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United Soccer Leagues Week in Review 3/15/2009

2009 March 15
by Brian Quarstad

uslIt’s been a busy week in USL-1 with new signings and some teams starting their pre-season training. A number of teams played exhibition games and Vancouver finished up their pre-season training in Africa and are headed home. Cleveland City Stars finally announced where they will be playing their home games and the news was disappointing to say the least. We’re still waiting on Miami FC’s final word on whether they will remain in the league — word should be coming after an important meeting this weekend. Sadly, it looks as if we will be saying goodbye to Seattle and Portland as they may be moving to MLS in 2011. We will find out this week. There is also news of a couple of new USL teams that may be added for the 2010 season. One will be in New York City competing with MLS. Another Florida team is in the works with Pachuca being the owner. Find all that and more in this week’s edition of USL Week in Review.


League News

Dylan Butler at Soccer by Ives is saying that New York City will enter back into the USL market in 2010 with a new team. USL previously had a team in New York called the Rough Riders and the new team will use the same venue for games. According to this report, the team has plans to eventually build a soccer-specific stadium.
Ives brings us more news about USL’s future teams. “Sources say Pachuca is on the verge of purchasing a club that will likely play in Orlando, Fla., and English side Crystal Palace owns Crystal Palace Baltimore, a USL-2 side that is looking to move up to USL-1 as early as next season.”

Jen Chang of ESPN Soccernet asks the question, Is the USL actually a better league than MLS? His answer… No, but it’s a lot better than most MLS supporters believe it to be and the gap is narrow with many players on USL teams that could easily step into MLS teams.

League founder Francisco Marcos says, “Fine, give them (MLS) three. But give USL one, or at least a play-in game.”
“You’ve heard all the reasons or excuses, whatever you want to call them,” USL Commissioner Francisco Marcos says of MLS’ relative inferiority to his league in the CCL. “All I can say is, the results are there, you can look them up … We have proven that we belong.

USL-1 joins CONCACAF elite. The Numbers show USL’s top flight among the region’s best.

Kartik Krishnaiyer at MLS Talk with some stinging comments for both the front offices MLS and USL.

Making sense of the US Open Cup. This is an article from the Seattle Times for those that aren’t familiar with the cup competition.


Team News

aztexlogAustin Aztex
The Aztex signed native Zach Pope to a contract.

The Austin team defeated the MLS Champion Columbus Crew 1-0 on Saturday evening in Austin.
The Aztex travel to Utah to take on another MLS squad, Real Salt Lake, this Saturday (Mar. 21) at the new Rio Tinto Stadium. The Aztex return home to Nelson Field for their final pre-season exhibition on April 3 against the Puerto Rico Islanders.

railhawksCarolina Railhawks
The Carolina RailHawks will play Honduran powerhouse CD Olimpia Friday, March 27. interviews coach Martin Rennie. Good stuff! Read this and you’ll understand why I’ve been raving about Rennie for some time now.

Railhawks defeat the New England Revolution 1-0 by a lone goal by newly signed USL veteran Mark Schulte.

charleston Charleston Battery
The Battery continued with the Challenge Cup this week playing two games. The Battery fell to Real Salt Lake 2-1.

The Battery ended up going winless in Carolina Cup losing the third game to DC United 2-0.

Real Salt Lake take the cup going 3-0 in the pre-season tournament.

Cleveland City Stars
The Cleveland City Stars have signed midfielder Terrence McAllister after the Trinidad native’s standout performance during February’s international invite-only combine. McAllister joins the club from Trinidad’s Joe Public, a participant in the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League.

The team announced that it would play its games this year in Bedford at newly named “Middlefield Cheese” Stadium.
Unfortunately, it’s another high school football stadium complete with football lines and fake field turf. I thought Umbro, who owns the majority of USL, was demanding that teams start playing in real soccer specific stadiums? First the Aztex, now this — where is USL’s credibility? Here’s a photo with football lines, track and all. What’s funny is and the Cleveland web site have a very different photo of the stadium in their announcement. You can see that one here and it avoids a shot of the turf, lines and track.

miami_fcMiami FC
We’re still awaiting an announcement from Miami FC. Inside Minnesota Soccer learned from the club that Traffic Sports president, Julio Mariz from Brazil, was making the trip to Miami this weekend to meet with the team’s president, Aaron Davidson, to make a final decision. Inside Minnesota Soccer interviewed Davidson on Friday. You can listen to that interview here.

