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

Titans Bastard

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Miami FC, once of the NASL and lately dabbling in the NPSL, NPSL Pro, and NISA, are reportedly heading to the USL Championship. Ottawa Fury are on their way out, in part because they'd rather take their ball and go home rather than be forced into the Canadian Premier League, and so they've sold their rights to the Miami FC owner.

This is surprising because Riccardo Silva has been one of the prime lower-division soccer agitators and has been involved with lawsuits against the USSF over sanctioning issues. USL is dangerously "establishment" for someone with such an edgy reputation.

 

Titans Bastard

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There's some legitimate-seeming interest in launching a USL team in Baltimore. The potential owner is a real estate guy and it sounds like one of those situations where it all depends on whether or not a stadium makes it into a larger redevelopment.



Other USL updates can be found here. A brief summary:
  • The rights to Fresno FC, which has ceased operations, may be sold to a group from Monterey, CA who would aim for a League One launch in 2021
  • Rochester Rhinos are still on hiatus and hoping to return to League One in 2021.
  • Penn FC (Harrisburg) are officially defunct. The big problem is that Harrisburg City Islanders' old venue isn't viewed as suitable for USL and apparently there's no other real option.
  • Colorado Springs Switchbacks got approval to build a tidy little stadium with a capacity of 8,000.
  • T2, the Timbers reserve team, are moving out of Providence Park and moving in with the short-season single A Hillsboro Hops, which should be a more appropriately sized venue.

It's been announced elsewhere that the Philly Union reserve team is being rebranded from Bethlehem Steel to Philadelphia Union II. That's bland and uninspiring, but to be fair, the team moved away from the Lehigh Valley last season due to stadium issues and it appears that no return is imminent.
 

Titans Bastard

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USL, livin' large with the five-figure transfer fees.

View: https://twitter.com/jeffrueter/status/1217177640370692098


But seriously though, there have now been a handful of small-time sales. Historically, most players in the USL would be on 11-month contracts and would move on frees every winter. The development of a transfer ecosystem — especially funneling to MLS — would be a very welcome development, as it would make investments in player development a much more viable concept at this level for independent clubs.


There are also rumors that Atlanta is about to buy Adam Jahn from Phoenix Rising for $100k.
 

Titans Bastard

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Ottawa lost the Fury in what seemed to me like a fit of pique from club owners. The Canadian federation wasn't going to continue to sanction their existence in the USL now that the Canadian Premier League exists, so the Fury decided to simply shut it down rather than move to the CPL.

Today, the CPL announced their own Ottawa club. It's backed by Atlético Madrid. Given that they are slated to begin play THIS April, they better get cracking.

View: https://twitter.com/CPLsoccer/status/1222622082900488192
 

Titans Bastard

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Ottawa lost the Fury in what seemed to me like a fit of pique from club owners. The Canadian federation wasn't going to continue to sanction their existence in the USL now that the Canadian Premier League exists, so the Fury decided to simply shut it down rather than move to the CPL.

Today, the CPL announced their own Ottawa club. It's backed by Atlético Madrid. Given that they are slated to begin play THIS April, they better get cracking.

View: https://twitter.com/CPLsoccer/status/1222622082900488192
It's "Atlético Ottawa". No doubt Canadians from all across the country will be rabid Simeone fans in no time.

 

Titans Bastard

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The USL Championship is restarting tomorrow. The league has been divided into eight pods of four or five clubs clustered by geography. The top two clubs in each pod advance to the playoffs.

They're playing 16 games total, a number that includes the handful of games from back in March. Four matches for each club will be from outside their "pod".

The big thing is that the league has given its blessing to clubs to have fans at games provided it complies with local health orders. This...will be interesting.


USL League One is resuming play the following week. Toronto FC II have withdrawn from the 2020 season, likely due to complications with border crossings. They are running a 20 game schedule with the top two teams advancing to a final. The plan was for each club to play a local rival four times, play most other clubs twice, and not play one far-flung opponent at all to save everyone a flight. Not sure how the TFC news changes that.
 
Colorado Springs Switchbacks (who lost their opener last night) are letting season ticket holders into their home games. With dollar beers to try to entice folks back in. I'm somewhat empathetic because they just built a new stadium and this is supposed to be the debut season for it, but seems like a pretty bad idea, overall.
 

DJnVa

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Going to a USL League 2 game tonight (well, technically it's a friendly since season is canceled)--VB United vs Lionsbridge FC. The stadium is big enough the social distancing should be pretty easy.

Last week VB United played against an all-star team from the local adult league. My son just joined that league and is potentially good enough to make that all star team if they do it again.
 

Titans Bastard

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Mighty Joe Young

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The Canadian Premier League is going to play this season .. in Charlottetown P.E.I.


P.E.I. Is about as safe a location as you would like in regards to Covid-19 .. they’ve only had 36 cases total. They will be bubbling within the Atlantic Bubble. No fans of course .. the league has its own streaming service.
 

