USL PRO Club Puerto Rico United Looking to Merge with Mayaguez FC
With contributions from Brian Quarstad
Another financial crisis seems to be facing a USL PRO franchise based in Puerto Rico: This time it’s Puerto Rico United.
Although a deal has yet to be finalized and officially announced, Eduardo Cantore reported on Wednesday that USL PRO team Puerto Rico United may combine forces with Puerto Rico Soccer League (PRSL) club Mayaguez FC.
The two teams are both located in western Puerto Rico. United is based in the town of Aguada while the city of Mayaguez is located approximately fifteen miles away.
Since Cantore filed his story, other reports of PR United’s problems have been published.
Puerto Rican soccer journalist Esteban Pagan confirmed to IMS Thursday evening via Twitter that there were issues within the club that stemmed from financial troubles and that the international players on the team had not been paid. He also reported that the Antonio Jardon, vice president of the organization, had left the club several weeks ago.
This morning Pagan has a feature story that quotes a number of the international players who posted their frustrations on Facebook. One of those players agreed to talk to him under conditions of anonymity.
“We are people who have left our country to seek a better future. But we got here and have been dealing with this (situation). It has been very difficult,” said the player, who revealed that he has not been paid any wages since the season started the first week of April.
Pagan writes: According to the player, the management had promised the players apartments and cars to share during their stay. However, 17 players were housed in some rooms located under the athletic stands in Aguada with no car and no way to communicate.
According to Cantore, executives of both Puerto Rico United and Mayaguez FC have negotiated and are attempting to unite the two sides. The goal is to field a stronger, more financially stable and unified squad to represent western Puerto Rico in USL PRO. By doing so, they hope to give the region a better chance for exposure, not only in the United States but also internationally.
A United Soccer Leagues spokesperson said they were surprised by the news, according to Tom Spears and Dan Grady of the Star News Online, a publication that covers the Wilmington Hammerheads of USL PRO. Their report stated that a call to Jason Arnold at the USL office seemed to surprise him. “That’s news to me,” the USL PRO operations manager said, although he noted that the league’s initial experience with its new Puerto Rican clubs is that rumors can “get started out of nowhere, so I don’t know where this came from.”
Yet in another report filed by Rita Ramirez on Thursday, Marcelo Cavanna, chairman of Mayaguez United FC, confirmed the report and stated that a meeting this weekend may determine the fate of the Puerto Rico United–Mayaguez United FC merger.
United Soccer Leagues and PRSL announced an agreement last year that allows certain clubs within the PRSL and selected by USL, to participate in USL PRO. The PRSL clubs chosen were Puerto Rico United, River Plate-Puerto Rico (Fajardo) and Sevilla FC-Puerto Rico (Juncos). All three are members of the USL PRO International Division that currently compete in both USL PRO and the PRSL. When the teams face each other, the results are used for both leagues’ standings.
It was originally reported that Mayaguez FC was also interested in joining the USL. It remains unclear why they were not included in the USL’s Puerto Rican expansion.
There was recent speculation that Puerto Rico United was going to withdraw from USL PRO before the two clubs began negotiating a deal to cooperate.
The Mayaguez FC organizational structure will basically remain intact with Cavanna at the helm.
Cantore also reported that if the merger was to take place, PR United players would be incorporated into the Mayaguez United FC squad. Puerto Rican internationals Andres Cabrero and Hector “Pito” Ramos will join with the unified club. The former Cuban U-23 international, goalkeeper Jose Miranda, is also reported to be making the same move.
Other Puerto Rico United players were reportedly released, allowing them an opportunity to sign with other clubs. Rumors indicate that three may move to River Plate Puerto Rico while some others could sign with Sevilla FC-Puerto Rico.
Despite the problems in the front office, PR United is 1-2-2 with 5 pts. and sit in third place in the 5-team USL PRO International Division.
Oddly there are some indications that PR United could continue to participate as an independent club in the PRSL. It is expected that clarification will be forthcoming in the next few days if the deal is finalized.
It was previously reported that Sevilla FC-Puerto Rico almost withdrew from USL PRO before the season began. Less than two weeks ago, it was revealed that it might also be forced to change its name after a falling out with Sevilla of La Liga.