Alphabet Soup: the NASL/USL/CPL/NISA/PDL/NPSL/NCAA Soccer Thread

Titans Bastard

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Solid business developments for the USL reported here.

The growth continues, as teams across the league are up more than 30 percent on average in season-ticket sales compared to last season, according to USL President Jake Edwards, who is forecasting more than 2.5 million fans attending USL matches this year, a more than 20 percent increase from last year.

Sponsorship revenue for the clubs is up 45 percent compared to last year, Edwards said. Franchise values are steadily increasing as well, with Edwards noting that recent investments into teams are being valued at 3.5 to 5 times revenue multiples. USL expansion fees are currently set at $5 million and are expected to rise again next year, up from roughly $500,000 in 2013.

The league is negotiating extensions of its national media deals with ESPN and SiriusXM. According to industry sources, not only will the league’s new deal with ESPN provide additional exposure through ESPNU and ESPN2 broadcasts during the season — typically only the league’s final was shown nationally on linear television — the remainder of the league’s games are expected to be available on ESPN+ when the streaming product launches later this spring.
 

Titans Bastard

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Found this is one of the USSF documents in the NASL litigation. It's excellent.

 

Titans Bastard

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Cringe-worthy, but at least they'll always be referred to as FC Cincinnat.
 

Titans Bastard

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Huh.


1) Building a huge minor league stadium in a prime location is hard

2) However, the people behind it are legitimate, not the hucksters commonly seen behind overly-ambitious minor league schemes

3) If a 20k stadium was built in that location, there'd be an awful lot of incentive for this ownership group to buy out the Fire and move them out of Bridgeview.
 

Titans Bastard

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Peter Wilt, the head of the proposed NISA division three league, has left to join a group trying to bring a pro team to Madison, WI.

I've been very skeptical of NISA's ability to even launch from the get-go. This makes it look like it's dead. And IMO that's a good thing. The last thing the fragile world of American lower-league soccer needs is competing D3 leagues that geographically overlap.
 

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Huh.


1) Building a huge minor league stadium in a prime location is hard

2) However, the people behind it are legitimate, not the hucksters commonly seen behind overly-ambitious minor league schemes

3) If a 20k stadium was built in that location, there'd be an awful lot of incentive for this ownership group to buy out the Fire and move them out of Bridgeview.
I don’t doubt this is the long term intention of the Ricketts, especially if this ends up being a retractable roof stadium (as was rumored a few months back when the stadium was pitched as part of Chicago’s Amazon HQ2 bid). That would be a helluva investment for a USL team and the odd international rugby match.

That said, losing the Fire would be devastating to Bridgeview. That stadium deal has crippled the village to the tune of $240m in long term debt (population of 16,000). This article lays out the horrifying financial impacts the stadium has had on Bridgeview and indicates the Fire are locked into a lease until 2036. I would have to imagine the village would seek to extract a massive buy out payment from anyone trying to move the Fire. It’s not an exaggeration to say that losing the Fire might kill Bridgeview at this point.

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20170331/ISSUE01/170339990/a-bold-burb-weighed-down-by-a-debt-ridden-stadium-seeks-a-fresh-deal
 
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Titans Bastard

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And last night, Wilt was part of a group that was awarded a new USL D3 club in Madison.
 

Titans Bastard

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Stejskal reports that FC Dallas may finalize a D3 reserve team in the next 30 days.

There have also been periodic rumors that Orlando City will bring back their reserve team for 2019, this time at the D3 level. If Orlando returns and rumored teams in Fort Myers and Lakeland come to fruition, the USL would have the basis of a Southeast Division along with Statesboro and Greenville. The other announced and rumored teams are more far-flung (Madison, Tucson, Dallas).

Still a lot of work to do to fill out the map in all regions for 2019.
 

Titans Bastard

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USL claims to be finalizing "numerous" new teams for the D3 league set to launch in 2019.

https://www.usld3.com/news_article/show/922157?referrer_id=3067503

They are off to a decent start, but they do need to get moving if they really want to launch multiple regional divisions all in the first year. I wouldn't be totally shocked if a few regions were pushed back to 2020. NISA looks totally dead, so there isn't a need to rush to market.
 

