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USL Confirms VSI Will Operate USL PRO Team in Tampa in 2013

2011 November 16
by Brian Quarstad

The United Soccer Leagues released a statement this morning, in conjunction with a press conference in Tampa, stating that VisionPro Sports Institute (VSI) has chosen to establish an international youth soccer academy in Tampa, Florida. With that institute VSI will move forward in 2012 by operating a PDL, W-League and Super-20 team. VSI has also obtained the rights to operate a USL PRO franchise in Tampa, the headquarters of the USL. VSI intends to start the operation of that USL PRO team in 2013.

To read the the entire USL press release click ‘read more’

USL NEWS RELEASE: Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TAMPA, Fla. – USL is pleased to announce that VisionPro Sports Institute (VSI) has chosen to establish an international youth soccer academy in Tampa. As part of the new project, VSI will also operate teams in the PDL, W-League and Super-20 League starting in 2012, with a USL PRO franchise scheduled to begin play in Tampa in 2013.

VSI established its first youth soccer academy earlier this year in La Manga, Spain, and is partnering with the respected Brandon FC Flames youth club to form its newest academy. The agreement is another milestone for VSI as it continues to develop its international academy business, which provides elite development coaching for young players. VSI is supported by both current and former English Premier League players and managers, many of whom act as mentors to the VSI academy scholars. Additional academies are expected soon in Portugal and the Far East.

“This is a great day for the Tampa soccer community, most notably youth players and fans,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “Not only will an elite academy be established so top young talent can pursue their professional dreams, but Tampa will have new professional and elite men’s and women’s amateur teams to support for years to come. Backed by some of the top names in world soccer, VisionPro Sports Institute will make a difference for Tampa soccer.”

Headquartered in England, VSI uses the support and backing of soccer’s leading professional players to establish and operate elite academies for young talent. VSI’s elite, fully funded scholarship programs are run by a team of highly qualified coaches and teachers who pass on the skills players need to make the grade.

“The combination of our partnership with the Brandon FC Flames and our USL franchise teams lays the perfect platform for vertical progression, giving talented youngsters the opportunity to progress from junior soccer all the way through to the professional game,” VSI CEO Simon Crane said. “VSI is dedicated to elite performance and we are confident that our USL franchises will be strong, successful and, importantly, profitable.”

“I am delighted that our VSI soccer business now extends across the Atlantic and embraces North America through our Tampa franchises,” VSI Chairman Neil Caisley said. “It has been a major part of our plans for growing the business and we look forward to exciting times ahead and becoming part of the USL family.”

Founded in 1975, the Brandon FC Flames boast more than 3,000 players in a wide variety of soccer programs including Classic Soccer (recreational), TOPSoccer (special needs), Elite Soccer (competitive) and Adult Soccer. Brandon FC is dedicated to providing a positive and rewarding soccer experience for all players of all ages and abilities.

“Brandon FC is very excited to be partnering with two organizations with incredible reputations in VSI and USL,” Brandon FC’s Randy Belli said. “Throughout the process, we have discovered that the benefits to all parties involved will be outstanding. The vertical integration of youth soccer through the professional level is something that we have been striving to achieve. The real winners from this partnership are the players and the fans.”

USL PRO is the strongest, most sophisticated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below MLS, both on and off the field. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO featured 12 teams in 2011 and an unprecedented six teams with more than a decade of operational experience.

The top developmental men’s league in North America, the PDL featured 64 teams within four conferences across the United States and Canada in 2011. The first and longest-standing women’s league in North America, the W-League is USL’s highest level of women’s soccer in the United States and Canada and featured 27 teams in three regional conferences in 2011.

The Super-20 League is the only U20 men’s and women’s North American amateur league, and it provides the platform for top 17- to 20-year-olds in the United States and Canada to compete at the elite level. Many Super-20 teams serve as a reserve team system for W-League and PDL teams.

147 Responses
  1. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    “USL PRO is the strongest, most sophisticated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below MLS, both on and off the field. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO featured 12 teams in 2011 and an unprecedented six teams with more than a decade of operational experience.”

    Really? Is that so? (eyes rolling!)

    IM ROWDIES TILL I DIE!!!!!

  2. Silly permalink
    November 16, 2011

    WEBSITE: Prepare to Crash

  3. Silly permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Grant: I love your passion for FCTB and I hope it works out for you in the end. Good luck with your movement to support TB and sway fans away from USL. Like I said before I think the bet is on the failure of TB and NASL by the time the USL team is ready to go pro. If that happens you will have no fans to preach your movement to. You better get some new Butts in the seats or TB will not be around when the competition starts.

    Not sure of your age but it makes more sense for you to say :

    YOU ARE ROWDIES TILL THEY DIE

  4. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ Silly…my ‘movement’? And my age is in question? Please! Perhaps your post name has gone to your head…

  5. Strikers Return permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Silly got one thing right. It’s a clear pronouncement, no matter how substantive you think it is, that Holt, Big Papa, and the rest of the USL brass are openly betting on FCTB failing. Or worst case, hope this throws enough of strong breeze their way to make them unsteady while collecting expansion fees and in the end just keeping the team at PDL. It would be very easy come 2013 for the organization to say, “At this time we’ve decided to keep the team at PDL. We still desire to move the team to USL Pro, and will continuely be evaluating the opportunity to do so in the future.”

  6. Silly permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Your age is not in question. I was saying you will not die in the next 2 years and out live the Rowdies.

    And yes your movement that you stated in the other thread to never spend any money on a USLPRO team and make sure no one you know does either.

  7. drebin permalink
    November 16, 2011

    The words USL uses to describe themselves and their operations are rather amusing.

  8. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Im gonna let The USL track record do the talking. I said in another post yesterday that Im going to use this new team as a ‘barometer of truth’ for The USL front office. If they exist in 2013 as a Pro team, I wont be that surprised….but if they exist in 2015 as a Tampa based Pro team, Ill be absolutely astonished!

