- four players are sent down to live, train and play in D3/USL Pro Orlando on a long term loan, the rest of SKC players get no extra games because they no longer have to field a reserve team.New England Rev
- four players are sent down to live, train and play in D3/USL Pro Rochester on a long term loan, the rest of the NER players get no extra games because they no longer have to field a reserve team.DC United
- four players are sent down to live, train, and play in D3/USL Pro Richmond on a long term loan, the rest of the DCU players get no extra games because they no longer have to field a reserve team.The rest of the MLS Reserve teams
get two extra away games vs D3 USL Pro teams of which there are now only 16 of 19 MLS teams left.
So, in reality the MLS Reserve teams that are left for 2013 now have three fewer MLS Reserve teams to play against. And, while they have added two games, those two games with USL Pro D3 teams will be against weaker teams than last year.
It may be an improvement in the future, but we don't really know that yet.Each of those remaining 16 MLS teams now have three options.http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2013/01/24/mls-exec-usl-pro-partnership-can-change-soccer-us
MLS operated a self-contained Reserve League in recent seasons, but league owners voted in November to give MLS clubs three options for reserve player development moving forward: 1) create an affiliation with an existing USL Pro team; 2) join the USL Pro with a standalone team; or 3) continue to participate in the MLS Reserve League while integrating matches against USL Pro teams.
1. MLS teams can dump most of their short term Reserve league costs altogether by just sending four or more players down to their affiliate D3 USL Pro on long term loans. This is by far the cheapest options for just about all MLS teams. It may become more expensive in the future if the affiliates gain strength and exposure and start asking for more "support" from the MLS teams??
Sounds like they have not yet worked out all the details for this option.
2. MLS teams can chose to build a full team with full time coaches, support personal, and travel expense and enter the team into the longer season USL Pro league. That would cost a lot more overall if USL Pro keeps the same amount of games and the same single table season they have this season. This would be the best option for a team that really is interested in developing their players. We have not heard any teams say they would do this yet?
Hard to see how this would work for a team in the NW when just about all of the current D3 teams are over 1,000+ miles away, that may change if a bunch of new teams spring up in locations nearer MLS clubs. That would put the USL in a risky/tricky place if those teams were not strong teams financially and failed soon after starting up? Like say... in the middle of the season which we have seen before with many USL teams...
3. If more MLS teams chose not to be in MLS Reserve league then the number of games in their own league will be reduced and their season will be "integrated" into the USL Pro league schedule. That has almost as many question on how that might work as the numbers in both leagues change in opposite directions.
We will see just how many MLS teams chose the two more expensive options to create a whole new D3 USL Pro league team, or to maintain a full MLS Reserve league team to play in their own league and be also somehow be involved into the D3 league also.
In the short term the MLS teams win, they get more options. But, in the long term the USL Pro league will win with the huge marketing pulse of brand association it can create with MLS. And they get stuff from the upper division at the same time... A good deal for them. Who really has the most to gain, an who really has the most to lose here?
It will be interesting to see how this works 6-7 years down the road when the USL Pro league has many strong teams and team owners than now and may no longer needs the four MLS players on loan every year and all the headaches that go along with the young D1 prima donnas? Where will MLS development of players image be then?
Only the shadow knows...
Seriously, who really knows what will happen in the future at this point?
We do know one thing, that MLS has admitted that they do not operate a reserve league very will and the second time around has not worked any better than the first.More questions arise:
Maybe, we the fans of US soccer who want a stronger US MNT in the long run should be asking why this second failure of MLS reserve league development is the reality of our current top league?
Could it all have to do with the very structure of MLS itself (controlling the cost of players) and the allocation of profits around to all the owners?
Would the top US league not be better if real competition was seen between all the teams in the top league?
And that maybe one of the biggest "positive" points of a single entity third party ownership of players is that the benefits are reaped mainly by the owners and that trickle down theory is not really a benefit to all that many of the players?
Is this new D3 USL Pro affiliation program the very proof of that huge flaw in the MLS single entity plan?
All good question that will get answered with a bit more time.