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USL PRO Announces Third Team in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico United

2010 December 9
by Brian Quarstad

The United Soccer Leagues announced late yesterday afternoon the third Puerto Rican team to join USL PRO, Puerto Rico United Sporting Club. This is the 15th team announced for USL PRO that will play in the 2011 season. USL has stated that an announcement for one more team (16th) is yet to come.

The announcement was anticipated as the team had showed up on the USL PRO website one morning in November but was quickly taken down after IMS questioned the USL about the unannounced team. Others involved with the USL had also talked about a 3rd Puerto Rican club that would join USL PRO.

Puerto Rico United will now join Sevilla FC Puerto Rico and Club Atlético River Plate Puerto Rico as the third Puerto Rican team, and Barracuda FC of Antigua and Barbuda for the 4th Caribbean team. The four teams will play in an “international conference” along with Tuesday’s announced team, Los Angeles Blues, according to that team’s General Manager David Adams.

According to the USL press release, the team is led by owner Raul Blanco who founded the team in 2007.

“PR United started as an amateur team in 2007 and now we are in USL PRO. We are growing!” Blanco said. “This is a big step for the team and we accept the challenge. Our participation in the 2011 USL PRO season will help raise the levels of professional soccer in Puerto Rico.”

Puerto Rico United is based in Aguada, Puerto Rico, and plays its home games at 4,000-seat Aguada Stadium. Aguada has a population of 40,000 and is located in the western coastal region and served by nearby Rafael Hernandez International Airport.

“We’re excited to add Puerto Rico United to the roster of Caribbean clubs that will participate in USL PRO starting in 2011,” said USL Senior Director of International Development Francisco Marcos, who has overseen USL’s expansion into the Caribbean.  “We are well on our way to achieving our vision for the Caribbean in USL, where we ultimately hope to have as many as eight franchises in what would become a Caribbean conference.”

While the USL PRO schedule was tentatively set at the USL AGM in November, it’s believed the final schedule will be announced in late December.

37 Responses
  1. ERic permalink
    December 9, 2010

    So what I’m wondering is who is the 16th USL PRO team for this season.

  2. December 9, 2010

    USL Pro’s rabid expansion seems a little haphazard. No wonder the USSF instituted D-II standards. Does anyone think this sustainable?

  3. December 9, 2010

    I really don’t get how the LA Blues can sustain the costs of being the only club ont he West Coast and having to compete with Galaxy and Chivas USA.
    If they make it for more than year it means that they have the best management in the US!

  4. southsidered permalink
    December 9, 2010

    Meet USL’s International Conference, everybody!

    — a team in Antigua (total population of the entire country: 86,754)
    — three teams in the San Juan metro area (with a total population roughly equivalent to the St. Louis metro area)
    — and a team thousands of miles away from the others, in a metro area with two MLS teams and several PDL teams

    Sounds like a recipe for roaring success!

  5. yankiboy permalink
    December 9, 2010

    @southsidered: I definitely understand your cause for concern, I share some of your fears. Just want to clarify something. Aguada is not in the San Juan metro area. As the article states, it is in the West. It is about 80 miles from the western parts of the Metro area.

  6. Soccer Boy permalink
    December 9, 2010

    Looks a little saturated to me–and high travel costs.

  7. Miami Ultra permalink
    December 9, 2010

    Wow, USL is really living up to their vision of a “regional” league. Not even counting LA, the Antigua team throws a plane flight into travel plans for the Caribbean teams in the “International Conference”. And then they have to go to LA? And LA has to fly like 2,000 miles for EVERY road trip? Insanity.

  8. Dave permalink
    December 9, 2010

    Marcos really is a twit. Can we just explode the USL and NASL and have a do over? Minor league soccer has become a joke in the United States.

  9. JStats permalink
    December 9, 2010

    Supposedly different people in charge….yet the same old USL style of management. As long as the expansion fee check clears who cares about the rest.

  10. ERic permalink
    December 9, 2010

    @Dave: So who do you think is going to try this do-over you’re suggesting?

  11. December 9, 2010

    “Marcos really is a twit.”

    You do know he doesn’t really make a lot of decisions anymore, right?

    No, you don’t, you’re just going off the playbook from about 2001.

    You can say this is dumb – and it is – but you can’t blame Marcos. It’s like blaming Nixon.

    Also, I’d love to have Dave tell me when minor league soccer wasn’t a joke in this country. It’s just been varying degrees of funny.