  9. Bart permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Well, if the USL Pro Tampa team does not exist in 2015, then I will go out on a limb and pretty confidently state that Tampa will not have a professional soccer team in 2015.

  10. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ Silly…I see what you mean about the age thing. I misunderstood. Sorry.

    As for the ‘movement’, it should be called ‘fanhood’ or ‘Loyalty.’ I dont believe that NY Mets fans patronize The NY Yankees. I dont believe LA Clippers fans buy LA Lakers gear. This new team is potentially damaging to the team I support, and based on that, new team gets none of my support….even if your prediction is correct and FCTB/NASL is gone. And as a first hand observer, I can tell you that USL Pro’s chance here arent much better than NASL’s. There’s no ‘hidden fanbase’ waiting to come out and support a new team, especially when its attached to an organization as fallible as the USL.

    But like I said….lets wait and see.

  11. rafijoepr permalink
    November 16, 2011

    “USL PRO featured 12 teams in 2011” That’s right 12 cause 3 of them folded mid season. The Islanders are an example of an NASL team surviving when pitted against a USL Pro franchise… or three.

  12. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    “Well, if the USL Pro Tampa team does not exist in 2015, then I will go out on a limb and pretty confidently state that Tampa will not have a professional soccer team in 2015.”

    Thats correct, Bart…Hence my animosity! Its such a great thing that The USL loves soccer so much they would destroy a work in progress to wax their ego’s. I ask you…If Tampa is so tenuous a market, why announce a second team? Ball’s in your court on that one!

  13. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Isnt there some statistic about The USL that more teams have come and gone than are actually playing within their structure? If so, Its probably because of bone-headed moves like putting a D3 team in a poor venue within a market that has a struggling economy and an existing D2 team. No wonder the fail rate is so high…Ive seen lemonade stands with better management.

  14. Tom permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Saying and doing are two different things. Personally, until either league plays their first 2012 official game all of this is conjecture. We all know the NASL issues and rumors are out there that at least one current (and potentially a second) USL team is looking to self-relegate. Only time will tell.

  15. yankiboy permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @rafijoepr: Well played. You beat me to the ball and scored a golazo-azo-azo.

  16. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Very true, Tom! Minor League soccer is by no means a ‘sturdy ship’….for anyone!

  17. yankiboy permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Reading Grant & Bart go at it is way better than watching the new National Geographic Channel’s “Knights of Mayhem” show. WAY better. (note to self: just because a network pays for a lot of spots on sportstalk radio and uses a familiar aggro pop song in the commercials does NOT a good show make).

    I am really enjoying Grant joinging forces with Strikers Return and becoming a flagbearer for the NASL & Traffic (for whom I have MUCH love).

    Bart is always the Black Knight.

    You guys jousting is way more money than what I saw on the show last night (even though the dudes knocking each other off of horses was clearly the best part of that show).

    Anyways, Grant, SR & Bart The Nefarious:

    Prepare your lances! JOUST!!!

  18. Danwolf permalink
    November 16, 2011

    When you say Black Knight and Bart, I think the Black Knight from Monty Python Search for the Holy Grail.

  19. November 16, 2011

    “…Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO featured 12 teams in 2011 and an unprecedented six teams with more than a decade of operational experience.”

    Yet they do not mention the 3 failed Puerto Rico teams lol. Nice 3 months of stability they had. And then there are the floundering LA and FCNY teams, those clubs’ days are probably numbered as D3 operations.

    When USL makes asinine statements like this it’s hard to take them serious.

  20. Danwolf permalink
    November 16, 2011

    USL-Pro TAMPA franchise will folds before it 2013 we all be laughing about how USL-pro is a complete and utter failure.

  21. yankiboy permalink
    November 16, 2011

    ^Dannie: I hope that USLPRO doesn’t fail. I want it to be a success just like I want NASL to be a success.

    I guess that market forces will decide which Tamper pro soccer franchise survives. Heck they both might have given up the ghost by 2014.

  22. November 16, 2011

    “USL-pro is a complete and utter failure.”

    This conversation/discussion is turning away from the normally thoughtful and sometimes humorous standard we usually have here at IMS because of all the great readers and commentors. Lets keep this on track and not have this turn into a big bash USL fest which I personally don’t agree with whatsoever.

    While I would agree that USL First Division has had some problems that have been systematic of minor league soccer and may be some of the doing of USL themselves, I truly believe they are working hard to right those past mistakes with their new ownership. On top of that, we all have USL to thank for having MLS and even NASL. Even Aaron Davidson said that last year. So lets get things back on track here and state facts if you want. But this will not turn into a big bash USL blog simply because we principally have NASL readers.

    I’m not digging it folks. Lets be mindful before we hit that return key. Thanks.

  23. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ F19…But yet they will roll out the propoganda, wont they? The organization that I feel bad for is VSI! Their management appears sound, and their aim true, but its a shame they gave their money to the ‘snake oil salesmen’ over at The USL offices. I hope VSI doesnt get burned because its noble what they are trying to do with Brandon Flames FC. Ask alot of questions, VSI…ALOT of questions…Like: “How is this new ‘FC Lemonade Stand’ gonna make it in Tampa, when The USL cant make it work in LA and NY?

    @ Danwolf…I like your comparison. You are timely with the ‘entertainment references’, However, I would prefer to be a Knight who says ‘nee!’

    @ Yankiboy….the fact that you put me in a group that rivals any Nat Geo production is a compliment well taken. Ill give it to Bart, when its The NASL under the microscope, he ‘unseats’ me from my horse occassionally. Unfortunately for him, his Horse and Shield have a USL logo on them, meaning they are easily broken. While Strikers Return has suspect team affiliations, his heart and mind are in the right spot, and I will team with him anyday 🙂

  24. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ Brian…sorry, your post went up while I was typing mine and I didnt see it until after I hit the return button. USL bashing finished on my end.

