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Austin Aztex Likely to Announce Move to Orlando, Florida

2010 October 22
by Brian Quarstad

IMS has learned that Austin Aztex owner Phil Rawlins will likely announce next week that he is moving his Austin Aztex to Orlando, Florida.

Rawlins, a native of the UK who sits on the board of directors of Stoke City in England, has actively been looking for new investors for his Austin Aztex. Rawlins has been noncommittal this past summer as to which direction his team will go next season.

The Aztex played Division 2 the last two seasons and played in USL-PDL the previous year. In 2009 they were involved with USL-1 and this past spring and summer played in the United States Soccer Federation’s D2 Pro League which US Soccer sanctioned in 2010.

Rawlins has met with United Soccer Leagues (USL) officials who announced in September that they would no longer attempt to sanction D2 soccer with the tough new financial standards imposed by the USSF. They instead decided to reorganize as a D3 league (formerly USL-2) and would be called USL Pro.

Rawlins attended a USL Pro meeting in Tampa, Florida on September 8th. USL announced at that meeting that USL Pro will attempt to create regional conferences across the United States to build natural rivalries and reduce travel-related costs. They also announced they would be giving more control of league decisions to a board of governors comprised of team owners. According to the USL, the board will make all major decisions for the league including expansion, competition format and commercial strategy.

Rawlins also met with  North American Soccer League (NASL) officials who are attempting to win sanctioning of USSF Division-2 soccer in 2011. The Aztex owner met with Carolina RailHawk owner Selby Wellmen before the D2 standards meeting held August 9th in New York by US Soccer.

According to numerous sources, Rawlins has been looking for investors to cut his losses and been looking at options beside Austin for an increased fan base and reduced travel expenses. Currently the closest team to Austin is St. Louis which is 850 miles.

Austin averaged 3,733 fans this season up 25% from last season. The Aztex average attendance ranked 6th of 12 teams and had the largest increase of all teams in the league.

The Aztex were thought to be a key player in the NASL’s sanctioning of D2 with only six teams currently in the NASL bid. Those teams are: Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Miami FC, Montreal Impact, FC Tampa Bay and the Puerto Rico Islanders. The NASL bid has been submitted to the USSF but it’s now believed the situation is still liquid with US Soccer and the bid can still be modified. The sale of Jeff Cooper’s AC St. Louis to Missouri native Ryan Woods is still pending and the NSC Minnesota Stars still are attempting to find an investor or new owner for their team.

Phil Rawlins

It’s likely USL will announce next week that Rawlins has found new investors from outside the US and will move to Orlando and join the USL Pro League. They will also form a relationship with Steve Donner, formerly with the Rochester Rhinos and the Orlando Titans Lacrosse team.

The Donner group were originally scheduled to be a D2 team in 2011 but the Titans have since gone out of business, but only temporarily, according to Donner.

One source told IMS that Donner would use his previous experience in running the day-to-day operations of the team and ticket sales while Rawlins would focus in on the on-field operations.

Aztex coach Adrian Heath recently inked a new contract keeping him with the organization until 2013.

If the Aztex do move they will certainly be missed in the Austin community. Rawlins and his wife Kay have made sure the team was very involved with the Austin community and took home the Austin Chamber of Commerce Community Relations Award the last two years.

Austin soccer supporters have worked hard to grow their numbers and spent considerable time promoting the team. With that growth came several successful supporters web sites that have been up and running for several years.

USL plans on announcing as many as 20 teams next week as new additions to their USL Pro League and will attempt to create multiple conferences their first year with an international footprint. Several teams in the US and Puerto Rico have already been announced including the Charleston Battery who have played in both D2 and D3 and won the 6-team USL-2 (D3) championship this past season. A Ft. Lauderdale team is also planned and is expected to be announced soon.

“There has been an overwhelmingly positive marketplace response since the time of initial unveiling of USL PRO in early September,” responded USL President Tim Holt when asked about the Aztex move. “As a result, we do anticipate additional exciting announcements regarding USL PRO in the coming days.” Holt went on to say he would not comment on rumors or speculation.

60 Responses
  1. Trevor permalink
    October 22, 2010

    This is a really terrible loss for Austin and the Aztex supporters.
    I especially liked the paragraph in this post regarding the work those people have done to grow the fanbase. It’s too bad that even though USSF is trying to firm up the ground of D2 soccer in the states the actual landscape is still so uncertain.