  12. drebin permalink
    December 9, 2010

    Had the USSF worked out a set of standards for D3 in addition to the required setup for D2 you would not see this rapid expansion that instead of raising a lot of optimism amongst its supporters it’s raising a lot of doubts.

    This smells like the same USL from 2 years ago…

  13. Bart permalink
    December 9, 2010

    With the exception of California, I think the beginning steps that USL is doing does make sense, you just have to take a step back and look at the pieces:

    1.A Caribbean league is obviously being formed, and I would suspect it will be autonomous from the mainland in the near future.

  14. December 9, 2010

    I wouldn’t be surprised if USL starts to promote teams soon from its Premier Development League, such as, from the Mid-South Southern Conference with decent reputations, Laredo-El Paso-Houston-West Texas United. USL PRO may end up being a label only, disguising amateur teams as Pro or meshing together amateur and Pro together.

    The quality of play may be fine to watch, though. The distinction of the league may always be in question. I don’t know that fans will ever really care. But, moving these teams up could start to fill in holes in regions.

  15. Bart permalink
    December 9, 2010

    I don’t think a lot of PDL teams, amateur teams that they are, would be willing to change their structure to become a professional. It is a whole different cost structure.

    I think USL has to find new team owners that want to invest in the game.

  16. Giggsy permalink
    December 9, 2010

    something tells me the Islanders are not quaking in their boots.

    i will be surprised if half of these teams still exist come 2012. the USL should stick to PDL. the suck balls at anything else.

  17. December 9, 2010

    @BART,
    What is the price structure. What makes u believe that USL wouldn’t want things to appear solid throughout the country in order to give the impression they are a national league (as well as international). Why wouldn’t USL want to negotiate with each owner individually, depending on how bad they really want that team to join?

  18. December 9, 2010

    Totally agree Bart. Americanizingsoccer, if you read my four part series (Link on sidebar) you will read about the Des Moines Menace and understand why PDL teams in general don’t want to move up. For PDL teams its all about sponsorships and their costs are very low. Take it up a step to USL PRO is taking it up more the one step but numerous steps with more front office personal, paid players, higher traveling costs etc… PDL isn’t cheap, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than USL PRO where you have a higher chance of losing money.

  19. fotbalist permalink
    December 10, 2010

    I’m with “drebin” on this one. This is yet another example on how the USSF is behind the proverbial 8-ball. They should’ve clearly outlined standards for D3 (and perhaps beyond) at the same time. As the situation has developed, we have one group – the NASL – who are working hard to adhere to the rules of USSF, which ultimately helps both clubs and players in the long run. Secondly, we have another group – the USL – who have chosen to just live according to their own system, not a cooperative one.

    USL Pro has 15 teams, and 4 of them are clubs outside of our national federation. I guess with the announcement of a 16th team, they will satisfy the requirement of 75% US based clubs. Unless we get a surprise and hear of a team in Canada….or Cuba?!….lol

    As time elapses and we get closer to the start of the 2011 season, I’m starting to feel that the D2 standards that the USSF had set out are going to truly make D2 soccer viable. It’ll take a little time (MLS took a few years to get off the ground also) but it’ll happen. All of us (I’m one) who complained about those USSF standards will be thankful the Federation took that stand.

  20. drebin permalink
    December 10, 2010

    Yeah it does seem unfair that USL gets to maintain its shady business model uninterrupted from any fed regulation when the main motives of those standards were to weed out those types of practices.

    And the people that tried to move away from that model, NASL, ends up being forced to commit to those standards which could have nearly folded their league and deprive many fans of any D2 soccer for 2011.

  21. Strikers Return permalink
    December 10, 2010

    @KT – Umm, Kenn, lately you’re very fond of clobbering people over the head with “Marcos isn’t involved anymore, stop blaiming him” type speeches. Meanwhile, he’s quoted in BQ’s article, he’s obviously still invovled in the league, and what’s more, he seems to be “in charge” of the most shaky looking part of what USL is now doing – the Caribbean stuff. You yourself have said elsewhere that all these Caribbean teams being brought in looked shaky. Aer any of us surprised it’s Marcos heading up the charge to bring in the likes of these characters?