  25. Danwolf permalink
    November 16, 2011

    I’m apologize i may have gone to far. I just feel that USL-Pro is not sticking to the plan it set out to do originally. I thought USL-Pro was going to do regional leagues and they completely drop it when they see a chance they can undercut NASL. To me it seems that NASL has moved on and is trying to strenghten D2 while USL-Pro is looking for any way it can destroy D2. If USL-Pro can’t stop this Pettiness then i not sure i want them to be sanctioned.

    The Big thing is Why isn’t USSF doing anything about it. I mean they can at least threaten to take away the USL-Pro sanctioning until it grows up.

  26. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ Danwolf…I agree with your last post 100%!

  27. David permalink
    November 16, 2011

    “USL PRO is the strongest, most sophisticated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below MLS, both on and off the field. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO featured 12 teams in 2011 and an unprecedented six teams with more than a decade of operational experience”

    o_O

    Oh boy…

  28. Bart permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ Danwolf

    How is setting up a USL Pro team, not to mention PDL, W-League and Super Y a step away from the concept of regionalizing USL Pro? USL Pro already has Orlando as a franchise, and this fits perfectly within the regionalization goal that USL has espoused. Beyond that, Tampa is getting an excellent slew of the other amateur leagues that USL hosts.

    When you cut through all the emotion, VSI is creating a fully integrated group of USL leagues that benefits all the Tampa players, pro and amateur, and it’s fan base as well.

    If it feels so good, how can it be wrong 🙂

  29. Danwolf permalink
    November 16, 2011

    The USL-Pro team is all that bugs me. The other things I’m fine with. But FC Tampa Bay Rowdies already there and they have their own section in the Tampa Tribune sports section, and USL-Pro is trying to act like their is no current team their. Also your buddies over at USL are either Vindictive or just really stupid. I’m going for both. The Fact that they refuse to admit that they are 3rd Division shows it. I just want a new 3rd Division who does not have a ego problem when it comes to being 3rd. I was hoping that USL would focus on bettering their league rather then continue to try to pull the legs out from under their seat.

    Also USL ran away from D2 when the new standards came out. NASL is doing everything they can to create a viable D2 League.

  30. Danwolf permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @Bart

    It may feel so good get with as many girls as possible but just because it feels good doesn’t mean it is right when you go home to your wife that you are lying to.

  31. Danwolf permalink
    November 16, 2011

    No way does a serious soccer fan jump from a D2 team that is continuing a history and tradition to a over hyped D3 team.

  32. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ Danwolf….you have made some great posts today! I agree with you a few posts back when you said ‘I just want a new 3rd Division who does not have a ego problem when it comes to being 3rd!’

    I couldnt agree more!

  33. Stephen permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Yaaaaaawwwwwnnnnnn

    Wake me up when it’s 2013 and we’ll see what this looks like then. Till then, I’m buying season tickets to the NASL team and supporting local soccer any way I can (I’m even an assistant coach at a local high school team in the area (district favorites this year!)).

  34. Stephen permalink
    November 16, 2011

    I really do wish the USSF would provide some standards for D3 to go by.

  35. yankiboy permalink
    November 16, 2011

    “@Bart

    It may feel so good get with as many girls as possible but just because it feels good doesn’t mean it is right when you go home to your wife that you are lying to.”

    DW: I’ll call the online trainer because, while I am no physio, I’m pretty sure that you hyperextended something there with that ENORMOUS overeach…

    Your posts on the subject have been entertaining and informative and at times–both.

    But please don’t throw Bart in to the same wine vat as the rest of of unfaithful types around here.

    1)Everybody knows that he doesn’t have to lie to his wife because it is a clearly established fact that he beats her. So I hardly think that she has any leverage to demand any sort of explanations about his whereabouts.

    2) (and I repeat)-That is one ENORMOUS OVEREACH.

    We’re talking about US minor league soccer franchises (in particular, Tamper), not about marital infidelity.

    I enjoy carzy hyperbole but c’mon, Bro. Just a tad HEAVY-handed, don’t ya think. I’ve got a ladder to help you come down from that lofty soapbox. 🙂

    Ok. Now I wanna listen to some Johnny Cash (“Walk the Line” and “Cry, Cry, Cry”) or go watch Cheaters reruns and thank heaven that I never got featured on that show.

  36. fsufiji permalink
    November 16, 2011

    I have been a season ticket holder for both FCTB and OCSC for each season the teams have existed and have my checks already cashed for next year. I attend both Mob and Ruckus events and enjoy both “levels” of soccer. Several have posted about Division 3 not knowing their place and while I have been out of the country during much of the past 20 years and missed the events that have separated the minor league community into such hateful camps I think some of you may need to go see the products that are on the field.
    My observations on that topic:
    1. I have talked frankly to the players there is very little difference in pay between these two teams unlike single a and double a baseball teams that we have a few of around the sunshine state. The lions seem to have a very few guys playing for Arena Football kind of paychecks ($300 a week and meals) but most of the guys are making real salaries.
    2. On twitter and facebook I get several stories/info blast each day from USL and different USL teams however I may get one item a day from all NASL entities combined. I do count this as a sign of league/team professionalism and USL Pro wins there.
    3. The Lions had a great support crew from the city who had port a potties and garbage collection at our tailgates ($10 to park and no bars around), inside the Citrus Bowl the Lions improved every game and had a beer garden and a small carpeted rink for the kids to play in and the playoffs were great with the team really putting on a show. The Rowdies ($5) didn’t have as many things organized pregame or in the small walkways inside the stadium (but downtown St Pete is awesome with 30 bars within 1/2 mile of ALF) and the game experience would be horrid if not for the unpaid Mob keeping things going. The playoffs were a joke and felt like a July game.
    I don’t see a difference and just because the USSF says they are division 3 that they need to act less professional or not try to arrange for sponsors and fans.
    I can see this a clear sign the USL is trying to cut cost by putting a team in Tampa and I would hope Jacksonville to make it easier for teams to bus to Wilmington, Charleston, Orlando (maybe Chattanooga). Play an unbalanced schedule and all these teams can make money.
    I look forward to seeing the USL Tampa team follow the OCSC blueprint and go after the Hispanic community in Tampa and the youth soccer communities of Brandon and Temple Terrace. Being on the Latin radio stations and getting a thousand of those fans to attend games at USF will make them a profit. I disagree with most on this board; I think the Tampa Bay area can support two teams 30 miles apart. Heck, we put 10,000 in the seats for lingerie football.

