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Reserve league integrating with USLPro

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by PhillyMLS, Dec 18, 2012.

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  1. aetraxx7

    aetraxx7 Member

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    This is a strong point that is often overlooked.

    Exactly. Why should MLS owners make an investment in developing players only to lose them to what is, essentially, a competing entity?

    For a case study, look at baseball. Our "National Pastime" has operated like this for over half a century and nobody has ever really questioned it. Aside from the overall decrease in baseball participation in the last decade or so, it would be hard to argue against its success at turning out both pro and national players of the highest quality.
     


  2. OleGunnar20

    OleGunnar20 Member+

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    for this to really work correctly i think the a few things need to happen:

    1. every MLS team must have a full USLPro squad that they control from coaching to tactics to training entirely (or close to).

    2. the roster rules would need to change. the MLS roster would need to be say 25ish (under contract to MLS) with a cap (hopefully a bigger one). and instead of an "off budget" cap the MLS allows teams to have a full USLPro squad say 20ish (under contract directly to the Team) as long as they players are under 23 and making at most the current MLS league min. also players in the 25 man MLS roster (high draft picks, GA, HG signings) could be loaned to USLPro side.

    basically it is two separate teams ... one of 25 under MLS rules/guidelines where only the young players you expect to get playing time go and who can play in MLS games and another of 18-20 for the USLPro/Reserve side which also has restrictions (u-23 and $40K max) and who cannot play in MLS games (unless "transfered" and put on the MLS 25 man roster). the USLPro/Reserve team can be supplemented by academy kids or loans from the MLS 25 man squad.

    so basically just like today young guys could be drafted to an MLS team or signed HG and be put on the MLS 25 man roster; they could then be loaned to the USLPro/Reserve roster. If a young player isn't going to get MLS minutes or needs to be cut the team can sign him to their USLPro/Reserve (outside of MLS contract) as long as they aren't over 23 or paid more than $40K. they could also sign guys directly to their USLPro team from their academy (those who didn't want to go to college) or from free agents/not drafted players as long as they met the U23/$40K rules. and of course the team gets first dibs to "transfer"/sign their own USLPro players to MLS contracts and put them on that roster when and if they are good enough.

    i think with a system like this you'd have to allow players to "declare" for the draft like in other leagues, so not only seniors could be drafted ... other non-seniors and non-GA underclassmen could declare for the draft whenever they wanted.

    now this is the ideal end product ... and it would likely cost $1-1.5M a year for each USLPro/Reserve squad. but some of the money could be recouped from various revenues. especially if MLS teams put their USLPro/Reserve teams in satellite cities to expand their branding footprint.
     
  3. El Naranja

    El Naranja Member+

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    Call me crazy but I don't see this move as any sort of threat to a (partial) NCAA scholarship, unless there is real money behind this. And I just don't think there will be, not to mention the salaries of MLS, enough money to cause a radical shift in 10 years. I'd love to be wrong, but I doubt it.

    That said, this certainly isn't a bad move at all. More playing time for the youngsters is always a good thing. I'm curious how the rules will be handled. If this will essentially be a large scale loan move or an actual affiliate where a MLS team can move a player back-n-forth as needed.
     
  4. SweetOwnGoal

    SweetOwnGoal Member

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    And Toronto has its equivalent team in the semi-pro Canadian Soccer League. TFC made the finals of both age groups at the last MLS academy showcase, BTW...
     


  5. superdave

    superdave Member+

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    Take DC for example. They could sign an academy kid at 17 and assign him to Richmond. The kid could play pro soccer with a pro season and pro coaches and take classes at the UVA affiliate in Richmond (Virginia Commonwealth?) He gets the same education and better soccer training. He misses out on frat parties. Alot of kids will take that trade.

    Another factor is that some kids will spend 1 year in college instead of 2, or 2 years instead of 3, with this alternate path open to them. I've long been of the opinion that spending a year or two in college and supplementing that with PDL play in the summer isn't that big of a loss for a player's development. (Gotten into a lot of arguments on that, too. :D) But a) I didn't say it was NO loss, I said it was a minor loss and b) in part that was based on the fact that MLS didn't have much of an intermediate step between college and being an MLS starter. This plan addresses the latter, making the lost time a bigger deal.
     