Titans Bastard

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USL announces an as-yet-unnamed club in Albuquerque for 2019.


D2 is also adding El Paso, Birmingham, Memphis, and Austin next season. I don't think it's been made official, but there is a strong possibility that Hartford will also get a D2 team for 2019.

I'd expect a few clubs -- primarily MLS2 entries -- to drop down to the new D3 league next season.
 

Titans Bastard

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Savy move by the club to to pick him up off the scrap heap. From what I can recall, there were complaints about his attitude. Going from first pick overall by Vancouver to hometown USL team is a long fall. Hopefully it’s a springboard for him to put things on the right track.
Salgado has had trouble staying healthy, too. Just another member of the early 90s lost generation...
 

Titans Bastard

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New England could be getting a second pro team for the first time since the Western Mass Pioneers dropped from the pro ranks to the PDL. Here's a report that the USL will announce Hartford as an expansion club soon:


This isn't out of the blue; there have been rumblings about Hartford for a while and the USL's official website has published articles about the progress on Dillon Stadium. I'd assume that Hartford would be D2, but I don't know for certain. The Revs would be wise to strike up a developmental relationship with this club.
 

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This isn't out of the blue; there have been rumblings about Hartford for a while and the USL's official website has published articles about the progress on Dillon Stadium. I'd assume that Hartford would be D2, but I don't know for certain. The Revs would be wise to strike up a developmental relationship with this club.
That seems to be the plan.
 

Titans Bastard

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The fifth USL D3 team:



Toronto FC II is dropping down from D2. This makes sense because TFC II usually carries a very young roster and tends to get smacked around a bit. D3 should be a more appropriate level of play for what they are trying to do with the club.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a few other existing MLS2 clubs drop down as well. On top of that, FC Dallas is expected to launch a D3 team next year and Orlando is rumored to be bringing their reserve team back.
 

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Canadian Premier League has a team signed up for York Region and might add another in GTA. Their aim seems to be USL D2 level so it could fill the gap in Canada between D3 and MLS. They are avoiding partnerships with MLS clubs at least for now. CPL obviously wants Ottawa Fury but they are affiliated with Montreal.
 

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New England could be getting a second pro team for the first time since the Western Mass Pioneers dropped from the pro ranks to the PDL. Here's a report that the USL will announce Hartford as an expansion club soon:


This isn't out of the blue; there have been rumblings about Hartford for a while and the USL's official website has published articles about the progress on Dillon Stadium. I'd assume that Hartford would be D2, but I don't know for certain. The Revs would be wise to strike up a developmental relationship with this club.
Not Rentschler? I like the idea of a stadium in Hartford proper, but the Rent is a nice facility and well-suited for soccer. It’s ostensible primary tenant is awful so there is a void to be filled.
 

Titans Bastard

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Not Rentschler? I like the idea of a stadium in Hartford proper, but the Rent is a nice facility and well-suited for soccer. It’s ostensible primary tenant is awful so there is a void to be filled.
It appears to be the economics of Rentschler. I found this from the Courant last year:

Michael Freimuth, CRDA’s executive director, said the agency received “some interest” from teams looking for a home at Rentschler Field, but “frankly, it was just too big and too expensive for soccer.”

Then, requests came in about Dillon.
Dillon is also a bit closer to downtown, although I don't know how much that matters in Hartford.

The Hartford City Council approved a $10m renovation for Dillon back in April. Although the USL's own website has been touting the Hartford bid's progress (a clear sign that they really want this to happen), I'm not sure what the hold-up is on an expansion announcement. As of a few weeks ago, they were about ready for demolition and hoping for a spring 2019 completion.

I'd really enjoy a team in Hartford. My in-laws live in Bristol, so I'd definitely catch a few games - at least until my FIL retires and moves out of state in a few years!
 

Titans Bastard

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The USL announced yet another D2 team today. This one is Loudoun United, which is a DC United reserve team that will be playing in Leesburg, VA. It's the seventh new D2 club for 2019, joining Hartford, Birmingham, Memphis, Austin, El Paso, and Albuquerque.

