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Los Angeles Blues Announced as 14th USL PRO Team

2010 December 8
by Brian Quarstad

Edited 12/9/10 – 11:55 a.m.
This article was edited per the request of USL to correct inaccuracies in a quote from LA Blues GM David Adams. USL President Tim Holt said that contrary to what Adams said concerning the Puerto Rican Football Association providing per diems for players and covering some transportation costs for teams, that information is inaccurate. Holt stated, “The Puerto Rican Football Federation is NOT providing any subsidization of any type for USL PRO teams playing matches in Puerto Rico, including per diem and transportation.  All travel-related costs for all USL PRO matches are the responsibility of the involved teams.”

The United Soccer Leagues (USL) and Blues Soccer Club announced Tuesday the 14th USL PRO team which will play in 2011 season. The newest team is the Los Angeles Blues and they are owned by the Mansouri family who also own the very successful USL W-League team, the Pali Blues. The LA Blues will be run by Vice President and Head Coach, Charlie Naimo, and General Manager, David Adams.

Naimo has been the president and head coach of the Pali Blues since 2007 and has won two league championships, one regular season title. He was also the General Manager of the Los Angeles Sol in Women’s Professional Soccer when that team won the 2009 WPS Regular Season title.

As reported previously, the Blues will be playing the majority of their home games at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium.

“We are incredibly excited to bring a USL PRO team to Southern California and the greater Los Angeles area,” said Naimo. “This city has such a grassroots passion for the sport spread across its many neighborhoods and diverse population. We really believe we can tap into that fervor and passion and have a locally-focused team that becomes part of the fabric of its community with the Los Angeles Blues.”

“The organization has been actively pursuing a USL PRO team for the last three months,” general manager David Adams told IMS on Tuesday afternoon. “Our ownership have always wanted to own a professional men’s soccer team. Even with the two MLS teams around here, we thought by playing in Orange County we could still provide professional soccer to a group of people that perhaps can’t make it out to the Home Depot Center or don’t want to make that drive.”

Adams said that his team will be playing in USL PRO’s “international conference” that will include the Blues, 3 Puerto Rican teams and a team from Antigua in their 24 game regular season schedule.

“While we have the Puerto Rico teams and Antigua, we’ll also play teams that people around here are more familiar with like Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Rochester,” said Adams. “The official schedule hasn’t come out yet but the heaviest part of your schedule is against games in your conference. Then you cross over and play a number of games out of that conference.”

Adams was asked if the USL is helping his team with travel expenses for this year since there will be no other West Coast teams in 2011 and the USL PRO model is regional conferences to save travel expenses. Fullerton is 2,500 from the nearest USL PRO team. Adams said, “No.” He said the LA Blues ownership will be taking care of their own expenses.

Adams was asked if the USL is helping his team with travel expenses for this year since there will be no other West Coast teams in 2011 and the USL PRO model is regional conferences to save travel expenses. Fullerton is 2,500 from the nearest USL PRO team. Adams said, “No.” He said the LA Blues ownership will be taking care of their own expenses. However, he did confirm reports that the Puerto Rican Football Federation will provide some per diems for the players and cover some transportation costs for teams traveling to their country. Adams said all the details were yet to be worked out.

“Puerto Rico is doing a good job of helping us out because they understand the amount of travel we have to do to get over there,” said Adams.

“When USL proposed this design of USL PRO we thought it would be a great chance to establish something on the West Coast,” said Adams.  “Unfortunately there were a couple of teams (from the West Coast) who dropped out before the USL AGM meeting. It would have been nice to have those teams near us. We’re hoping that if we have a good year, we can perhaps help establish 3 or 4 teams in the next couple of years and someday soon have a complete western division conference that would be very similar to what’s on the East Coast. I know San Diego are in the mix and there has been talk about Utah moving up. We’re also hoping that a team up north would join and there could even be another team in LA if we’re lucky.”

The other 13 teams listed on the USL PRO’s web site are: Barracuda FC (Antigua), Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions, FC New York, Harrisburg City Islanders, Orlando City FC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Richmond Kickers, River Plate Puerto Rico, Rochester Rhinos, Sevilla FC Puerto Rico, and Wilmington Hammerheads. It’s believed that Puerto Rico United is the third Puerto Rican team that will soon be added to the 16 teams USL is stating it will field for the 2011 season.