  2. thesuperrookie permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Bombshell.

    I just hope that they change their horrible name.

  3. smatthew permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Well this is a nice punch in the gut of the Aztex supporters. Is it wrong to hope this team fails in Orlando?

  4. thesuperrookie permalink
    October 22, 2010

    The proven track record of Donner’s “success” in Rochester would lead one to believe that this team in Orlando will be just fine.

    /toungefirmlyincheek

  5. @jodymcd permalink
    October 22, 2010

    I’m still not fully convinced this is happening. I’ve already bought season tickets for next season. Why would they sell them so early without a commitment to stay in Austin?

  6. October 22, 2010

    I’ve exchanged texts and vmails with Aztex owner and President Phil Rawlins. Nothing against Brian and Inside Minnesota Soccer, as his historically consistent and accurate reporting is what freaked us out when we saw this, but Phil termed the move as a “rumor”. The organization is looking for additional investors for the long term viability of the team. He said there were some investors who were a bit concerned about the viability of Austin as a soccer market. However, this is rubbish if you look at the year on year growth in attendance for the Aztex, as well as the fact that Austin itself was the 7th largest audience during the World Cup this summer.

    At this point, I still consider a move out of Austin a possible outcome, however, a remote one.

    Again, thanks to Brian for being top notch on these. I just hope this turns out to be one article that doesn’t come true. If the Aztex were to leave Austin, there would be a lot of fans who would not only feel betrayed, but exceptionally angry at the action. I would include myself in that.

    Matthew
    President, Chantico’s Army (Aztex Supporters Group)

  7. Mike in Austin permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Just contacted their media relations person and they are putting together a statement on this article and will release it around 10:30a CT.

  8. October 22, 2010

    No one moves a team just because they want to piss you off.

  9. robert scorca permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Although I am a supporter of Miami FC/Strikers and would welcome a third club in the state (and possibly NASL) it would be bad coming at the expense of as large a state as Texas. Texas would be without a D2 club. I was looking forward to Texas forming an Austin- San Antonio rivalery.

  10. October 22, 2010

    For fans, both in Austin and around the world, who do not want to see the Aztex move…

    Email info@chanticosarmy.com to show your support for keeping the team in Austin. Tell them your opinion and support us in our effort to keep professional soccer in Austin.

    If you’re on Twitter, then Tweet the following (or retweet if you follow @Chanticos_Army or @Aztex_Matchcast…

    Retweet this @austinaztex soccer fans and supporters, so we can keep pro soccer in Austin! KEEP THE AZTEX IN AUSTIN!!! #KeeptheAztexinAustin

  11. JXU permalink
    October 22, 2010

    I am not religious, but I am praying that this isn’t true.

  12. thesuperrookie permalink
    October 22, 2010

    @jodymcd permalink
    October 22, 2010

    I’m still not fully convinced this is happening. I’ve already bought season tickets for next season. Why would they sell them so early without a commitment to stay in Austin?

    I remember there being a lot of folks putting down a season ticket deposit for the Thunder in ’09 only to see their team disappear, so the precedent is there for something like this to happen.

  13. thesuperrookie permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Why Orlando? Why not move to Minneapolis. :)

  14. Trevor permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Yeah, cause the Twin Cities really supported the last new team that was brought in.

  15. Bluesfan permalink
    October 22, 2010

    @JXU

    Who are you praying to then?

  16. ERic permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Well, hell. I’d gotten an email about this a while ago, but ignored it as ‘ridiculous’. I mean, the Aztex have signed a three year agreement with the school district to play at House Park. Got a three year agreement with Adrian, and Adrian has talked so glowing about Austin and the appreciation he’s developed for the town. That’s just a couple of the reasons that I had a hard time believing that the rumor was anything but seriously deluded.

    Then the Aztex managed to sell Eddie Johnson during the season and get him loaned back, and no-one was the wiser until the playoff game in Montreal.

    Brian has generally been pretty darn good in his reporting.

    I heard that Phil is in Atlanta this week for some meetings.

    And when I’m honest with myself, with the way things are going, Austin having a league to play in will be very difficult, what with D2 sanctioning being up in the air, and there being no other USL Pro teams anywhere near us.

    It’s all too easy for me to imagine that Phil’s making the smart financial move.

    Anxious to see the Aztex press release… and concerned that it won’t actually make me feel any better.