  6. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

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    Except they don't. Teams retain the rights to homegrown players even if they pass up a pro offer and got to college (Dillon Serna for the Rapids as an example).
     
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  7. JG

    JG Member+

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    Need a great leap forward in terms of coaching quality in order for that to happen, which in the short run requires a serious investment in guys with a real track record of player development.
     
  8. Revolt

    Revolt Member+

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    Great step forward for MLS and player development.
     
  9. WarrenWallace

    WarrenWallace Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  10. aosthed

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    My personal hope is that something like this will grow into the development channel for professional soccer in the U.S. - today, it seems a bit silly (even if there is a long tradition of it in the U.S.) that college is a gateway to professional sports.

    You can be a terrible student and be a great professional athlete. Happens all the time... so, many cheat their way through college (or have the bar lowered for them) so they can get on with their "professions".

    I'm not against sports in college - but simply the concept of it being the primary gateway to an athletic profession. It's a little like taking a trade and requiring college before you can learn (or while you learn) your trade. What if we made plummers, electricians, carpenters, etc get college degrees before they could go on to their profession? Or the same for actors/musicians? AND we told them they were limited in how much plumbing/acting/music training they could do during the school year and they absolutely couldn't get paid for it!? ... the good news? The University can monetize your free labor in its behalf! :) The businesses of college/universities gets to exploit the labor of these athletes for their on profits.

    So... I think developing a farming system with a true 2nd/3rd division option to allow players to work at their profession year round is great! Frankly, paying tuition for the players who want it (in lieu of some pay, so it's fair for those who don't care about college) seems like a great option. They can play/train year round with a professional organization/level.

    How much is the American player held back in soccer development because NCAA rules limit how much they can train/play and it seems to provide a much lower level of play that even the 2nd/3rd "semi-professional" levels of US soccer.
     
  11. thomas19064

    thomas19064 Member+

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  12. aetraxx7

    aetraxx7 Member

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    Sure, but there are numerous scenarios where that doesn't matter. The most obvious is a player blowing out his knee or otherwise ending his career while in college. Granted something similar can happen in the Acadamy or even in the *potential* minor league.
    But the real biggie comes from players that decide against MLS post-college and opt for Europe. Unless I'm mistaken, the MLS side gets jack shit in that case. How could they? The player is unsigned and technically out of the team's system at that point. In the minor league system, MLS stands a better chance of some return on their investment via transfer fees, another warm body on their minor side, etc.
     
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  13. GVPATS77

    GVPATS77 Member+

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    I doubt it. Its not been uncommon for MLS teams to send players out on loan to USL teams in the past. I mean, to EPL sides demand to have complete control over coaching and training when they send guys out on loan?

    The real puzzler to me is the following:

    1) No clear definition of what constitutes "nearby".

    2) If an MLS team is in an already existing USL market, are they required to abide by the 5 players on loan rule or can they choose to set up their own USL pro team

    3) If they are required to just loan players out, how is that fair since the other MLS teams would be able to set up full roster reserve sides.

    4) In the instance of LA, how does MLS decide which team is affiliated with LA Blues and which one has to set up a new team?
     
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  14. GVPATS77

    GVPATS77 Member+

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    Travel costs are already a problem then. How often can Sacramento afford to fly to Antigua and Barbuda.

    This could potentially help USL Pro with travel restriction as MLS sides set up USL Pro affiliate teams to join the league. USL Pro would be able to set up smaller conferences and limit travel by reducing games out of your conference.
     
  15. Howard the Drake

    Howard the Drake Member+

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    I don't think most of those guys wind up signing in Europe if they are under contract. They can sign in Sweden or Denmark (or wherever) out of college because they're free agents. In any smaller money league, a decent free transfer (see: MLS draftees and out-of-contract Euros) is attractive.

    If I'm an 18 year-old given a choice between a reserve team MLS contract and college, I'm not sure I don't choose college. You're probably giving up at least a partial scholarship.

    I don't think MLS teams aren't going to be able to offer MLB-type signing bonuses to make that an attractive option.

    I think this would be the place to see U-23 players, but I'm not sure there would be a mass increase in 18-to-22 year-olds.
     
