Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
March 12, 2018 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Liga Mexican de Beisbol: The Vaqueros (Cowboys) Union Laguna team from the Triple-A level LMB, or Mexican Baseball League, has been renamed the Algodoneros (Cotton Growers) de Union Laguna for the 2018 season. A previous team by that name played in the LMB in the 1970s. The Algodoneros are based in Torreon (Coahuila), but the Laguna region includes the metropolitan area formed by the cities of Torreon and Gomez Palacio (Durango). Since the league's Tecolotes de los Dos Laredo (Owls of Two Laredos) team will be playing games in both Laredo (TX) and Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas, Mexico) starting with the 2018 season, some other U.S. border cities like Tucson (AZ), San Isidro (CA) and El Paso (TX) have expressed interest in having their own LMB team playing on both borders. The LMB already has the Toros de Tijuana (Baja California) team just across the border from San Isidro.
Pecos Spring League: The independent Pecos League started the seventh season of its Pecos Spring League this week with six teams called the Topeka Train Robbers, Salina Stockade, Garden of Gears, Houston Apollos, Hollywood Stars and Coastal Kingfish. All games are played at a complex in Houston during the month of March. Spring league players pay for the opportunity to be evaluated by the Pecos League and other independent leagues that are looking to sign players for the upcoming summer season.
Northwoods League: The ownership group trying to bring a summer-collegiate Northwoods League team to Waukesha (WI) has revived its effort at a new location in the city, but it still needs final approval.
American Basketball Association: The ABA recently announced the first team in its proposed new ABA Australia league will be the Sydney Razorbacks. The league also announced a new team called the Woodbridge (VA) Wolves has been added to the ABA for the 2018-19 season.
East Coast Basketball League: The springtime semi-pro ECBL started its fourth season last weekend with 16 teams aligned in a Northern Conference with four-team Northeast and Northwest divisions and a Southern Conference with four-team Southeast and Southwest divisions. Gone from last season are the Charlotte Golden Bulls, High Point (NC) Hawks and the Carolina Showtime travel team. New teams include the Charlotte Tribe, Rowan County (NC) Bulls and Hickory (NC) Hoyas, which was a 2017 travel team. New ownership took over the Greenville (NC) market and replaced last season's Carolina Kings with the East Carolina Cardinals. The Savannah Storm was renamed the C-Port Trojans in the off-season.
American Flag Football League: The proposed new AFFL will start its U.S. Open of Football next week that will feature 128 amateur flag football teams competing in a single-elimination tournament in various regional locations until early July 2018. The eventual winner of the amateur America's Championship will compete with the winner of a professional bracket, which will involve four pro teams playing its single-elimination tournament in early July. The top amateur and top pro team will then compete for a $1 million prize in an Ultimate Final scheduled for July 19, 2018 in Houston. The AFFL was launched with an inaugural trial game between two teams in San Jose on June 27, 2017. The league plays a 7-on-7 style of flag football. When first announced, the AFFL was planning to have eight league-owned teams in an inaugural 2018 season.
Midwest Professional Indoor Football: The MPIF's Cincinnati Flex team has suspended operations just prior to the start of the league's 2018 season that started last weekend. The Flex had joined the MPIF for the league's second season in 2017. The West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) team, which was party to an injunction preventing the team from playing in any league other than Champions Indoor Football (CIF) during the 2018 season, has come under new ownership and will play a five-game schedule as part of the 2018 MPIF. The new ownership has filed a new team application with the CIF for the 2019 season and it is to include a large deposit. The CIF has approved the team playing the 2018 season in the MPIF to satisfy sponsorship agreements entered into by previous ownership. The other 2018 MPIF teams include the Indianapolis Enforcers and four Chicago area teams called the Chicago Blitz, Midway Marauders, Westchester Apaches and Windy City Ravens.
ECHL: The group trying to bring an ECHL team to the Mile One Center in St. John's (New Brunswick) has reached an agreement with the arena's current tenant, the St. John's Edge basketball team in the National Basketball League of Canada. This should allow an ECHL team to share the arena and start play for the 2018-19 season. Final plans are expected to be announced next week. The city's St. John's IceCaps team in the American Hockey League was relocated to Laval (Quebec) after the 2016-17 season.
Major League Soccer: The state of Ohio and the city of Columbus are suing the ownership of the MLS's Columbus Crew SC to prevent the team from relocating to Austin. The state passed a law in 1996 that forces a sports team that uses public resources to give a six month notice for relocation and allow the local municipality a chance to purchase the team. The league and the Columbus Crew SC ownership disagree with the interpretation of the law. Meanwhile, the ownership of the Columbus Crew SC has identified another potential site in the Austin area that could potentially become home to a new stadium for the team.
Liga MX Femenil: Mexico's top women's league known as Liga MX Femenil started its inaugural 2017-18 two-part season in July 2017 with 16 teams aligned in 2 eight-team groups. All teams are affiliated with teams in the top men's professional league called Liga MX. The men's Liga MX has 18 teams, but only Puebla and Chiapas were unable to sponsor 2017-18 women's teams due to financial restrictions. Similar to the Liga MX, the Liga MX Femenil played its first part of the season known as the Apertura from July to November 2017 and is currently playing a second part of the season known as the Clausura that runs from early January to early April 2018. All Liga MX Femenil teams play a 14-game season.
United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The men's PDL announced its first new member for the 2019 season will be the Discoveries SC, based in Rock Hill (SC).
National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL had to revise its 2018 schedule with the recent loss of the Boston Breakers team causing a reduction in league membership to nine teams. The men's Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer is reported to be interested in forming a women's team in the NWSL, possibly as soon as the 2019 season. A Vancouver team would become a natural rival for NWSL teams in the Northwest called the Portland Thorns FC and Seattle Reign FC. Another new potential NWSL team is one that would be operated under a partnership between Barcelona and the MLS's new Los Angeles FC franchise.
U.S. Arena Soccer League: The new USARL, which is affiliated with Major League Futsal (MLF), started its men's pro division late last month. The league currently lists 11 teams located in Arizona, Baja California (Mexico), New Mexico and Nebraska. The USARL is also planning a men's amateur USARL Premier league, along with a women's USARL Pro and a women's USARL Premier league. Many of the current men's USARL pro teams also operate futsal teams in the MLF Men's Pro League.
United Ultimate League: The new UUL, which was a proposed mixed-gender 6-on-6 professional ultimate frisbee league planning to start in 2019 with eight teams, announced it will not take the field next year after a Kickstarter funding campaign failed to reach its goal. The initial proposed teams included a North Division with teams called the Boston Whalers, New York Kraken, Philadelphia Pride and Washington Generals, and a South Division with the Carolina Cutlass (Raleigh, NC), Nashville Tristars, Atlanta Hounds and Florida Gulls (Jacksonville).
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames, which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is available for sale at www.amazon.com.
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