  17. Miami Ultra permalink
    October 22, 2010

    For the sake of Austin fans I hope this is not true. I’d love to see a team in Orlando but not at the expense of another city. Plus going USL Pro means they wouldn’t play Miami FC(Strikers) or Tampa, the closest team would still be quite a distance from them. Unless that last bit is also true and USL Pro also intends to have a team in Fort Lauderdale that would compete for fans with the Strikers.

    Another screwy offseason awaits.

  18. Austinite permalink
    October 22, 2010

    jodymcd: “I’m still not fully convinced this is happening. I’ve already bought season tickets for next season. Why would they sell them so early without a commitment to stay in Austin?”

    If they sell a bunch of 2011 Season Tix now, perhaps Rawlins can show investors that the club has support in Austin.

    Or he will make a lot of people kinda mad on his way out of town.

  19. October 22, 2010

    You guys may want to check out Adam Soucie’s Twitter account. He has more information on the situation that I did not reveal.

    http://twitter.com/adamsoucie

  20. Brian permalink
    October 22, 2010

    The word from St. Louis is that Jeff Cooper has yet to find ANY additional investors for either the team or the Soccer Park. Ryan Woods was thought to be a guy that had some interest in bailing out the franchise, but he’s been in some real financial trouble lately.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/print-edition/2010/10/22/woods-suing-california-real-estate.html

    http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2010/10/11/story6.html

  21. Garrett permalink
    October 22, 2010

    I’m curios about the Ft. Lauderdale USL team. Would they share the stadium with the Strikers? Is it actually the Strikers moving to USL (which would mean Traffic is giving up on the NASL). I think I can actually agree with an Ultra for once, and say that this would be a terrible idea.

    In regards to Orlando, I’m really disappointed by this as a Tampa fan. With the construction of a high speed rail that would literally dump people off at a downtown stadium (whoops, did I say that?), the Rowdies become a two market team. I know we have fans in Orlando and this is going to hurt the Rowdies a little bit.

    So can NASL still get to 8? Doesn’t sound like it.

  22. October 22, 2010

    Traffic is not giving up on anything. I expect you may be hearing more from that end of things next week. Most likely they would no share a stadium. Remember, we are talking D3 with different more lax standards. I would expect that most of your USL Pro teams will be playing in high school stadiums, at least at first. D2 have minimums on stadium seating and D3 has lower standards. Without looking it up I believe D2 is min. 5,000.

  23. Soccer Boy permalink
    October 22, 2010

    I am beginning to think SuperRookie was not honest with people in MN when he moved to Florida. I think he will be starting in nets for the Orlando Aztex next season, be become some sort of silent partner in the deal. He just wanted to get settled before Austin announced their move. I smell a conspiracy that should be fully investigated!

  24. Jay permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Terrible to hear about the Aztex. They had a decent to bad logo and a worse name, but the city and those fans deserve something more. I can see the MLS setting up shop there one day. Hopefully until than there can be another club however.

  25. Don Jones permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Well, should the Aztex leave, we at the Austin Posse stand ready and willing to bridge the gap in Austin football. http://www.austinposse.com

  26. jmb321 permalink
    October 22, 2010

    -”USL plans on announcing as many as 20 teams next week as new additions to their USL Pro League and will attempt to create multiple conferences their first year with an international footprint.”-

    How many of these teams will be from “new” money? And by new money I mean, teams not moving from one location to another or moving up from PDL. Precious few I suspect.

    This begs the question, Brian, whether these teams are paying the entire (or any!) of the published USLPRO franchise fee. Doubt if you will get an answer to that question….

    So this comes down to USL just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic because they are unable to entice new lifeboats to save the cause. The only way to grow lower division soccer is to find new investors dedicated to the sport and committed to the proper regional based, expense appropriate business model.

    Hope for the best but it is doubtful that current USL management is capable of getting new investors to commit to them as the catalyst for this business model.

  27. JXU permalink
    October 22, 2010

    They appear to basically be confirming that a move to Orlando is an option they are considering:

    http://www.austinaztex.com/news/headlines/index.html?article_id=464

    “The organization is aware of the rumors that have been circulating about the future direction of the Aztex. In these difficult economic times, the ownership group has been working hard to pursue additional investors to secure the long-term future of the club and continues to do so. At this point in time, there is nothing concrete to report on that front, but we will continue to pursue all of our options and will make an announcement as soon as anything is solidified.”