37 Responses
  1. yankiboy permalink
    December 8, 2010

    I just want to be the first perzon here to say what a boneheaded move this is.

    Pali Blues are an excellenty W-league organization but this is insane.

    Barracuda FC is a joke–they already have shown that by bailing on friendlies Montreal and Charleston. I am no fan of Uncle Joey Saputo but he had ever right to be furious after he took his club down there to play a friendly when the NASL was stupid enough to even consider letting them in.

    LA to PR even to play three clubs per road trip is expensive for the third division.

    Boneheaded…

  2. yankiboy permalink
    December 8, 2010

    I also want to go on the record as saying that my typing is almost as bad as this idea.

    I don’t doubt the good intentions of all of those involved. I just think that what appears to be a glaring economic reality has been completely overlooked and that this move is just example of how the USL Management hasn’t learned a darn thing.

    Having said that, I still think that a restructured Baltimore would be a better fit in USLPRO than the NASL with the same logic in mind. Travel expenses being a huge part of the operating expenses…

    Hopefully I will be wrong but I really don’t think this will work for even one season before LA is going to complaining left and right about getting the shaft and I anticipate that everyone is going to complain about the Antiguan club–they are clearly dysfunctional.

  3. Garrett permalink
    December 8, 2010

    Of course USL won’t help you with your travel costs LA, they just want your expansion fee! Odds on them lasting the season? Brian, how deep are the pockets of the Blues’ owners?

    And as jrodius pointed out on twitter, are their supporters group going to be the Crips?

  4. paul permalink
    December 8, 2010

    This makes no sense! There will likely be four four-team conferences with those them primarily playing each other over a 20-game schedule. This works if you are only a few hours drive away from your opponents, but with the “international division” it doesn’t make sense. What teams will travel to Fullerton? The PR teams and FC Baracuda don’t have the money to do this. Charleston? Harrisburg? I thought their goal was to spend less money?!? They really should have saved this launch for next year and introduced three more teams from the west coast.

  5. Strikers Return permalink
    December 8, 2010

    I’m just waiting for Kenn T. to come around and tell us just exactly how this isn’t the same old USL garbage……

  6. JXU permalink
    December 8, 2010

    “we’ll also play teams that people around here are more familiar with like Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Rochester”

    I wonder if he is talking about the play-offs, or regular season? Because if it is the regular season, all that talk about USL-Pro keeping down travel costs seems to be at odds with adding this team.

    With the new league organization, the majority of the owners of the teams had to approve adding this team, right?

  7. mikey permalink
    December 8, 2010

    your correct JXU. the owners approve new teams according to Andrew Bell Battery president

    Im surprised LA Blues are going ahead this year. especially after the other teams out west decided to wait. On the surface it seems like it would have been wise to wait until there were more teams out west. But they must have convinced a majority of the clubs with there presentation that they can make it work.

    If it is the catalyist for more western teams coming in 2012 they will be seen as pioneers. If it all goes wrong, it will be business as usual.

    The USL Pro schedule is supposed to be out by Christmas according to reports so hopefully it will clear up some of the questions.

  8. yankiboy permalink
    December 8, 2010

    “…we’ll also play teams that people around here are more familiar with like Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Rochester”

    Ok. Rochester–due to the glory days that they used to have–maybe some soccer fans behind Orange Curtain who follow second division soccer know who they are.

    But Harrisburg City Islanders (as good as they have been at times in recent years) and Pittsbugh–no disrespect but I don’t think so.

    I’ll pass on that crazy punch. Just give me some lemonaide…

  9. Wayne permalink
    December 8, 2010

    I realize Kitsap and another club are staying in the PDL. Are there any other clubs in the American West that are considering USL Pro? I think there has to be to make this move. Any such rumors? Otherwise, I agree; it’s crazy.