  37. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ FSUFiji…the question beckons…are you going to get season tickets for USL Pro Tampa, also? If you do…you get my vote for Soccer Fan of the Year!

  38. cudafan permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Hello fella’s just think this time last year Antigua got all the stick and I notice nothing has changed BUT as you have heard we are still a USL club, moved into the semi final round of WCQ so if you wish to see how Antigua football is my freinds then watch the game June 8th …oh yes we had a very good 1st year and look forward to even better 2012. Watched a few NASL games and must say cudos you soccer fans a good league ( both leagues) you have and may you grow stronger………………….peace from the islands

  39. speedcake permalink
    November 16, 2011

    As president of the Mob I’ve really been struggling with how to react to this whole deal. The first order of business, I believe, is for those of us loyal to FCTB and the NASL to take off the kiddie gloves and start demanding that our club improves how they operate, at all levels.

    It is dishonest to suggest that they have not made alot of mistakes or that they have not struggled to really connect with the soccer community. The front office is severely understaffed, marketing leaves much to be desired, game day experience needs alot of improvement and so on and so on.

    I think we also need to be very careful about how we react to, or treat, other fans who choose to give the USL team a shot. The last thing we need now is to further divide the soccer community. FCTB moving to Al Lang in St. Pete alienated alot of fans in Tampa and Hillsborough County. Just as playing at George Steinbrenner last season made it difficult to woo St. Pete area fans.

    I have no problem with being persuasive in trying to keep fans loyal to FCTB, but let’s stay positive about it because one day it is very likely that one or other other of these two teams won’t make it. Having hard feelings and anger between fan bases will only make things worse.

    Did USLpro persuade VisionPro to choose Tampa for this operation? We don’t know that yet. VisionPro may have approached them, may have already been looking at the Brandon Flames, and who is USLpro to turn down a franchise fee for PDL and USLpro teams?

    Do I think USLpro tried at all to persuade VisionPro to go elsewhere due to the potential issues with dealing with a fractured fan base? Probably not. It doesn’t take a genius to see how throwing a wrench in the gears of FCTB and the NASL only benefits USLpro down the road.

    Regardless, we have a full season before the USLpro team starts play. I suggest those of us loyal to FCTB and the NASL use that time as efficiently as possible by ramping up our own recruitment of new fans and pressuring FCTB to get their act together.

  40. November 16, 2011

    Some people sure spend a lot of energy concentrating on the third division while simultaneously telling everybody how inconsequential it is. How about don’t worry about it?

    If you really think one organization or the other sucks, don’t worry yourself over it. The market will decide if one team in one market or any market or country survives.

    This new team might or might not happen, which is no different from any other team at any level. Focus on the PR teams that folded, but not St. Louis and Baltimore? They folded, too. Teams fold. Teams struggle. It’s not stopping any time soon.

    Nobody has all the answers at any level. If they did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  41. Strikers Return permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @speedcake – Well said. In the end, any league is only as strong as its member teams. This is minor league soccer, so clubs aren’t going to do it all themselves. Passionate fans mean more to these teams than they probably do in most other sports. Doing everything we can to promote them in our communities is priceless to the endeavor. Good luck to you guys, and I’ll say it for the 5,000th time, they’ve GOT to get the Rowdies name back to realize the full potential of the team’s marketability…..

    @BQ – Appreciate the post to try and get the discussion back on track. One thing I gotta question you on though. You said, “… I truly believe they are working hard to right those past mistakes with their new ownership.” For me, this is a real head scratcher. In just the last year or so we have all of the following from USL ownership:

    1. Using a large portion of their AGM recap announcement to talk about possible future franchises in San Antonio and Ft. Lauderdale. Both markets with NASL teams.

    2. Formation of the International Division in their “new regional” league model, with three teams in Puerto Rico, one in Antigua, and one in Los Angeles.

    3. LA team official saying Caribbean federations would be helping foot the bill for travel to those countries for USL games. A day or two later Holt clarifies saying that is not correct and all teams are responsible for their own travel expenses.

    4. About a third of the way into the season, the International Division collapses due to the contraction of all three Puerto Rican based teams.

    It’s easy to look at all of these things and say, yep, looks like the same old USL we’ve been seeing for the last, what, 10 years? But let’s look deeper. What was the motivation behind all these things, the root cause? Was it that USL was doing what they claimed they were going to do which was set up a regional D3 league, and somehow that didn’t quite work out? If that had been the case, I’d have said, hey, you gave it a good shot, at least you were doing what you said, and it was something that seems to make sense for the D3 level. But what we saw instead was all of the above. I’m not trying to bash USL here, I’m simply saying that it seems very illogical to me to say they’re trying hard to right the wrongs of the past based on these actions and as yankiboy stated in the other thread, very predictable outcomes.

    I’ve said all along I’m absolutely for USL D3 working in this country. I’m for a soccer pyramid that can be grown and stabilized, one that looks like the other soccer powers of the world. What USL should have done, was take the 10 teams from the two divisions that now remain (excluding Antigua and LA) and make them the core of their USL Pro division. I don’t think anyone would argue with that strategy. You’ve got enough teams to divide into two regional divisions, play some kind of unbalanced schedule, and bang, you’ve got a solid foundation to build out from with the likes of Charleston, Wilmington, Richmond, Orlando, etc. Maybe this year you add a Boston Victory club. You tell LA to drop down to PDL and try to build something from the train wreck that was their first season, in a much easier economic place, until they have at least 6 teams to form a western division. The framework is there! A 3rd grader could connect the dots! But for some unknown reason (can you blame people for drawing the franchise fee conclusion?) they ignore what they have, and get a wandering eye, just like always.