  28. ERic permalink
    October 22, 2010

    From the Aztex http://austinaztex.com/news/headlines/index.html?article_id=464

    “The organization is aware of the rumors that have been circulating about the future direction of the Aztex. In these difficult economic times, the ownership group has been working hard to pursue additional investors to secure the long-term future of the club and continues to do so. At this point in time, there is nothing concrete to report on that front, but we will continue to pursue all of our options and will make an announcement as soon as anything is solidified.”

    Well, don’t I just feel so much better now.

  29. Bart permalink
    October 22, 2010

    JMB321

    I think the more correct question is to ask how many NASL owners paid an entrance fee for going into the NASL. You might find that question to parallel your USL question, and I doubt you will get an answer to that either.

    BQ, interesting choice of the word that “Traffic” is not giving up on anything. Not the NASL team owners, but Traffic. And that is the crux of the problem with NASL. It is controlled by Traffic, which is at odds with MLS/SUM. But for their ties to CONCACAF, this horse would have been riden hard and put away wet.

  30. Wayne permalink
    October 22, 2010

    If this happens, Rochester will join USL Pro. Good Lord.

  31. October 22, 2010

    Bart, my response was specific to Garret who said: “(which would mean Traffic is giving up on the NASL)”

    Not really so interesting, just addressing the question.

  32. Sounder74 permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Orlando!!! yah of course their Magic and the Marlins get a lot fan support . The problem with Orlando is the same problem with Miami no one is originally form their. I think City like ORLANDO, VEGAS and Miami are going to be hard to put teams in because of that. I think maybe Phil Rawlins should wait to see how the D2 sanction work out cause it the NASL fails to get sanction then there is a possibility that Miami Tampa and San Antonio will move it to the USL Pro league. Just wait he before you moving this team two one of the worst sports city in the US.

  33. jmb321 permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Entrance fees are not the issue, the issue is real commitment from new investors to lower division soccer in this country. NASL’s business model as it is currently manifested is catastrophically flawed. Running around North America when you average 3K attendance is nuts!

    But the level of business acumen of current management of USL is so questionable it is doubtful they can attract serious investors to grow the sport.

  34. ERic permalink
    October 22, 2010

    @Sounder74. The problem is that even if the NASL isn’t sanctioned, San Antonio’s not looking at joining what ever league (and would they join the USL if the NASL isn’t sanctioned?) until ’12. That would still leave Austin next year trying to play in the USL PRO in a regional group centered in either S. California (it sounds like that group will be announced soon) or the Southeast. Neither of which are appropriate for Austin to be a part of. I’m sure that none of those teams would want to travel here, and it actually wouldn’t sufficiently improve Austin’s travel expenses.

  35. Bart permalink
    October 22, 2010

    jmb321

    But the level of business acumen of current management of USL is so questionable it is doubtful they can attract serious investors to grow the sport.

    Who are you referring to in your cast of characters as being current management at USL?

  36. Trevor permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Bart, the USL works on a business plan that has seen 70% of its franchises fold. Even if we leave aside the fact that 100% of those folded teams paid monumental fees to an entity which did little or nothing to support them, that’s bad business. History alone calls into question the business acumen of those who run the USL.

    Yes, NASL has some SERIOUS problems. I will not make light of those problems. No, they may not even be sanctioned for all their posturing.

    But your comments are inflammatory and, well, they’re silly. Chill.

  37. scfc1981 permalink
    October 22, 2010

    I think it’s totally wrong to move a team from its ‘birthplace’. I hope the story isnt true for the sake of all the aztex fans.

  38. Strikers Return permalink
    October 22, 2010

    The D2 situation just seems to get worse by the day. I logged onto ESPN this afternoon and was able to watch gamecasts of both English and German D2 games. Actual gamecasts, play by play, player stats and bios, everything, about D2 squads across the ocean.

    I’m not in any way putting out there that we are even within a decade of D2 having remotely that kind of relevance in our own country. But I am pretty much fed up with what has gone on over the last year. You’ve got people and organizations on all sides out for only one thing – themselves. From simply a business perspective, it does make sense. But come on, who in their right mind owns a D2 soccer team in the US unless they are in it for the love of the sport and support it’s growth over the long term. There is no money to be made in it right now. You’d have a better chance to make a profit opening up a comic book store on the corner!