  10. December 8, 2010

    I just don’t get this at all. Titan Field is a great stadium to play soccer in. I saw quite a few US Open Cup games there and the set up there makes for an intimate atmosphere. Now why are they the LA Blues instead of the Orange County Blues? Not sure. And being 2,500 miles away from the nearest competitor has to take a toll on a team physically.

    Press will be hard to come by too, being behind the Galaxy and Chivas USA. I would even rate them behind Hollywood United Football Club for press. Maybe they’ll rename the team the Los Angeles Blues of Orange County to expand their geographic appeal.

    So far they have 62 followers on Twitter. They’ve got a lot of work to do.

  11. Strikers Return permalink
    December 8, 2010

    @mikey – “the owners approve new teams according to Andrew Bell Battery president”

    I for one have a VERY hard time believing this Mikey. Is there any documentation out there for this? Not only does it mean a compelte 180 degree turnabout from this organization’s operating procedure for YEARS, but I can’t believe all of these owners on the East Coast voted in favor of adding ONE California team to the league, let alone those Caribbean ones. No chance. Hell, didn’t Clark just go crawling back to USL and Rawlins slip out in the night with his team to Orlando just to avoid THESE EXACT expenses?!?

    How can we believe these D3 clubs with D3 budgets were good with these decisions?

  12. mikey permalink
    December 8, 2010

    @Wayne, from what I have heard, there were six teams looking to make the jump this year out west. Victoria, Kitsap, San Deigo, BYU, Hollywood and LA. Victoria and Kitsap both decided not to join . then it was a domino effect with BYU not joining, Hollywood United wiating and San Deigo waiting as well.

    As to next year, if some of them move up and another team or two express interest, it would be alot more benifitual to everyone involved.

  13. Bart permalink
    December 8, 2010

    I agree folks. One would have thought that USL would have required the team to wait until a full contigent of teams on the west coast were ready, and then have the west coast conference start up in a practical way.

    Maybe USL has teams that are coming aboard on the west coast that are not announced yet. I would hope this is the case.

    We shall see……

  14. jmb321 permalink
    December 8, 2010

    This kind of nonsense is the reason new prospective USLPRO owners balk at purchasing a franchise. You commit to a regional franchise and develop that concept. Otherwise it is just lip service. If you don’t reach critical mass in a region you beg off and try again next year.

    Current franchise owners DO NOT have final say on the makeup of the league or the competition model.

    These types of decisions do a real disservice to soccer fans as budgets for roster and/or game day experience have to be needlessly directed to crazy travel expenses. Another example why management of lower division soccer is so inadequate.

  15. mikey permalink
    December 8, 2010

    @ Stikers Return.

    In case you missed it, USL has been making an effort to change and improve on alot of what were legitament TOA grievences. adding support for teams marketing, media outreach, larger staff are part of those changes

    The new Board of Govenors is probably one of the major changes the USL has made. There are a number of reports out there with the info.

    ill let BQ add the link if he wants but here is the quote from Bell in the interview I did with him on my blog,

    No Quarter: Will the decisions of that board include expansion teams.

    Andrew Bell: “Yes, it’s my understanding that the board’s responsibility will include expansion.”

    And if the Puerto Rico Federation is going to fund part of the travel for teams traveling there, I understand why many clubs would want to let them in.

  16. yankiboy permalink
    December 8, 2010

    “And if the Puerto Rico Federation is going to fund part of the travel for teams traveling there, I understand why many clubs would want to let them in.”

    -Mikey (aka one of my HEROES-don’t get frazzled BQ–you are one, too)

    I gotta break ranks with you on that one. That makes almost no sense to me. I personally don’t see that situation lasting too long. With Islanders things were rocky. Bermuda and the Hogges were reportedly fantastic in how they handled things from what I heard while the Hogges were in USL2.

    Like I said before, I don’t doubt the good attention and enthusiasm but the FPF currently in an incredible amount of turmoil–use of funds and vision being key issues of contention right now. I know many fans of Puerto Rican futbol who are seriously wondering if at least two of those Puerto Rican clubs are going to be seriously overextended financially.

    Even with all that, I would take one of those clubs over Barracuda any day of the week. They have already shown their behinds to be unreliable.

