California Victory joins the Carolina Railhawks as new USL-1 teams.
Toronto Lynx are demoting to PDL as Toronto FC becomes Canada's MLS entry.
That's 13 for next year, with a small possibility that a couple other shoes may drop by the mid-November AGM in Tampa. There are small rumors that El Paso wants back up. OTOH, there's also small rumors that Virginia Beach may drop to USL-2.
No indication of Miami's fate. Their owners aren't exactly poor, and they may see the team as a training ground for some Brazilians or other Latin players trying to play their way into Mexico or MLS or elsewhere (and make money off that)... or they obviously may not survive the dismal attendance numbers. Usually, you'd hear some noise about Miami's future right now...
Will Frank DuRoss let up on the territorial demands he made (to the tune of $350,000) to the potential Syracuse ownership? Will the sometimes-stated desires in Fresno to go from PDL (where the Fuego averaged 3,066 per game this year) to USL-1 come to fruition? Will the Victory find their buyer in Sacramento (a rumor that's been on for a few months, anyway), or does Sacramento have investors ready to bring a team to fruit-fly town?
Or could the following happen?
California folds. USL finds a temporary replacement.
Three groups are looking at placing MLS in Seattle, one of whom even talks about funding a stadium themselves. Vancouver Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot is in the middle of a long, arduous planning process to build a stadium on (or in, perhaps) the downtown Vancouver waterfront that MIGHT be expandable for MLS- on his dime (Vancouver politics know ONLY long arduous planning processes, the only reason why they would sneeze at a billionaire spending his own money for a new stadium). Merritt Paulson, since buying the PCL Beavers and Timbers, has made noise about bringing MLS to Portland IN PGE Park, with perhaps a hint of building a baseball stadium elsewhere, and rumors from out of town (Boise, for instance) have started that the Beavers may be on the market.
If USL lets go of the Western pro teams, they can probably merge the first and second divisions and have a relatively healthy league, probably only losing a couple of second division wannabes in the process, and also maybe gaining new additions (less travel in the pros might entice the well-drawing Des Moines team out of PDL, for instance).
That scenario has a lot of ifs in it, so don't start making plans right away. ALSO, it is Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Seattle Sounders (though I accept Flounders and various variations on Vancouver and Seattle), and infidels who dare suggest new names should be introduced to the top of Multnomah Falls, with a long look down to the bottom. Don't bend too far over.
Since there's currently 12, you have little choice but to do the math.
There are concrete talks in Victoria, but much of that involves begging the local government to pay for improvements to Royal Athletic Park (where U-20 World Cup games were played during the summer) or for a new stadium in one of the communities west of downtown.
There are some rumors involving Hamilton which seem weak to me.
The annual standard rumor about El Paso moving back up has surfaced, and it is an annual standard rumor.
Sounds like Frank DuRoss and the Rochester brass are preventing Syracuse from reforming... or at least Syracuse brass don't want to pay ANOTHER territorial fee to get back in.
Sports Illustrated and other publications are already citing MLS sources proclaiming that Seattle will be announced for MLS membership with 10 days or so. The apparent timeline involves shutting down the Sounders in USL-1 ASAP and starting up MLS in 2009. What's missing is a new stadium plan, and what's "published rumor" is that Paul Allen is a participant in the new ownership group, meaning they'd be cut a better break at Qwest Field.
California, as mentioned before, is left trying to scrape something together. Miami couldn't even draw well with free beer.
All the rumors in Portland are that the new Timbers owner is committed to find a way to follow S**ttle into MLS. Vancouver's plans for a new downtown stadium are likely easily altered to get them MLS admittance in a reasonable timetable (after 2009, when Toronto's exclusive Canadian MLS rights sunset). The next rumor is Joey Saputo putting aside long-held disdain for the MLS structure and making plans to bring the Impact there in a timeline similar to Vancouver's situation.
Does that kill USL-1? Yes and no. If anything, like I said in the previous post, the solution is a more geographically compact USL pro league (merging 1 and 2) that will probably do alright and attract new franchises. The current situation is obviously untenable for one too many teams.
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My contact says that the USL-1 is falling apart and Frank Marcos is trying to put it back together again. The MLS is not interested in saving it. No surprise there.
The remaining USL teams should try to work out an agreement w/ MLS to essentially be the feeder/development/AAA league.
I think that's what would be best for soccer in this country.
Marcos has been at that game longer. He's also got PDL, W-League, and the Y-Leagues to worry about.
I sense (and little more than sense, BTW, FWIW, CMHAHTD) a bit of a standoff. That standoff might be MLS not wanting to stomp all over PDL and Y just to get USL-1 teams into MLS2, when PDL is probably the true value to MLS (developing college players under pro rules).
BTW, Miami just hired a new coach (Zinho, BTW). It's not like their ownership doesn't have deep pockets; they just seem to be short on common sense when it comes to marketing in America. However, it appears they'll play next year.
California Victory are out. Closed. Done.
The remaining 11 teams will play a 30-game schedule next year, apparently... 3 games against each team.
Note that the release, at the end, mentions possible expansion into California, Texas, and Florida for 2009... though it may not completely play as expansion. California possibly refers to Sacramento interests wanting to put a team in their baseball stadium, OR the Fresno Fuego wanting to jump from PDL... or, preferably, both as a package deal. I'm pretty sure the Texas comment refers to El Paso Patriots wanting to return to USL-1... problem being they really need to bring someone with them to help with travel issues. Florida may be Orlando... kind of squirrelly, because Orlando was supposed to be the Ajax Orlando project before Ajax pulled out, and I suspect this would end up being the West Ham USA project going into Orlando. Does the same fate befall West Ham? Or does the growing infrastructure for American soccer cause more foreign investment? We're already seeing some foreign investment, and the money markets certainly don't hurt those initiatives.
Accused of being a Cyber Terrorist by Joe Newman.
This league (NIFL) is like a frickin' cockroach. You could throw a nuclear bomb at it and it would still survive
So I'd rather spend a quarter of an ABA franchise to repair my car, as opposed to spending a franchise and a half to get a new car that might have some planned obsolescence that causes it to break down 5 days after the end of the warranty period.
-Chuck the Writer