    NO ONE has taken a step back and said, you know what, we really ought to think about getting our act together and build a proper pyramid that works at all levels for this game in our country. The closest thing we have had to that is the USSF requirements for D2. But even though I think most would agree they are good building blocks for a more stable D2 foundation, they’re hurting more than helping at this point in the process.

    NASL was our ONLY shot at D2 for 2011, and the USL strategy of let’s go gangbusters and try to foil NASL in every way we can by pretending we’ve somehow found a new way to run a league that, although looking pretty much the same as all of our past failures, will somehow be different this time – is just amking things worse. USL, you lost the battle, but you still have an opportunity to play a crucial role in this country’s pyramid and future for the sport by pulling back and building up D3 and D4. But instead they’re just trying to be spiteful that they lost the D2 struggle and are marketing themselves as “the best league outside of MLS.” It’s just so much crap, and no good for the sport. 20 teams next year? Really? When D3 only fielded what, 6 this year? And now they’ve duped Rochester and Austin into relegating themselves with no hope of EVER regaining D2 status. Guaranteed by the time D3 finishes next year, we’ll be talking about even more failed franchises. But they’ll say never mind, we’ve got 10 more lined up to join us in 2012! Just the same cycel over and over….we’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again until some fundamental things change.

    Sorry to rant fellas, but I’m beyond frustrated. So sad that despite an uptick in interest from new fans of the game this year due to the World Cup, that those in a position to take advantage of that and parlay it into some positives for the growth and stability of the pyramid can’t stop being petty and stupid instead. And I’m not even an Aztex supporter….LOL

  39. Bart permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Trevor

    Puhhhleeeze…… not that I care one way or the other, but the fact that USL has made major changes to how it does business since it was sold seems to be ignored or forgotten by you. Candidly, we have yet to see what or how USL will operate as the new owners really cannot be held accountable until the 2011 season.

    I find your comments sophomoric, as neither NASL nor USL have provided the public with any strong business plan for the public to approve or disapprove. You have no basis on which to contribute anything meaningful to the discussion. Neither do I, but at least I will wait and see if anything meaningful will come out of either shop.

    My advice is to wait and see on all accounts.

  40. jmb321 permalink
    October 22, 2010

    A business plan presented in a professional manner is an opiate to the uninitiated. The devil is in the details and the persons responsible for implementing the plan must have sufficient wherewithal to fulfill the plan.

    The only saving grace for lower division soccer has been ( and probably will be for the foreseeable future) the quality, determination and passion of a few franchise owners and managers in limited locales. They have been able to surmount the obstacles or lack of tangible support by league management in the past and hopefully will continue to do so in the future. Unfortunately if you want growth of lower division soccer there must be a solid foundation which does not exist today.

  41. Bart permalink
    October 22, 2010

    jmb321

    I have heard pentecostal ministers that make more sense than you do on the above. We speak the King’s English on this side of the pond.

  42. Pete permalink
    October 23, 2010

    As a English Stoke supporter this all seems – well – foreign to me!

    Its sad that a club can up sticks and move to wherever the finances are best but at the end of the day it’s a business. As an outsider looking in the issue with getting football (sorry, soccer!) established in the US is the franchise model (why is everything franchised in the US?) and the desire for instant succes. In the UK and the rest of Europe clubs have been around for a hundred years or more (2013 is stokes 150th anniversary – please god) and have slowly built up over the years. Unfortunately the premier league is killing that history and destroying grass roots in the UK :(

    From what I have read about Phil Rawlins he feels his home is now Austin so I would be very surprised if he moved the club unless he REALLY had to do it or lose it.

    Good luck

    Pete

  43. fotbalist permalink
    October 23, 2010

    @Pete – loved your post. For many years I’ve been dropping in comments against the franchise model which North American sports insist on using, but often it seems like nobody wants the real community based option, because it doesn’t seem to generate enough money quickly enough. Sad, really!

  44. Bart permalink
    October 23, 2010

    Franchising is used in the US due to certain US commerce laws and structuring, as well as its unique anti-monopoly regulations. Certainly in other parts of the world, it is not needed. Let the government screw things up as usual.

    The point of making money in soccer is a real one. The fact that soccer is not the number one or number two watched sport in this country is a problem for team owners. As jmb321 aptly pointed out, having a D2 league tour the country for the benefit of 3,000 fans at a game makes absolutely no sense, as the numbers cannot generate the revenues to make the team financially sound.