  17. rjpr permalink
    December 8, 2010

    Puerto Rico Federation funding what????

    By their own admission they barely have money to fund a part-time almost nonexistent national team, let alone fund private teams in a private league.

    Also they have elections this weekend… new President and board soon? maybe

  18. Strikers Return permalink
    December 8, 2010

    @mikey – I generally agree with your posts here and elsewhere, but I’m just having a lot of trouble swallowing this one. Why would the Battery ownership be in favor of adding these teams that are going to up their travel expenses for sure? Isn’t that the whole reason they dropped down to D3 in the first place, to escape the high travel costs? It’s just not adding up, no matter what anyone says on the record.

    @yankiboy – In reading BQ’s initial story, the first thing that caused me to scratch my head, beyond the fact that USL PRO had decided to add ONE Cali team LOL, was the comments by the Adams regarding the travel expenses. (Great job putting him on the spot with that one BQ!) It seems at first that he says the league will not be helping with the travel costs, and the team will handle that themselves. But then he goes into the explanations about the Puerto Rico Federation providing assistance. I’ve never heard anything about the PR Federation providing assistance to the Islanders’ opponents for travel expenses. Why would the Federation help brand new USL teams, but not an established and successful club like the Islanders?

    No matter how you want to spin it, it just keeps looking like more of the SOS from USL. Even when they do something that makes you go, well now that was actually a good move for them, like enticing Clark and Rawlins into bringing their teams in, it never seems to take them long to offset it with stuff like this CA team out there by itself in their “new regional” model, and these Caribbean teams which seem shaky at best for the league as well. Guess we’ll see what happens…..

  19. December 8, 2010

    Not confirmed but a couple of things. It is possible that the USL PRO Board of Governors will have control on “”expansion.” This is not expansion but creation of the league. Things could be different in the future but I’m guessing USL is in full control this year. With that said, it has been reported by numerous people attending the USL AAGM, including those involved with other leagues beside USL PRO, that it was one of the most positive AGM’s they have ever attended. Not to say there weren’t problems. That’s part of what AGM’s are about. To sort out issues. But overall things were very good.

    I have been hearing the stories of the Puerto Rican Football Association supplementing USL PRO teams visiting since Marcos met with Joe Serralta, founder of the Islanders but now only a nominal owner. He is now the President of the Puerto Rican Football Federation was not happy that the Islanders moved to the NASL. He has distanced himself from the Islanders and he was even criticized in the Puerto Rican papers for not supporting the Islanders after they won the USSF D2 Pro League Championship.

    There is clearly a political football climate going on down in PR and Serralta seems to have an ear for the USL at the current time.

    Also, I’ve been told by 3 different sources that the plan is for a team to fly in and play all three PR teams in 7-days time and will have flown to a played Antigua before that or after the 3-PR games. The same will be true of PR teams. They will fly to the mainland, most likely play three games and come back.

    Where the PR Football Association is coming up with the money to help offset costs I have no idea.

  20. mikey permalink
    December 8, 2010

    @Strikers

    I’m not saying the Battery were in favor of LA Blues joining, I would imagine a majority vote by the BOG would award the team entry into the league. Prehaps the Battery were out voted.

    @ yanki its all cool, I really dont the back story and I know your more intouch with the PR scene. But I know FIFA often awards money to smaller FA . prehaps they are thinking that USL is a higher level of competetion and teams have an easier path to the CCL. The Islanders and the PRFA certainly benfited from a good run in the CCL.

    Antigua Ill give you. not feeling good about that one at all…

  21. paul permalink
    December 8, 2010

    That works for LA going to PR (though I’m guessing they’d have to take this trip a few times) but how do the PR teams get to Calif. Will the USL have teams like Charleston and Rochester fly to California on their own dime? I doubt that would make them happy.

  22. mikey permalink
    December 8, 2010

    just to clairify I ment a higher level of competition than the PR league in my post

  23. yankiboy permalink
    December 8, 2010

    @Strikers Return: Here’s the way thatI have always understood the story-

    In the very early stages of the Islanders A-League (USL-1) existence there was reportedly an understanding that they were going to help defrey some of the visiting teams travel costs. Some league front offices complained that stipulation never was honored the way that it was presented. Islanders FO have often maintained that had more to do with a misunderstanding and that it was never the intention of the club to be forking out a lot of cash to get teams down there. “He said, he said” sort of thing. It was all brought up again when Bermuda Hogges wanted to join the USL-2.