    @drebin & fotbalist – You guys are spot on with what a lot of us have been saying for awhile now. USL’s new “strategy” was to drop down (while never admitting they did so) and hope and pray (and when possible actively participate however they can) for the failure of NASL. They went to the meeting where the USSF laid out the parameters for the D2 sanctioning, and fled from it as fast as they could. Meanwhile, they’re selling a lot of talk about a regional league, and look at their line up. If you eliminated LA, you could have something of a regional model I suppose. But then, the only way to truly keep the travel costs down would be to play your 3 divisional rivals like 4 or 5 times each, and no one else until maybe playoffs. How long are fans going to be interested in that model? What would those Caribbean teams need USL for just to do that? They could have stayed in domestic leagues!

    The whole operation just seems for all the world to be a new window dressing on the same old shop of horrors.

  22. Strikers Return permalink
    December 10, 2010

    BTW, I think BQ mentioned before that the USSF is indeed going to be coming up with standards for the D3 level as well. I’m guessing they won’t be nearly as tough as the D2 ones, but still strict enough that USL will need to pay attention closely.

  23. December 10, 2010

    Thats correct.

  24. jw7 permalink
    December 10, 2010

    As the USL expands to its build out size there will be so many unimportant teams spread out around NA in small little obscure markets the league will not be followed by anyone on a national level. Who is gong to try to keep track of three D3 teams in Puerto Rico? Who cares who wins the D3 Caribbean league? The players that fill this league are going to be the ones that did not make a MLS team, their reserve team, or a team in the D2 national league NASL.

    If you can’t make one of the 30+ teams in D1, or D2 in the future, are you really a “pro” soccer player? It makes me guess how much a USL regional player will make to play in the league?

    NASL will have a place in the development of our professional soccer structure of america, USL will continue to be the small semi pro league no one is aware of, a place they’re comfortable with.

  25. December 10, 2010

    Personally, I think people here are getting a little carried away with the USL hate. Just as a personal opinion only, it seems as if the USL may have wanted to wait on the West Coast market for another year. However, I do understand why they wanted to establish a market to sort of stick their flag in the ground as a sign of confidence for other teams that were thinking about joining a West Coast USL PRO league.

    I do agree that USSF should have had the D3 and WPS standards up and running by now and I think they thought they would have them in place by now. I have a feeling between the NASL bid and the WC Bid they ran out of man power hours. I would expect new standards sometime early in 2011.

    While I’m certainly not in agreement with USL on everything, I think the concept of USL PRO is good and I wish them success. A strong D3 league will make for a stronger D2 league and a stronger D1 league. Everyone benefits.

  26. Strikers Return permalink
    December 10, 2010

    @BQ – Agree 1000% that USL should have waited for LA. If their words of this league being “regional” were anything more then simple lip service, bringing a single team into the league over 2,000 miles from any of the others is just moronic.

    I also agree 1000% about the sticking their flag in the ground perspective. However, based on what we’ve seen over the last few months, I would tend to belive it had just as much to do with beating NASL into the area then it did with trying to encourage other PDL teams to move up in that area in the future. Too many of the things they are doing seem to be more about trying to compete with NASL (who they apparently continue to refuse to recognize are one level higher then them) instead of just doing what they should be doing – focusing on making a stable and proper D3 league.

    I think we agree on most of the important points. I just think that you and some others are still giving the USL the benefit of the doubt, while I and some others see them a bit differently. I believe all soccer fans should be FOR the stablization and growth of all three of the top levels of the pyramid in North America (and Caribbean on a limited basis). NASL has reached out to the MLS to see what they can do to work together to their mutual benefit. USL needs to get into that discussion as well. They need to swallow their bitterness, and come into the fold for the good of the development of the game in this country.

    Now I know cynics like Kenn will say, you’re dreaming fanboy, it’s about money. But who in their right mind is getting into pro soccer at any level in this country right now and thinking, yep, I’m about to get rich! You’d have to be a complete dumbass. I think given time, pro soccer can become profitable here, but you have to be willing to ride out multiple years of being in the red before it can possibly tunr around. Places like Seattle are in aberration, but I think also a good sign of the growth and moving forward potential the game has here in the right places with the right operations in place. I’m guessing you’ll see more of the same next year in Portland and Vancouver.

  27. December 10, 2010

    USL and NASL engaged MLS in talks about a future partnership last summer. I think MLS was waiting for everything to sort itself out with minor league soccer before choosing or seeing what sort of proposals these organizations had.

