let me stop you right there. This is about getting games for those players who are older than those able to play in the USSFDA, but haven't developed enough to be in an MLS first team roster. So bringing up Academy players isn't really solving that problem, is it?

    For argument's sake, lets say that the number for both MLS teams (first and reserve) is 36 (18 and 18). You're still talking about another 6 players and if we're talking about a player with the potential to play professionally, you can't really go lower than $40k.

    Keep it down? Yes. But not eliminate the need for at least one more professional coach - $60-$100k, depending on how serious you want to be about it. Plus the added need for equipment and medical support.

    No matter how creative you get, there still will be a cost that isn't less than $100,000 - even a pie in the sky thing would put it at $400,000 - and as I said above, MLS clubs need to get their First Division house in order. As inadequate as it might be to those of us who see it could be better, the current NASL/USL Pro/PDL/NCAA/NAIA/etc. system is doing enough to produce relatively adequate players. And we're talking about developing players 12-20 on MLS rosters for the most part, anyway. The top US players are getting the extra development through the US national team programs.

    Unfortunately for the game... yes.

    Yup.
     
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  23. mbsc

    mbsc Member

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  24. Mikey mouse

    Mikey mouse Member

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    Nick Murray (USL press guy) tweeted
     
  25. Orlando Rays

    Orlando Rays Copy editing is now my hobby.

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    It sounds interesting, but we'll have to wait and see what exactly this entails.
     

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