Titans Bastard

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Saint Louis FC announced that it will fold after the season. While it was inevitable that this club would disappear once MLS awarded a team to St. Louis, it feels like a missed opportunity that the MLS group couldn't work with the USL organization to build momentum. Instead, there will be no pro soccer in the city in 2021 and 2022.

 

DJnVa

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The title doesn't mention the UPSL, but my son made the reserve squad for a Division 1 UPSL squad this past weekend.
 

Titans Bastard

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The title doesn't mention the UPSL, but my son made the reserve squad for a Division 1 UPSL squad this past weekend.
There's always more to the Alphabet Soup!

I don't know that much about the UPSL. Is it like USL League Two (ex-PDL) with mostly college players in the summer? Or high level amateur adults?

Congrats to your son!
 

DJnVa

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There's always more to the Alphabet Soup!

I don't know that much about the UPSL. Is it like USL League Two (ex-PDL) with mostly college players in the summer? Or high level amateur adults?

Congrats to your son!
It's not current college players, the season just started. I really couldn't tell you much yet. I would say it's lower level former college guys, with random high level adults. A guy on the first team was all-state here in high school but didn't play in college. It has 3 divisions and internal pro/rel, and the teams can play in the US Open Cup and the US Amateur Cup. They had a team make the 4th round of the US Open Cup 5 or so years back (lost to Galaxy 6-1). It's considered semi-pro.

He's on AC Commonwealth: https://www.accommonwealth.com/

It's probably a long shot he gets any PT.
 

Titans Bastard

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Cool. Since it's considered semi-pro, I assume that means players make a small weekly wage?

Looking at the 2019 US Open Cup, the leagues that get direct entrants are the pro leagues (MLS, USL Championship, and USL League One), and the largest summer amateur leagues (USL League Two and NPSL). Everyone else has to play regional qualifying tournaments for eight additional slots and a bunch of those qualifiers from last time were from UPSL. The team that made the most noise in 2019 was Florida Soccer Soldiers (classic US Open Cup name), who beat one pro team on the way to the third round. Two of their starters have since been signed by professional teams in the USL Championship, which is cool.
 

Titans Bastard

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I made an adjustment to the title of this thread. Shoutout to @DJnVa Jr. and his burgeoning soccer career in the UPSL!


Jeff Rueter of the Athletic did a USL expansion rundown. I have to imagine that the pandemic has created significant financial headwinds for expansion projects, but it seems that rumors still run rampant.



The basic rundown

USL Championship

- Queensboro FC — this is David Villa's club. Originally announced for 2021, pushed back to 2022

- Buffalo — dependent on stadium
- Des Moines — dependent on stadium; owner just bought Parma in Serie A

- Monterey, CA — owner of defunct Fresno FC franchise is trying to re-launch here. Seems a bit quixotic to do a D2 club in such a small market to me.
- Pawtucket — local update from last week
- Baltimore & Milwaukee — doesn't seem like anything of true substance, but you can see why USL would want to be there. Two of the biggest markets out there that have no pro soccer and will never be on the MLS radar.


USL League One

Somewhat more serious prospects:

- Portland [ME], Manchester, Fort Wayne, Spokane. DMB is behind the Fort Wayne bid.

Longer shots:

- Athens [GA], Huntsville, Lexington, NW Arkansas, Sioux Falls



I'd like to see some MLS2 reserve teams drop from the Championship to League One. The reserve teams for Seattle, Portland, and Philly, for example, are mostly made up of 17/18/19 year olds and they're getting smashed by other USL teams. League One would be a better level for them, and they'd also help seed the league. A key factor for the long-term success of League One is getting over the hump in geographic coverage so that they can regionalize the schedule like the Championship has. Once you know travel costs have been curbed to a certain degree, it makes it that much easier for more D3 clubs to launch.
 

Domer

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Another factor in this is going to be the upcoming bloodletting in MiLB. Would the Pawtucket stadium proposal have gotten a second look if the PawSox were staying? Probably not. At least a handful of those markets TB mentioned are going to lose to their MiLB team in the upcoming reshuffle, so I’d expect some more motivated local governments once this realignment shakes out.
 

67YAZ

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SD Loyal walked off again after a Phoenix player hurled a homophobic slur at Collin Martin, former Loons player who has been out for a couple years now. Landon describes the incident and reasoning below. Total respect to Donovan and the players for taking this stand at what may we’ll be the cost of a playoff spot. I wish more had their courage and clarity.

 
Last edited:

Pesky Pole

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I'm happy to see the Loyal take that stand and Donovan does a great job explaining everything that happened in that clip you linked.