One big question in this and it’s one I asked Davidson, “where is USL in all of this?” Davidson answers candidly.

I don’t know if USL has even made a statement about this throughout the whole ordeal. Why would your parent organization not have anything to say about this? This again backs up what I have said here previously, USL-1 teams need a commissioner and USL needs to start becoming more vocal and present in the media. They are about to lose two more teams to MLS this week and there’s never a word from the league. This is a very sad situation.

For those USL officials who read this, I don’t hate the organization. I love USL and Marcos and all the things the league has done in creating a strong pyramid foundation. However, there’s a time when you need to step up and be heard and back up your USL-1 teams who are your life blood. It may already be too late, but if there ever was a time to do so it’s now.

Minnesota ThunderMinnesota Thunder
Nic Platter was released back to the Thunder by DC United. Inside Minnesota Soccer interviewed Nick Platter and he explains why he was released from the MLS team. The Thunder supporters are glad to have the outstanding keeper back–as is the team.

The Thunder opened their training on Friday. Inside Minnesota Soccer interviews some of the new and old Thunder players after their first workout.

The Thunder were defeated 4-0 in an exhibition game with the Kansas City Wizards of MLS. Oddly, the Thunder played this game with only one official practice before the friendly which was a fund raiser for a Soccer Club from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the game was played.
The teams then played a second game that was shortened due to cold and a very muddy field which was also reported to be a very small pitch. Here’s a running commentary of that 1-1 draw.

montreal_impactMontreal Impact
The Impact returned to the field looking to forget Mexican meltdown.

timberslogoPortland Timbers
There’s lots of Timbers news this week. The Timbers opened their preseason camp.

The Timbers picked up Alex Nimo on loan from Real Salt Lake. They also signed MLS veteran midfielder Ryan Pore and former Colorado Rapids defender Stephen Keel for the 2009 season.

The City Council in Portland approved financing of $60 million to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to Portland, but hasn’t resolved how to raise a quarter of the money. The $60 million would go to renovating PGE Park to meet MLS specifications, and building a new ballpark for the Portland Beavers, the city’s Triple-A baseball team.

The Portland Timbers were defeated by the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer 1-0 in a pre-season exhibition Saturday night.

islandersPuerto Rico Islanders
The Islanders added Kyle Veris to the squad. The 6’4 central defender will bring Major League Soccer as well as European experience to the Islanders. He spent the 2008 season playing for IL Hodd of the Norwegian First Division where he played 17 matches as a central defender and right back. He also played for the Galaxy.

BoriQa has a great cartoon on his blog and in The Offsides Bayamon is where Juan Ramon Loubriel stadium is located in Puerto Rico. It’s also the home of USL-1 Islanders and the location they are now calling the “The Central American Cemetery” or “El Cementerio Centroamericano” for all the teams Puerto Rico has recently defeated there. Here is Bori’s cartoon.

The Islanders will now play Cruz Azul in their next CONCACAF Champions League game. Here’s another cartoon predicting Cruz Azul’s future.

rhinosRochester Rhinos
The Rhinos lost Scott Palguta who signed a contract with the Colorado Rapids. The 26-year-old defender is from Denver. Steve Guppy, former assistant coach and player is now with the Rapids and is said to have encouraged the move.

whitecapsVancouver Whitecaps
A radio station in Vancouver is saying they have learned that MLS executives will be in Vancouver on Wednesday to make an announcement that the Whitecaps will get MLS expansion team for 2011.

The Whitecaps dropped their first match in Tanzania. Here’s video highlights of the game.

The team recorded their first-ever win on the African continent with a 2-1 victory over Tanzanian Premier League outfit Simba Sports Club.

Whitecaps drew their final game 0-0 with the Tanzania National Team.

The Whitecaps will return home from Tanzania on Thursday and continue with their preparations for the 2009 season. They will play four training matches versus the University of British Columbia (March 24), Seattle University (March 29), USL Premier Development League side Seattle Wolves FC (April 1), and USL-1 rivals Portland Timbers (April 3).

One Response
  1. Pat permalink
    March 17, 2009

    This is a really nice feature, BQ. Finding USL news is so tough. I’m sure there will be some weeks where there isn’t a whole lot out there, but this is still a great idea. Keep up the good work.

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