    @FSUfiji – Cudos to you my friend for supporting two local soccer teams! One thing I’ll say about your commetns though. Don’t know how aware you are of how the Lions came to be in Orlando, but honestly, it’s no surprise that they did so well in D3. They moved a D2 team, kept a good number of players and the coach, and from what I’ve heard (someone else could certainly speak to it better I’m sure) didn’t really cut player salaries in any significant way, possibly even increased over last year. Their ownership group came out looking to make a splash this year, off the field and on, and they spent money to do it. And give them credit, it worked. They averaged what, like 5,000-6,000 fans, and had 11,000 for the final. And they were easily the best team in the league. Lots of fans talked about wanting to see the development of a three-way Florida derby between the Lions, Rowdies, and Strikers. Not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon, but it would be a fun, and probably pretty evenly contested derby.

  42. WSW permalink
    November 16, 2011

    At the OSC fan, USL basically wanted a “new” facelift so they moved a team from Austin which already had a foundation and great players.

    Also the only threat they had was Rochester but Rochester had almost all their players leave,
    so basically OSC played against teams that were PDL, and USL-2 teams.

    It’s like if the Galaxy played against MLS reserve teams, who do you think would win the league and who would get the best attendance it’s obvious.

  43. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @ Speedcake…I enjoyed reading your thoughts, and appreciate you sticking your neck out on here. Agreed that The FCTB front office should work on improving, but in their defense Ive seen plenty of effort since the end of the season, certainly more than this time last year. The club should always strive for more, as you suggest, but as Strikers Return says “Passionate fans mean more to these teams than they probably do in most other sports. Doing everything we can to promote them in our communities is priceless to the endeavor.” Its all hands on deck in Minor League soccer. Now, while I dont plan on slashing any tires over this, Im also not handing over money and slaps on the back with the competition….and I hope potential soccer sponsors in the Bay Area dont either. Im cool with PDL here, but when you start saying ‘two pro teams’, that means money out of FCTB’s pocket…and we all know money isnt just flowing in. Remember, every person who is sitting at a game at USF when there is a Rowdies’ game going on is lost money for FCTB. You say the last thing this area needs is a further divide, but thats what this is doing. The whole announcement is a divide…on purpose, I feel. There wasnt a divide until USL announced its intentions. Im a Rowdies fan, not a ‘whoever does it best fan’, so you can find me in St. Pete.

    @ Strikers Return…you said, “…I’m absolutely for USL D3 working in this country” and I say I am too, which is why I dont like this announcement. USL knows theyve got fall back options and a clear coast for roaming, NASL doesnt. If The USSF would just publish some D3 sanctions, the chips would have to fit together in a way you suggest. If that happened, none of this backhanded, power play garbage that is currently going on would continue because it couldnt. Ive attended more PDL games than I can count and I love it! When teamed with college ball, Its a fine ‘4th division’ for now. PDL makes so much sense that you would think it could influence its faulty league ‘brother’, the 3rd Division.

    @ KT…I agree with much of your post. I think you hit the nail on the head with ‘nobody having the answers…’ Thats true! Works in progress…

    I do, however, disagree with you when you said, “If you really think one organization or the other sucks, don’t worry yourself over it. The market will decide if one team in one market or any market or country survives.” Well, seeing as how I am physically part of ‘The Market’, I would like to decide that my team survives. That means geting vocal about my team/league on message boards and in friends ears’. If we sit back and wait and see what happens, we dont deserve anything in the end.

  44. WSW permalink
    November 17, 2011

    I don’t have a problem if somebody wants to support both teams, I do have a problem if somebody calls themself a FCTB fan then jumps ship to a “inferior” league and supports that team.

    1. This isn’t Europe where it’s the only sport and it’s easier to build inner city rivalries.

    2. The only thing everybody talks about in US sports is attendance, which they don’t talk about everywhere else, I wonder why??? some leagues have clubs where their is 5k-30k and it’s the norm.

    3. Either we have one team in Tampa that survives or no team, the market is too small to have two pro teams.

    4. What I have learned over the years is all about loyalty, one club for life.

    5. The bandwagon thing man I thought soccer fans were smarter here, unlike other US sports, I guess I’m wrong.

    6. IF St. Pete had a USL team and Tampa had FCTB I still would drive to Tampa and support FCTB.

  45. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @ WSW…beautiful post! I couldnt agree more. Im tired of people using this as a reason to kick FCTB in the butt. They arent a marketing juggernaut for a reason. 3100 fans a game does not make you rich, and not being rich means you cant market to your max effort to attract more fans. This is a slow grow! Its more about name recogniton and familiarity than anything, and that takes time, years even. If anyone thinks the ‘grass is greener’ with a new team, they will learn a hard lesson. Just remember what FCTB was like their first season. Alot of wrinkles to iron, there…but were doing it now, I think.

    The attendance thing cracks me up, too. What do people expect? If you sat Nestor down and asked him honestly, I bet he would be over the moon with 5K for a little while. 10K would make us one of the better teams in the nation at any level, so our goal is in the middle somewhere. I can forgive FCTB for thier numbers considering theyve moved venues and the first was really bad. Once again, its a slow process and Im sure the FCTB brass isnt freaking out yet.

  46. November 17, 2011

    “some leagues have clubs where their is 5k-30k and it’s the norm.”

    …and many leagues and teams in Europe and in South American are struggling as well because of reduced attendance due to the world wide recession and over inflated players salaries.

    “@ WSW…beautiful post! – The attendance thing cracks me up, too. What do people expect? 10K would make us one of the better teams in the nation at any level”

    It would certainly not. It would make you nearly 2,000 less than the worst team in MLS, the San Jose Earthquakes at 11,858 average for the 2011 season. It would make you 7,872 less that the average MLS team. So it would make you the 19th best attended soccer team in Canada and the U.S.