These additions, plus Toronto FC II dropping to D3, mean that the USL is slated to have 39 clubs next season. That number could drop a little more if other MLS2 teams drop to D3 and/or if Ottawa Fury leaves for the Canadian Premier League as rumored. Nonetheless, they'll have enough to create a Central Conference if they want to further reduce travel.

 

Titans Bastard

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Longtime executive Peter Wilt, who is in charge of the new USLD3 team in Madison, claims that the cost difference between bus vs. air trips for minor league soccer teams isn't as big as some people (which probably includes me!) have made them out to be.

Good news for Madison if he's right because thus far USLD3 hasn't announced other clubs anywhere near Wisconsin!
 

Titans Bastard

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The USL announced yet another D2 team today. This one is Loudoun United, which is a DC United reserve team that will be playing in Leesburg, VA. It's the seventh new D2 club for 2019, joining Hartford, Birmingham, Memphis, Austin, El Paso, and Albuquerque.
All these teams have been paying $5m expansion fees. Next year, it will go up to $7m. That's fairly hefty for minor league soccer and it's a testament to the USL's growth that plenty of groups are stepping up to pay it.

https://www.soctakes.com/2018/07/25/brief-usl-expansion-fee-increases/
 

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Some drama in Chattanooga:

https://www.soctakes.com/2018/07/27/possible-usld3-expansion-chattanooga/

Chattanooga FC is one of the highest-profile amateur teams in the US, drawing very large crowds for the NPSL (which is mostly a summer league for college players).

Their owner has historically been resistant to going pro with the USL and has played footsie with first NISA and later a program called NPSL Pro that the league is trying to get off the ground. It all seems nonsensical to me, especially with USLD3 coming on line as an option. Apparently it's nonsensical to other people at the club, too, because the GM has resigned to join a USLD3 expansion effort backed by another investor.

The problem is that due to Chattanooga FC's success, a rival USL team will probably divide the fanbase in an ugly way. We'll see.
 

Titans Bastard

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Some drama in Chattanooga:

https://www.soctakes.com/2018/07/27/possible-usld3-expansion-chattanooga/

Chattanooga FC is one of the highest-profile amateur teams in the US, drawing very large crowds for the NPSL (which is mostly a summer league for college players).

Their owner has historically been resistant to going pro with the USL and has played footsie with first NISA and later a program called NPSL Pro that the league is trying to get off the ground. It all seems nonsensical to me, especially with USLD3 coming on line as an option. Apparently it's nonsensical to other people at the club, too, because the GM has resigned to join a USLD3 expansion effort backed by another investor.

The problem is that due to Chattanooga FC's success, a rival USL team will probably divide the fanbase in an ugly way. We'll see.
USL has announced that D3 Chattanooga will be a founding member starting play next year. Chattanooga FC fans are very Mad Online, but we'll see how the larger and less vocal group of fans breaks next year.

 

Titans Bastard

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The USL team starting in Austin next year is called "Austin Bold FC". That's a bad name.



This club could be very short-lived if Anthony Precourt successfully moves the Columbus Crew to town.
 

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This club could be very short-lived if Anthony Precourt successfully moves the Columbus Crew to town.
I can't imagine it's long for Austin either way. If the Crew move falls through, there's going to be a lot of ill will toward the USL group, which is not subtly trying to scuttle the MLS efforts.
 

Titans Bastard

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I can't imagine it's long for Austin either way. If the Crew move falls through, there's going to be a lot of ill will toward the USL group, which is not subtly trying to scuttle the MLS efforts.
Aside from those issues, I'm curious how much their stadium location will hinder them. COTA is not exactly downtown.
 

Titans Bastard

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Is the logo supposed to have a hidden 1-2-3 in it? And if so, why?
I haven't found any explanation. It may just be weird design, but it's coming from the same people who decided to name their soccer team as though it was a mediocre font.

In other logo/name news, the new USLD3 team in Greenville unveiled both today. I think the logo is clean and solid enough, though not spectacular at first glance. The name is bad, though it's not Austin Bold bad.

 

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One mystery solved:



"The 'B' includes a subtle reference to the profile of the Iconic Circuit of the Americas Tower, evoking movement and speed."



Now I know.
 

