There has been a lot of Twitter chatter about the possible affiliation between Major League Soccer and the unofficially D3 United Soccer League Professional Division, and now it seems were within 48 hours of a possible announcement on the matter. Canadian Soccer News reports some of the details:
Yesterday, Rochester’s WHEC reported that the Rhinos would be affiliated with a MLS team starting this year. It also came out that full details of the plan would be released within 36-hours.
The report suggested that there would be four USL-Pro teams taking part in the partnership in 2013.
The information is in line with what the respected IMSoccerNews reported last week.
In a series of Tweets, IMSsoccer revealed that 2013 would be “transition year.” MLS teams would have an option to play MLS reserve league games, or join USL-Pro.
It was expected that most MLS teams would be participating in USL-Pro fully by 2014.
Essentially MLS clubs could either partner with a nearby USL Pro club, or incorporate their own reserve/academy side into the league.
Before we get anymore details, it’s prudent to look at the long view in terms of football development. While only those near the Ted Westervelt end of the Europhile spectrum would advocate for a promotion/relegation tiered system, many have long wondered if MLS could go beyond merely running its own closed shop reserve but attempt a partnership with an existing professional tier.
While it’s not quite same as the Spanish model in which La Liga academy sides play in the professional second division, it does at least bring two distinct levels of US soccer under the same operational umbrella, both sanctioned by the USSF.
There are many unanswered questions though. What—if anything—does this portend for NASL’s future? Will it simply carry forward as a de facto D2? And what does this mean for Canadian clubs, and the future of Canadian player development (particularly in light of the recommendations of a study yet-to-be-released and minorly co-authored by yours truly)?
We don’t know, but it looks like we’re finally getting the faint outline of a real professional football pyramid, hopefully less prone to the chaotic fluctuation of lower league American pro-soccer.
UPDATE: It’s official now. Expect a sermon tomorrow…