    5,000 and with proper management and the right sponsors would make most D-2 teams happy for now. But again that depends on stadium agreements, concessions, sponsors, player costs, etc…

    However, 5,000 would make you a team that averages 277 under the average Rochester and Orlando crowd. It would make you a team just 1,231 more than this years Ft. Lauderdale Strikers and It would make you a team that averages just over 500 more than the Fresno Fuego PDL team. BTW, remember that PDL does not pay their players for the most part. So think about the profit Fresno are making – IF those figures aren’t a lot of comp tickets.

    Sorry guys but it’s more than a little silly to have a conversation between yourselves , patting yourselves on the back, all to say attendance doesn’t matter. Attendance is everything. It’s the life blood of a team. Poor attendance, no team. Poor attendance, no league.

    The fact of the matter is that NASL costs in general are quite a bit higher than the USL PRO’s costs. The story out of Rochester is that even though attendance is down, there costs are reduced this season. So for the NASL, they HAVE TO do better at the box office than the USL PRO teams are doing. The more teams for USL PRO, the more regionalized they will become and again, the more they then reduce costs to their teams. That’s their business model. I still wish they didn’t operate on a franchise fee with the USL running the show. Yes, there is a board of governors for USL PRO made up of owners and yes, in truth there are even higher fees to join the NASL which some would call a franchise fee; The NASL would not call it that. But the NASL model is the league is owned (not now but eventually and there is more team ownership diversity) by owners. It is a different model, but it is also a more expensive model. If it succeeds, their owners will do better than USL PRO owners could do in that the league owners would share in the profits of sponsorship and the like. However, there are no league sponsorships at this time, not TV contracts and I guarantee there will not be any national contracts for some time. At least the kind that actually makes them money. So these are all pie-in-the-sky possibilities that could still be a long ways off. So for now it’s all about building your fan base otherwise known as attendance.

    While I am a firm believer after watching USL PRO on FOX Soccer this past summer and watching nearly every game the Minnesota Stars played and many from other teams on U-Stream, the overall product on the field in NASL is for the most part better than the USL PRO product. I have no doubts about that in my mind. However, Orlando could have competed with anyone. Not sure I can say the same about Rochester. They were not a very dynamic team this year although they were pretty competitive. Wilmington and Harrisburg had good teams as well. But several players who I talked to this summer whom have played in both D-2 and now in D-3 USL PRO, said the level of play in D-2, overall, is better, more mature with a higher quality.

    With all that said, the bottom line is attendance and sponsorships. If you can get those two items done and reduce your costs as well, you may – just may have a chance to survive as a soccer team and as a soccer league. It’s a long shot that I appreciate any owner taking, no matter what league they are playing in.

  47. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 17, 2011

    I just want to see this backslapping continue.

    The team is not doing very well. 3,009 was the average for the NASL season. 3,100+ if you include a game against an EPL team. Which, it should be noted, is a fairly embarrassing attendance total for a game against a team in the EPL.

    Even the Thunder got 5,000+ versus a first division team, Burnley, a few years back.

    Don’t throw your shoulder out of socket.

  48. speedcake permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Of course we hope that fans will keep supporting FCTB. That has been our club for two years and we have one more season before the USLpro team begins play. I didn’t suggest to anyone that they shouldn’t try and persuade other FCTB fans from jumping ship.

    All I suggested was to cool any animosity towards fans who might want to check the new team out. I frankly think it’s pretty stupid to attack them or speak down to them or do anything else negative.

    Some of you guys are pretending that FCTB has done a great job of connecting with fans and that somehow they are untouchable. Just being D2 doesn’t matter. Casual fans don’t know a think about the difference between the two divisions. What they do see is how the product is presented and how fans are treated.

    For example right now on the FCTB online store you can purchase the commemorative scarf from the FCTB vs. Bolton game on sale for $7.50. They were sold for $20 at the game itself. Not the regular team scarf, the commemorative one time only scarf. That is some bullcrap and its standard operating procedure for FCTB.

    I frankly would like my money back because I purchased one for full price on game day thinking I was getting something special. Jokes on me I guess.

    No, the reality is that FCTB has yet to earn the fans that some of you guys think should just be flocking to games. They have ALOT of work to do and we hope they take this challenge seriously.

  49. yankiboy permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @ fsufiji: The fact that you are so harcore, so dedicated and put your money and time behind two pro minor league soccer clubs that are 80 or so miles apart makes me have to bow down and pay homage–Playah. To the point that I’m not gonna goof you over the “hateful” speech.

    Love the perspective from someone who is in the trenches, at both venues.

    You obviously bring a lot to the discussion. No doubt.

    What I do doubt is any of the clubs ever seeing a profit. I don’t care if it comes from the USL or the NASL or any marketing/consulting firms hired by the leagues.

    I think survival is the goal of the clubs because I am still waiting to read something that convinces me that one of these clubs actually made money. Not even Orlando City or Charleston.

    And it ain’t gonna happen in San Anton (no matter the wonderful intentions of the gentleman who owns the club there).

    On a side note, you guys get 10K for football a la lingerie?!?!

    Wow.

  50. yankiboy permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @cudafan: Props on the success in the WCQ’s and with Barracuda FC. I saw a few of their games online and I was imopressed with what I saw. I like the flavour that the Barracuda FC announcers bring to the commentary.

    Who knows, I might end up adopting Barracuda FC as my USLPRO team.

  51. Bart permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Hey BQ,

    You sound like someone who needs to own a professional soccer team. You clearly understand the model for both minor league levels.

    Should we begin sending emails to NASL, supporting your efforts to take over ownership of the Stars? If you owned the team, while in search of a joint venture equity partner, it might make USSF feel even better about the Stars come February.