    Ergo Austin, a team that admits it needs investors to continue, meaning it needs to conform to the requirements of those investors. If Rawlins is looking for European investors, Orlando would be a fruitful market from the overseas investment perspective.

  45. October 23, 2010

    Bart, I know you understand that Orlando is not a great sports market. So I’m trying to understand your point about it being a fruitful market from an overseas perspective.

  46. jmb321 permalink
    October 23, 2010

    Bart, the precision of my prose is purposeful. Perhaps I have to couch my opinion due to external limitations on my free speech. Try reading between the lines because I refuse to write on a Kardasian appropriate level.

    You are quite agile at personal attacks without addressing the issues at hand. Ever consider running for political office?

  47. Bart permalink
    October 23, 2010

    The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Orlando is an international tourist attraction, it is well kept, lot’s of fireworks and puts on a really good show. If you remove yourself as a US citizen for a moment, and enter into Orlando in the eyes of a foreign tourist, you enter a wonderful fantasy land.

    The Swedes, French, Germans and Brits all love going to Orlando, and if you get any data from the Chamber of Commerce there, you will quickly find that these tourists are sometimes staying for extended periods of time and recently, over the last 4 years, have become permanent residents. It is easy to extrapolate why a European investor in soccer might find Orlando an attractive place to be a part-owner of a soccer team.

    In the US, you state that Orlando is not a great sports market, but the question is why. Well, the predominant reason is not the fact that most of the residents are not local, it is more about the town itself. It is a mecca for entertainment. Therefore, to succeed in Orlando, you need be as glitzy and showy as the competition that is there. You need to stand out, and know how to market to that temporary population known as the tourist.

    Not even the Magic did that very well, in spite of the DeVos (Amway) monies.

  48. Tom permalink
    October 23, 2010

    Bart – agree with you on Orlando, although sports has always been about having a solid fan base and not how big the fireworks display is after the match. If the Magic have a hard time (as you point out), what would make anyone to think that a regional league D3 soccer team would be some form attractive investment?

  49. Bart permalink
    October 23, 2010

    And herein is the perception problem the public relations/press folks have put forth. THIS IS D3, SO WHY IS IT AN ATTRACTIVE INVESTMENT? Even BQ has presented the fact that D3 has different standards than D2, but from what I have read, USL has stated that they are elevating the standards to make this USL Pro the highest level soccer behind MLS in this country. That means to me, at least, that while it is acceptable to use a high school stadium under D3 standards, that does not mean that this will be acceptable under the USL PRO standards, something that no one has seen yet.

    In my opinion, the strategy is smart, accept the lower standards from USSF, but require higher standards from the teams itself. USL essentially becomes self governing again.

    I truly believe that USL has not done a good job as of today of explaining how it will use its D3 sanctioning, but the arrows point to a strategy of higher standards than the minimum required by USSF.

    Rawlins of Austin, by all accounts I have read, is a smart guy. Why would he take his rising team from Austin to Orlando and go to USL PRO if the business model does not make sense for him and his partners? You don’t just bring in European partners unless the plan makes solid financial sense.

    And Tom, I agree that the fireworks AFTER the game is not important, it is the fireworks during the game that is critical.

  50. treefire permalink
    October 24, 2010

    Perhaps Rawlins could self-relegate the Aztex back to PDL, at least temporarily, keep the organization running to see how D2 pans out, but move a large part of his staff and pro players to Orlando to take advantage of some foreign investment partner in D3? I’m interested to see what happens… a little worried as I was really expecting Austin to join NASL sooner or later, and didn’t at all see something like this coming.

    I have to admit that I think Bart has a good point that we have to give the USL owners, and their apparent new ideas, a little time before we can say that the clubs they’re bringing in are doomed. We know very little about their new plans, but it really seems like being able to move groups of teams up from PDL to regionalized divisions is a fine way to move forward with the “base of the pyramid”, so to speak. I hope it works out for them.