    While a lot of those who follow soccer and sports in Puerto Rico talk about how intertwined Puerto Rico Islanders FC and the FPF are/were, it was never my understanding that the federation was going to fork out any ca$h for visting teams’ travel expenses to PR.

    The relatively recent FPF politics and history are so complicated that BQ could write a several segment report on it and still not do the issue justice.

    Finances are already called into question, the fed elections are looming and their has a very bloody round of sniping in the press between key figures involved for months now that has recently gone to a new level. A lot of dirty laudndry is allegedely being aired.

    Maybe the FPF has facilitated in brokering a deal between the PR clubs involved and LA in order to try to make their inclusion seem more appealing to the USL. The FPF had been working hard to bring more clubs into the USL.

    LA Blues isn’t aware of it but I would guess that they have just inadvertantly added a little fuel to the Puerto Rican Federation fire by stating to IMS that the Fed is going to help out financially.

    They just might eta phone call or email saying to zip it and to stop discussing the matter of travel assistance or per diems or anything of the like.

  24. Strikers Return permalink
    December 8, 2010

    Very interesting stuff everybody. At this point I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I don’t wish USL Pro any harm, I just question their motives when they talk the talk, but don’t seem to be walking the walk on the whole regional model. They still look for all the world like they’re trying to compete with NASL to me.

  25. jmb321 permalink
    December 8, 2010

    The USL Board of Governors will have a “say” on future expansion but NOT the deciding vote. This will be fully under the purview of USL management. If 2 or 3 owners dislike the direction of USL ‘s expansion it is not like they can take their ball and play elsewhere. The Franchise Agreement will forestall any freedom of movement. So barring a very expensive legal battle, USL will be the ultimate decisionmaker on new teams. More lip service and any buyer should really be wary of what they are buying into with USLPRO. It is doubtful you will see new money going into lower division soccer at this level considering the competency level of current managment.

  26. MarcV permalink
    December 8, 2010

    jmb321:
    This Franchise Agreement is disturbing fare indeed. Just what are USLPro franchisees getting into? Are they chained to D3 forever – isn’t there leeway to move up into a higher division at some point when the economics/attendance/interest warrant it in their market?

  27. jmb321 permalink
    December 8, 2010

    Without the league’s blessing, it will probably be very difficult for franchises to have any freedom of movement on many fronts. New owners with any business sense will be aware of this and make a decision based on the merits of the league and its foreseeable future only. As a result, owning a lower division franchise will remain a hobby of the deep pocket class only and not a viable business enterprise.

  28. WeatherManNX01 permalink
    December 8, 2010

    Wow, way to con some teams out of money. You put a team on the West Coast away from everyone else, and it’s the Puerto Ricans that are shelling out extra money for per diems and such. That’s freaking ridiculous. If you’re going to come play, but you’re outside of the general territorial footprint, _you_ pay the money, not them.

    I don’t want to see teams like Pittsburgh and Charleston and my City Islanders get screwed in the cash department because they have to leg it out to L.A. and back. Either USL or LA Blues should be paying that bill, not the teams.

    And hey, USL? Great job with that “regional league” thing. Love how that’s working out.

  29. Bart permalink
    December 8, 2010

    jmb321

    What planet do you reside on? Where do you get the USL franchise information? Did you apply for a franchise or are you just speculating?

    On what fact basis do you make these statements?

    Your comments make no sense.

  30. Stan Lee permalink
    December 8, 2010

    “I know San Diego are in the mix and there has been talk about Utah moving up. ”

    Hmm… we already moved up genius, we are called Real Salt Lake. 😉

    I am sure he is referring to BYU but thats never going to happen.

    I know working with such elite clubs like LA Sol might make you think you know what your doing, but you don’t. Good luck!