  52. Steve permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Don’t knock the lingerie league. That was a better quality of play than I’ve seen from the Bucs this year.

    …I’ll see myself out.

  53. November 17, 2011

    Interesting quotes here from both Holt and Nestor:

    http://www.tampabay.com/sports/soccer/united-soccer-leagues-brings-team-to-tampa-joining-fc-tampa-bay/1202111

    “We certainly recognize that there’s another professional soccer team that plays out of St. Pete,” USL president Tim Holt said. “I wouldn’t want to say we’re competing. I think people would see it that way to some extent. And we don’t. We’re very focused on our own initiative. If this were just another professional soccer team, it would be different. But it’s a different composition”

    “I honestly don’t think that this market can support two professional teams,” Nestor said. “I can’t say that I figured USL would want a team in Tampa, but it doesn’t surprise me.

    “Me personally, if I were just investing in the game and looking at the Tampa Bay market and seeing there was already an NASL team in that market, I would not think it’s a good investment to put another team here.”

    @Super Rookie
    The Thunder played only one exhibition game in 2009 against C.S.D. Comunicaciones (Guatemala) and drew 4,891 for the game.
    The game against Championship side Burnley in 2008 drew 7,154.

    Orlando City drew just under 7K for their game against Bolton which in fairness to FCTB was before the FCTB game so I’m sure that pulled numbers down a little . But still I have to agree with you, the attendance number for FCTB vs Bolton was a very big disappointment. That game should have drawn much better than that.

  54. speedcake permalink
    November 17, 2011

    The Bolton game was both scheduled VERY late, leaving little time for proper marketing, and was held mid week. Not excusing the poor attendance, just putting some more facts out there.

    It’ll be interesting to see if we get another big name friendly, get it scheduled well ahead of time so that both clubs can market to their fans (Bolton fans didnt find out about the game against us until long after any travel packages would have been purchased for their U.S. tour) and have it played on a weekend date.

  55. November 17, 2011

    @Steve 🙂

    @Bart I think “most” of the owners in the NASL understand exactly what needs to be done. The problem of course is implementing it. That of course is always the problem.

  56. yankiboy permalink
    November 17, 2011

    “I don’t have a problem if somebody wants to support both teams, I do have a problem if somebody calls themself a FCTB fan then jumps ship to a “inferior” league and supports that team.”

    …The bandwagon thing man I thought soccer fans were smarter here, unlike other US sports, I guess I’m wrong.

    -wsw

    Wow, Bro.

    Earlier I was joking with my man, the legend himself, thesuperrookie and suggested that he needed to induldge in some Chardonnay so that he could mellow out a bit.

    Now I’m going to suggest that you talk with the FCTB to see if they can give you a hook up for some free vino to help with the stress of being FCTB’s number one crusader.

    There’s “hardcore” and then there is just plain, old “hard”.

    I’m not sure what made you think that some of us soccer fans are “smarter” than any other sportsfans here in the US but hey…I’m pleased with anyone who I can trick into thinking that I am smarter than the next guy.

    Sounds like FCTB needs to step up their game–or should I say “gameday experience”???

    I’m not so sure that everyone is going to be as hardcore “Green and Yellow” as you are when the new club kicks off in 2013.

    Vineyards FC had better hope that your dedication and fervor are going to be the norm and not the exception.

    If they were smart, they would give you some sort of title like “Community Liason” or something and hook you up with some nice perks to help spread their somewhat failing message because unless they get their act together, it sounds like they are going to be facing even more difficulties than they already are right now.

    Buyt hey–what am I thinking?!?!? The management there claims that everything is just peachy and under control (my words–not theirs).

  57. Bart permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Hey BQ

    Don’t slide away from the question. 🙂 While most owners at NASL may understand what needs to be done, the fact remains that the Stars need an owner. My vote is on you!

  58. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @ Brian…several post back you gave some very enlightnening numbers about attendance. The facts you give only strengthen this question to USL: Why a second Pro team in Tampa? Its just not sustainable….for either…and the competition isnt healthy, its very toxic…for both!

    Sports attendance in Tampa is an epidemic. Look at EVERY sport and you find bad numbers. Its just the case. I understand that these attendance numbers are important, but I also feel that the FCTB management are aware of the uphill battle. Nobody is ‘slapping anyone on the back’, but Im certainly more proud and interested in the ‘start’ that FCTB (the royal FCTB…we as fans included) than I am in this embryonic version which will only serve as a watering down of the Tampa soccer market.

    @ Speedcake….nobody is gonna hurt anybody! Nobody is going to trash anybody! There are no new fans to have animosity towards at this point. Im not so sure who your worried about offending. Any potential backers of this new team will need to know the details. Thats where were at. There are now going to be 2 teams here….meaning a choice for a fan’s soccer dollar. They should know facts, and I plan to give them to them. Look, your in The Mob…What are their feelings on Orlando City FC? Not good, right? Now….imagine a new Orlando City…In our back yard! Taking our fans, taking potential sponsors, taking resources. You can be ‘welcoming’ if you want, but not me…because the financial sustainability of my Minor League soccer habit is looking bleak, and if FCTB goes away soon, you can bet it was because of competition…and I certainly wont be switching to the new team if thats the case.

    Nothing good will come of this new team for FCTB….mark my words!

    Of course, I still have that ‘Donut bet’ with Yankiboy that says they bail on a Pro team before one ball is kicked!

  59. Silly permalink
    November 17, 2011

    I also wonder if they are counting on the youth teams they are partnering with. I would have to go back and read the original article again, but I think it was like 3000ish in the youth affiliation. That right there is more than are attending FCTB games on a regular basis. They could be counting on getting fans directly out of the affiliation hoping that there is some of ownership if the youth are wearing the same crest. I know youth affiliations have not proven all that successful, but that could be the angle they are going for.