All of this begs the question - Is this a USL issue or is this happening in every game in every league and the Loyal are just the first team to stand up to the behavior? We've certainly seen this in Italy and Germany but it's jarring to see it two weeks in a row in USL. I see people getting on the ref in other places but kudos to him for pulling the red card when he thought the homophobic remark was in the response. I'm not entirely sure what the comment was in the first place but sounds like it was Jamaican slang which the ref says he didn't understand. I'd like to hear why the Phoenix coach refused to sub out the player - sounds like the excuse is "they are investigating". Given what happened last week and the situation of being down 3-1, why wouldn't you remove the player so the game could continue.

Edit - now I see that the Phoenix coach told Donovan "it's a part of soccer". Eff that dude if he thinks that.
 

DJnVa

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My kid got named to the traveling squad for the U23 game this weekend. I'll let you know if he should be added to the USMNT list of prospects.
 

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More on the Loyal walkoff, which has attracted praise from many corners including Alex Morgan:


The walkoff moment:

View: https://twitter.com/DSmithShow/status/1311511548565749760


Very few of these players are ever going to make a fortune in this game, but they'll be telling their kids about the time they stood up for something, even when it cost them.
 

DJnVa

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Life on a UPSL U23 team:

7 am--Meet bus for 4.5 hour ride to northern Maryland (16 players on trip for 2 games)
11 am--First game of day. My son gets minutes at DM (not exactly sure how many, but a decent amount). 2-1 loss, but my son is, +1 on the day.
2 pm--Club feeds them (not sure what exactly)
4 pm--Second game of day. My son gets minutes out wide and up top. 2-0 loss, but he's not on the field for either goal allowed.
11:30--Home
 

Titans Bastard

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Austin Bold are the best font in American soccer! They are a dead man walking whose only chance at long-term success was hoping that Precourt's Austin FC project fell through.

A bunch of teams aren't sticking around for another year. Specifically, a bunch of MLS2 teams. It sounds like MLS will soon announce a new prospective D3 league that will consist of U23-ish teams from MLS clubs. I have a variety of thoughts about this, but I want to hear what MLS has in store. The status quo of MLS2 teams scattered across USL isn't especially stable for a couple of reasons, so it's not shocking to see a change. But...we'll see.

 

Awesome Fossum

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As if the metro wasn't already crowded enough:

USL League Two is pleased to confirm
@RoundRockSC
as its newest member, with the Texas-based club set to begin competing in the Mid South Division in 2021.
View: https://mobile.twitter.com/USLLeagueTwo/status/1319337875679432704


I agree the Bold are dead men walking, but the overhead isn't as high as normal since they own their stadium and they use the race track employees for most of the non soccer work. I think I'd explore an NWSL team -- stadium is a great size for it.
 

Titans Bastard

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Some people on Twitter would lay into me for this, but USL League Two (a.k.a. the former PDL a.k.a. not a professional league) is pretty ephemeral. There are a handful of longstanding teams that have really developed a following and a community presence, but it's mostly shoestring operations playing in HS football stadia to small crowds who eventually fold after a number of years.

USL League Two and the NPSL are functionally the Cape Cod League (college players, short season) but without the history or stability and with much bigger travel costs.

Every once in a while, teams from this tier make the jump to the pro ranks, but it's a financially tough decision and few have the funding for it. If they did, they might have gone pro to begin with.
 

Titans Bastard

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USL League One announced Fort Wayne FC as an expansion team today.


DaMarcus Beasley, a Fort Wayne native, is a co-owner. They will be playing in the amateur USL League Two in 2021 and 2022 and moving into the pro ranks of USL League One in 2023. That seems like a slow timeline, but I'd imagine that it is COVID-influenced.
 

DJnVa

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Your UPSL update!

My son is set for his UPSL debut today after a few U23 matches. Hoping he gets a few minutes.
 

DJnVa

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He got 17 minutes of PT. Was a 0-0 game when he got on in 73rd minute. Was almost free on a through ball within 30 seconds but last defender got toe on it. His team lost on a PK in 87th minute. Off keeper, off crossbar, back to player that headed it in.

But he played and realizes he can hold his own. I think he's playing in U23 match tomorrow.

It obviously low-level semipro stuff, but it's cool.

EDIT: Here's the play---ball skipped up on defender and he just poked it wide. That's my son in gray.
35516
 

Titans Bastard

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He's been out of contract for a year and I assumed he retired, but José Francisco Torres is back:

 

Titans Bastard

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An end of season USL update with Jake Edwards.

The biggest takeaway is that he's made it pretty clear that the MLS/USL partnership has run its course. As MLS teams are using their reserve squads more and more like U19 teams, they aren't that competitive in USL (esp D2). They aren't focusing on winning, and they don't draw crowds. I'd expect more and more MLS teams to depart for the as-yet-unannounced D3 development league.

He says they are hoping "at minimum" to announce one new team in the Championship and two in League One. Normally you'd want to see League One getting built out a bit faster, but given COVID any expansion is a positive.