Titans Bastard

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The Rochester Rhinos are joining USL D3 in 2020:


The Rhinos went on hiatus for 2018, which is usually a prelude to folding, but there's a new lease on life for a club that was once the toast of minor league soccer. The report is that the Rhinos will leave their current stadium due to a dispute with stadium ownership and pursue a different venue. That situation, of course, bears watching. It's hard to ascertain the stability of a club when they don't have a place to play. They do have 18 months to figure it out.

The USL had said earlier this week that they included ten teams in their USSF sanctioning application and the remaining four would be unveiled before the end of September. It's not clear to me whether or not Rochester is part of the four given their 2020 start date.
 

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That stadium news is surprising. Vacating the old stadium and building a second soccer facility in Rochester seems like the worse option for all parties involved.
 

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Greenville Triumph announced John Harkes as their inaugural manager today.

Some other hires for new clubs:

Austin: Marcelo Serrano (Brazilian journeyman manager)

Birmingham: Tom Soehn (ex: DCU, Vancouver manager, former Revs assistant under Heaps who not coincidentally is Birmingham's GM)

El Paso: Mark Lowry (Englishman, former Orlando City youth coach and later manager of Jacksonville Armada)

Hartford: TBA

Loudoun: TBA

Memphis: Tim Mulqueen (ex-assistant at Orlando City, GK coach at a variety of places before that)

New Mexico: Troy Lesesne (ex-assistant at Charlotte)
 

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Important article in The Athletic about the USL's growing pains. The league has grown considerably, many teams draw decently, a few draw really well, but lots of players are on eight-month contracts, many don't get health insurance from their clubs, and in some places the back-end-of-the-roster types don't get much more than room and board.

“There’s such a wide range of how these clubs do their business,” said Patrick McCabe of Stellar Group, noting that his clients earned anywhere up to around $6,000 per month. “You want to have guys in good situations, but if you don’t have a club by the middle of February, these USL teams are going to take advantage of that.”

After going unsigned after the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, defender Tyler David signed with the USL’s Saint Louis FC, where he saw how the team attempted to keep costs low.

“My second year there, Saint Louis was still looking for players when the season started,” said David, who is now playing in Finland. He said the club offered lodging to every player, and would sometimes pay players from its coaching budget. “I know of some teams who would sign goalkeepers from within their market and pay them $250 a month. They’d end up living at home or with their own friends, but it was a much cheaper choice than signing three true goalkeeping options.”

According to one former USL general manager, salaries can be even stingier.

“There are players on rosters that are playing for a place to live,” he said. “These guys are being paid room and board but earning no income on top of that. They’re squad players—the guys filling out numbers. In fairness, those contracts include bonuses for playing time.”
The NASL had its share of problems, but the final eight teams did offer insurance for players and their families. As of now, many USL sides do not; both the agent and the former GM estimated that 70 percent of teams offer health insurance for their players.

“I think it’s lower than that,” McCabe said. “By and large, I think it’s workers’ comp. It isn’t more than 50 percent that are providing health insurance. Some of these guys have families and it becomes a consideration. We had a situation with a player in Atlanta, who didn’t offer insurance. His wife was pregnant, and she had to stay on her California state insurance to have the baby. These clubs don’t adapt to the changing times where their workforce goes into the late-20s, which means they’re more likely to be married.”
As the USL grows in size and profile, they'll need to address these issues. Every once in a while there are rumblings about a players' union in the USL.
 

Titans Bastard

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Here's a new one: USL Memphis announced the club will be called Memphis 901 FC, a reference to the local zip code.

 

Titans Bastard

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There are now seven confirmed clubs for 2019, with Rochester slated to come back in 2020. FC Dallas should have a USLD3 team announced later this year and there are rumors that Penn FC and Richmond Kickers might drop down.
Richmond has confirmed that they will be in D3 next year:


That's five clubs in the Southeast now. Other regions don't have much club density at all yet.
 

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Efrain Alvarez scored his second hat trick of the season for LA Galaxy II last night. It's also his fourth multi-goal game, giving him 12 goals in 1147 minutes which is nearly a goal every 90 mins. He's 16.

These aren't necessarily GOLAZOS, but they all show how smooth he is on the ball and his composure in tight spaces. He even makes a tap in look stylish.

Still playing for Mexican youth national teams since switching over a year ago. Le sigh........