  51. treefire permalink
    October 24, 2010

    By the way, does anyone know if there has been anything written about the nature of the structure of professional soccer in the U.S. that uses an alternative metaphor to the “pyramid”? The way things have gone here the last few decades, with development seemingly focused from the top down, that is, focused on MLS while the lower divisions are ignored, it doesn’t seem to me that pyramid is the right term. Now, we have what looks like a more interesting lower level with the PDL and the emergence of regional D3, and MLS looks more solid than ever, and will hopefully be progressing with reserve squads and youth academies… but D2 looks pretty chaotic. You can’t really have a pyramid without a middle…

    I think a lot of us look at Europe, where such pyramids grew fairly naturally… amateur teams and leagues, growing, moving forward, with fan bases that are generations old… with the teams in larger markets naturally generating more interest and revenue to trend them toward the top of the pyramid. We don’t have the luxury of that natural growth here, where the establishment of sport, and our views on sports fandom, mean that pro teams have to be formed pretty much from nothing and inserted into a league.

    I just have this real feeling that our biases about what a professional soccer system should look like are making us think about this the wrong way.

  52. Fan permalink
    October 24, 2010

    It’s OK, Brian. You can just put in there that Kartik told you all of this. No need for “sources” and “IMS has learned” stuff.

  53. yankiboy permalink
    October 24, 2010

    Bart: I enjoy reading your posts, especially your thoughts about this whole debacle.

    But… I got a favor to ask: When you are making your points and tossing out your zingers–Please do not insult anyone’s religion. It’s just not necessary. The “pentacostal minister…” bit was WAY over the top. Insert, “rabbi”, “iman”, “priest”, “shaman”, “monk”–it’s all the same, Bro. I just think that there are some lines that we shouldn’t cross. Religion is one of them. You points are articulated in a very informative and entertaining way, already without having to go there.

    Not a putdown. Just something to think about.

    Maximum respect, Playah.

  54. October 24, 2010

    Fan,

    I’m offended if you don’t understand how hard I work at this stuff. After working my day job for 8-hours and spending another 1/2 on the phone for an interview for upcoming article on a college soccer player, I received a tip from a source and started making phone calls. I was on the phone from 2 until 9 Thursday working my sources. I had already heard some things were up and just started hitting my contacts. That’s how it works. It takes time and trust to build those sources. Sometimes they pan out and sometimes they don’t. I wish it was as easy as you say. I’d have a lot more free time.

  55. Bart permalink
    October 24, 2010

    yankiboy

    As an individual who attends a Pentecostal church, I think I am best suited to use my own personal experiences as to how I identify with the style of language used by a poster.

    If you care to attend, I will send you an invite, and you will then fully understand what I mean.

    I just do not have personal experience to know how a “rabbi”, “iman”, “priest”, “shaman” or “monk” speaks.

  56. Bart permalink
    October 24, 2010

    Brian,

    Most of the regular readers understand exactly how hard you work to get a story straight, confirmed and then written. That is why you are the most respected minor league soccer writer/blogger in the United States and Canada.

    Your stories are normally right on target, and for those stories that are a little off, it is generally because a trusted source of yours did not give you the full scoop, not because you merely speculated as to the final point.

    Keep up the good work, and as always, this is your website.

  57. October 24, 2010

    Thanks Bart, I appreciate the support and your understanding of how these things work.

  58. fotbalist permalink
    October 25, 2010

    @ treefire. I really like your post. I’ve been feeling for years that the term ‘pyramid’ is completely inappropriate for our system. A pyramid implies that there’s is one functioning body with different levels that are interdependent, but not overlapping. That’s simply not the case in the USA and Canada. Further yet, with the current outcome of D2. The MLS continue to remain the sole truly functioning league in the first tier. NASL will likely be sanctioned as D2. The USL PRO is considered by many the new D3 simply because they announced that they will not be seeking sanctioning as D2, but in fact they might end up being a second tier division.

    The Canadian Soccer League (canadiansoccerleague.ca) is a very good semi-pro league based in Eastern Canada. They consider themselves D3 (under MLS and NASL) even though the Canadian Soccer Association has not sanctioned anything as D1 or D2 on their own.

    Below that there is only amateur teams; numerous very good clubs who play in PDL, NPSL, PCSL, and a handful of really good clubs in the huge USASA system.

    So that makes it essentially 4 tiers in the USA and Canada, but they are not at all connected, and the only movement between leagues that takes place is based entirely on business venture and personal interest. Is that the best system, that we can come up with? Maybe! Perhaps, that’s all we can ask for at this time!

  59. yankiboy permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Bart: believe me, I have spent a lot of time in the enviroment in my younger years. I understand what you were trying to communicate. I just found the analogy (maybe it was a metaphor–I don’t know–I’m not that bright) to be a potential sensitive one.

    That was my only point.

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