  31. treefire permalink
    December 9, 2010

    jmb321’s comments made sense to me… that is, if that poster has access to a great deal more information than myself (which, given my level of participation in the subject, I find likely). Given the history of business dealings for the USL, and their apparent defensive competitiveness vs. the NASL, I would have found it surprising (albeit happily refreshing), if they had really relinquished control of league structure and franchise movement to the teams. I look forward to a time when we can get to see the actual rules of the league, so someone smart like Bart can point out to us who really has a say in what’s happening and how.

    Of course we have to wait and see how it works out… but this announcement, as is shown by the comments above, seems a bit crazy. Just by adding this one team, the league has added significant travel costs to all the participating teams, and stirred up a big can of worms questioning how things are going to go from here on out. I don’t think this goes against years of USL policy – in fact, I think it’s consistent with years of USL policy (for how many years did teams just have to accept that they would be flying to face new opponents in the West or Midwest?). However, I do think it goes against what we have been led to believe is the “new” USL.

    I can just imagine their schedule… a month of home games, followed by a month of living out of their suitcases traveling down the East Coast and through the Caribbean… Hard to market, hard to manage, hard on the players.

    Regardless, best of luck to them, I hope it works out for everyone, and that they are joined by another 5-7 West Coast teams next year.

  32. Strikers Return permalink
    December 9, 2010

    BQ,

    Any chance of you getting any of the specifics of the league/owners decision making structure from the USL brass? Perhaps you could see if they’d answer specifically to what the process was of adding the Caribbean teams and the lone California team for 2011. If they would be willing to go on the record, we could see if the USL is trying to change, or if what we see on the surface is in fact the truth – just a re-packaging of the same old practices and models that haven’t worked in the past.

  33. December 9, 2010

    Edited 12/9/10 – 11:55 a.m.
    This article was edited per the request of USL to correct inaccuracies in a quote from LA Blues GM David Adams. USL President Tim Holt said that contrary to what Adams said concerning the Puerto Rican Football Association providing per diems for players and covering some transportation costs for teams, that information is inaccurate. Holt stated, “The Puerto Rican Football Federation is NOT providing any subsidization of any type for USL PRO teams playing matches in Puerto Rico, including per diem and transportation.  All travel-related costs for all USL PRO matches are the responsibility of the involved teams.”

  34. Strikers Return permalink
    December 9, 2010

    BQ,

    As always you get the right people to get on the record about the important issues. Very concerning though that Adams could throw out something that specific only to have Holt slap it down, no ifs, and, or buts about it. Makes you wonder how this supposedly new league model with the same old cast of characters is getting owners on the same page as them….

    Seems Yankiboy was pretty much on with his doubts about Adams’ claims of assistance. I think this just adds more fuel to the speculation that despite it being a good 5 months or so from the opening game, you can already see teams that look as if they could be dead or gone come this time next year…..

  35. yankiboy permalink
    December 9, 2010

    “USL President Tim Holt said that contrary to what Adams said concerning the Puerto Rican Football Association providing per diems for players and covering some transportation costs for teams, that information is inaccurate. Holt stated, “The Puerto Rican Football Federation is NOT providing any subsidization of any type for USL PRO teams playing matches in Puerto Rico, including per diem and transportation. All travel-related costs for all USL PRO matches are the responsibility of the involved teams.”
    -BQ

    “Finances are already called into question, the fed elections are looming and their has a very bloody round of sniping in the press between key figures involved for months now that has recently gone to a new level. A lot of dirty laudndry is allegedely being aired.

    LA Blues isn’t aware of it but I would guess that they have just inadvertantly added a little fuel to the Puerto Rican Federation fire by stating to IMS that the Fed is going to help out financially.

    “They just might (g)eta phone call or email saying to zip it and to stop discussing the matter of travel assistance or per diems or anything of the like.”
    -Yankiboy

    Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

    Was able to see that one coming from a mile away…

    Oh well, even a broken clock is right twice a day, huh?

  36. December 9, 2010

    Strikers Return,

    I have put in a request to talk about that and a few other things.

  37. Mike permalink
    December 10, 2010

    Calling it now: the travel expenses are too much for them, and the entire organization folds or the men’s team is sent down to PDL.

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