  16. GVPATS77

    GVPATS77 Member+

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    Barcelona B, Real Madrid Castilla, Osasuna B, Real Sociedad B, and on and on and on.

    Its not a big deal. Colorado Rapids B. Or if they set up shop outside of the Denver area for some reason that makes no logical sense, Colorado Rapids Boulder or Boulder Rapids.

    Minor League baseball has at least one team that I know of that names their minor league affiliate after the big boy team (Reading Phillies).

    USL Pro fans already know their team plays in the minor leagues. I don't think branding an MLS team as the B side is going to be an issue for them.
     
  17. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

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    That kind of logic is kinda like saying ManU should not be producing anyone less than First Team ManU players. Sorry that's not the way it works. The goal of professional academies aren't to produce every single player into their first team but to create a training environment that the top 1-3% are better first team players than other development opportunities. Do you know how many good players ManU and Barcelona develops that play for other top division clubs and not one minute for ManU and Barcelona. Its just the way it is, its the nature of the beast. I remember watching Norwich vs ManU last year and they commented that there were something like 7 or 8 players on Norwich that were on the books of ManU as a youth player. So its an expected outcome that MLS academies will eternally be developing college players while hopefully also raising the level of their top trainees into MLS stars too.
     
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  18. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

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    sure, but that could happen right now too. Academy player decides not to sign with MLS and not to go to college but to jump to Europe.
     
  19. aetraxx7

    aetraxx7 Member

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    Yet so many people are acting like MLS and USL are doing something against the grain here.

    Their PDL affiliate used to be the Boulder Rapids Reserves...

    Iowa Cubs, Pawtucket Red Sox, Gwinnett Braves, Tucson Padres, Springfield Cardinals, Binghamton Mets, Mississippi Braves

    Exactly. Look at every other minor league team in every other sport in the US. Local fans don't care. The only people that may give a shit are those that are Teddy Westervelt/WSW types. Yet these people are ok with MLS Reserve teams playing in a meaningless league because that's how the rest of the world (aka England) does it. they ignore the fact that other prominent leagues (Spain & Germany, for example) use the proposed MLS/USL model, as you mentioned above.
     
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  20. EPJr

    EPJr Member

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    if VCU is affiliate of UVA then NCSU is an affiliate of UNC
    what is gonna stop him from the frat parties at VCU or Univ of Richmond for that matter?
     
  21. aetraxx7

    aetraxx7 Member

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    True enough.
     
  22. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

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    But how will they get the top NCAA freshmen and sophomores if the USL/MLS pay is (optimistically) $20K-30K while a top college scholarship is worth $40K-$50K + the long term value of the degree?

    They'd have to pay close to $100K to match the college life (plus all the extra-curricular activity that a college sports star gets).


    That is correct but it can only be offset by a corresponding hike in player wages and that's where it gets tough.

    Top level college soccer is still a better draw.



    True but - as I think I brought it up on another thread - in Europe, a decent 18-YO prospect can make $80K-$100K and still go to a university for free (no or marginal fees are required). In the US, this is still a huge choice.



    Not among the middle and upper class kids with reasonable scholastic potential. A degree is worth tons more than the USL play.

    It may get more Latin kids, who'd be seeking Liga MX contracts anyway.

    It'd have to be an ex-MLS coach because an unproven ex-player is still a pig in a poke, as we had discovered with Robin Frasier.
     
  23. Cactus Hibs

    Cactus Hibs Member

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    Mexico's 2nd division functions like this too, I think...at least it used to.
     
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  24. Cactus Hibs

    Cactus Hibs Member

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    Yeah; this doesn't look good for them. USLPro has seemed to be coveting NASL's D2 status for a while now and is planning to directly compete with them in the Tampa market. This move gives USL a huge advantage in this struggle. Kind of puts the speculation that NY Cosmos want to turn NASL into a direct competitor to MLS in a new light. I can't see this ending well for NASL.
     
  25. CShine

    CShine Member

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    If they can sort out their ownership issues there's every reason NASL could get in on this action too. It would certainly be to the advantage of MLS to have both the lower divisions as possible destinations for their talent.
     
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