  28. yankiboy permalink
    December 10, 2010

    “NASL will have a place in the development of our professional soccer structure of america, USL will continue to be the small semi pro league no one is aware of, a place they’re comfortable with.”
    -jw7:

    Bro, please back away from the NASL koolaid. It aint really that much better than the USL punch.

    Seriously. You make it sound like NASL is somehow a lot further along than the USL.

    It’s like clementines and manadrines. They’re both orange and pretty much taste the same and are viewed as such by the average potential consumer or distributor…

    But hey, that’s just my take…

  29. jmb321 permalink
    December 10, 2010

    It is doubtful that USSF is going to define and upgrade Division 3 standards any time soon until the dust has settled with NASL and the Division 2 standards. Suspect USL is just fine with ambiguous third party standards. And keep in mind there is now no immediate FIFA appeasement required to clean up lower division soccer. In this case, if it IS broke DON’T fix it.

  30. December 10, 2010

    BQ,

    In the wake of FIFA’s WC decision, don’t you think USSF will take their foot off the gas rather than apply more man-hours into drawing up D-III/WPS standards? As much as I want to see these standards emerge, I can’t help but think there’s going to be a period of downtime while USSF lick their wounds over the failed WC bid. (Although I don’t think the US committee could’ve done anything different to change the outcome.)

  31. December 10, 2010

    Again, I was told this past late summer by US Soccer that they were indeed working on new standards for DIII and WPS. I have absolutely no reason to doubt they will follow through on this.

  32. jmb321 permalink
    December 11, 2010

    check again and try to get a definitive date. Ambiguity serves no one.

  33. yankiboy permalink
    December 11, 2010

    “Ambiguity serves no one.”
    -jmb321

    Bro: Empires, corporations, regulations and relationships thrive on ambiguity.

    Girl- “So are we, like a serious item? Are we ‘dating’?”

    Guy (who doesn’t want to commit) “Ergh, Yeah–I really enjoy hangin’ out with you. You’re a lot of fun!”

    BQ: While you are following up on the jmb321’s directive, please try and get us the exact date that the NASL will have the “provisional” status removed from it’s sanctioning and please check and find out when the exacr date that the NASL & USLPRO schedules will be released.

    After completing those tasks, we will give you some more things to do. We can’t allow you to become too complacent or rest on your laurels, Playah…

  34. yankiboy permalink
    December 11, 2010

    @KT: I’m not having a shot at you but I gotta respond-

    “You can say this is dumb – and it is – but you can’t blame Marcos. It’s like blaming Nixon.”

    The Nixon analogy couldn’t be any further off because (may he rest in peace) he isn’t playing any sort of active role in anything taking place at this particular moment (although the residuals of some of his decisions/actions may have in some way played a role in a current situation).

    The Caribbean division is Marcos’ BABY.

    It’s Marcos with the help of FPF President Sr. Joe Serralta and PRSL President/Owner Sr. Mike Roca.

    It’s the pet project and scrap that Big Papa, Eco and Holt have tossed him, the President Emeritus.

    You can make bank on that one (man, that’s like the second time this week that I have used that particular cliche–I need to find a new one).

    Seriously. Marcos is THE driving USL force behind the USLPRO Interational division.

  35. Taly permalink
    December 11, 2010

    Too bad USL Pro did not have LA Blues wait 1-2 seasons until the west coast had more teams. LA Blues could have played 1-2 seasons in the 4th division.

  36. Strikers Return permalink
    December 13, 2010

    Taly makes a very good point here. If USL was really about making a fundamental change to their model and becoming a true regional league, why not let LA go ahead and start the 2011 season – but in the PDL. I bet if you asked the ownership of all the East Coast teams, they’d have agreed in a second.

    But see now, that would be a sign of failure by Holt and Papdakis to admit it and let them drop down. They couldn’t convince any of the other West Coast PDL teams to jump up to USL Pro for 2011. But still, your fundamental strategy for the league should be the prevailing concept that drives your league, and expansion, forward. LA should play in PDL for 2011 and try to get them some company to join D3 in 2012. That way they can still launch and start to build their fanbase while not incurring very different travel expenses for both themselves and all the other teams, which no one was supposed to be signing up for in this league. My guess is, this impatience, this not sticking to their supposed new model, is going to cost them.

  37. December 17, 2010

    NASL and USL are destined to come together, certainly within 5 years. The owners and league just have to bleed some more cash, that’s all. Money will overcome pride, eventually.

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