  60. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @ Speedcake…in the end, If this kills FCTB, at that point I would rather stimulate the ‘MLS economy’ than The ‘USL Pro’ version. I would just buy MLS Direct Kick (or whatever its called) and watch better soccer in my house. Im not going to go sit in a boring venue (for Pro, mind you) with 1K maximum and watch bad soccer just because its live. I wont be held hostage like that. I believe in what NASL is doing, not what USL Pro is doing (or has done) and thats the major factor for me. I can go watch High School soccer for free and drive half the distance, and chances are I would be just as entertained. If USL Pro wants Tampa soccer fans to make a choice…fine…Ive made mine. I choose FCTB or pay-per-view at my house. Surely, you’ll undertand this. If FCTB goes away, what kind of atmosphere do you think will exist at this new team’s games? We see the same people every week at FCTB games…are people just going to all of a sudden wear a new jersey and insert a new name into the existing FCTB chants? There arent 50K of us…there are 3-4K of us! (relax, Superrookie…Im counting potentials as well) What a strange atmosphere that would be to ‘pretend’ like we care a bunch about this new team. Im not fanatical about soccer just to be fanatical, I have to have a reason. FCTB coming back and making a go at the Second Division is more notable. I grew up at Tampa Stadium for Rowdies games back in the day, and The NASL version seems to speak to me/us. If Im seeing all of you at some new stadium, cheering on a new team because they ‘out-marketed’ FCTB, then it just wont have the same feeling for me and I probably wont go. Sorry!

    If people want to be fans of both…thats great…but what would you say when there are two home games happening simultaneously? An inevitability of the situation! Fans have to make a choice, and Im betting that USL Pro is more than happy to provide that sabotage to FCTB.

  61. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Of course, you can erase eveything Ive said if this new team just stays PDL….and they will probably get my support on weekends when FCTB is away!

    The problem is and will always be ‘two PRO teams!’

  62. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @ Speedcake…The ‘great divide’ is in place! Read the link to The Times article that BQ posted. They couldnt be more set on this being a ‘Hillsborough County’ team, and that means they are trying to exploit the know ‘whiner driver’ factor that exists between sports fans here. When FCTB moved to St. Pete, the grumbling about ‘driving way over there…’ started right up, didnt it?! We would all like to have pro soccer played in our back yard, but there can only be one stadium and its just not possible for everyone to be happy. USL seems bent on catering to those Hillsborough County residents that whined about that, hoping they’ll abandon FCTB and a frighteningly back-breaking (yet scenic) 30 mile drive on an Interstate.

    I live in Tarpon Springs, which is not going to EVER host pro soccer, so Im in for a drive no matter what. Ill drive anywhere to watch soccer if it feels right, but since they could care less if I go since Im not an ‘HCR’, I guess I wont worry about driving out of my way. Thanks for making that decision easy for me and any other Pinellas County residents, USL!

  63. Tom permalink
    November 17, 2011

    When discussing attendance figures there is oftentimes a big difference between attendance, paid attendance, and actual gate receipts. All depends on who/what league is reporting them. FYI – my understanding is most Fresno Fuego (who routinely draw upwards of 5K game) tickets are free as they are subsidized by their large hispanic sponsors like Bimbo/Univision and since they are PDL have a much, much lower costing structure. When they were supporting the MN Thunder, MYSA use to send out a free ticket to every club player which inflated numbers and NSC youth tournament players (USA Cup, etc…) were also extremely discounted if not comped, Antigua always reports attendance figurues in big, fat round numbers (doesn’t lend much credibility), the average cost for a Hammerhead ticket might be $6-$7, etc… The challenge that every club at every level has is in finding the balance between ticket cost, potential concessions revenue, comp youth tickets as they compel mom/dad to buy a ticket and spend money, and appealing to sponsors.
    Unless folks have all of this information (and few do as they are confidential to the club) discussing or comparing attendance numbers is difficult and can be misleading. Oftentimes you are comparing apples to oranges (or oranges to tangerines – similar but not the same).

  64. Steve permalink
    November 17, 2011

    I think Silly hit a good point here. BAYSL has over 3,000 members. 4 of those leagues are adult leagues, but the rest are under 19 kids, and the leagues go year-round. If even 1/6 of those kids get a parent to buy season tickets (USL Season Tickets aren’t exactly wallet breakers), the grandstand portion of Corbett is full. That also puts them sixth in the USL Pro in attendance.

    If you’re a soccer Mom, and your kid has been part of a youth league for X number of years, and the company that invested a boatload of cash into the academy, along with bringing in a bunch of lecturers/coaches/etc. has a professional team a mere 10 minute drive up I-75, you think you’re going to say no to season seats?

    Side note–Grant, it would behoove you to pick one narrative and stick with it. If you want to call me a “traitor” (your words) for even daring to give this new team a chance and people in Hillsborough County that don’t want to drive across the bridge “whiners” (your words), that’s fine. You can do that. But to come back a few posts later and deny trying to trash anybody is just intellectually dishonest.

    More to the point, it strikes me as odd that you’ve been posting non-stop (I honestly think you’ve written more words about FCTB this week than all the local media did the entire season combined) for a few days on this topic about how you are Rowdie `til You Die and all, but speaking as someone who has been there since Day 1, and gone out of my way to be overly social at every team event since the team began…I have no idea who in the blazes you are. I would have thought that someone as die-hard as you would have at least come up and said hello to the president of the supporters group. Of course, I’m a bit of an odd-ball, so I’ll take the fault there, and just look forward to meeting you at the Season Ticket Holder Party before next season.

  65. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @ Steve…OH, Im starting to get it now! So, your first comment on this whole topic – 3 articles ago – when you said “Tell me where I can pick up my season tickets!” for the new team, you werent kidding…and so its you who wants some civility, for yourself, since you may switch allegiances. Got it! And all this time I was wondering who these ‘new fans’ may be. They may be Steve!

    About the posting…sorry…I didnt realize I was way off base posting about Tampa area soccer when I, in fact, hold season tickets to a Tampa Bay soccer team. Your probably right! I should wait and comment on another topic that I dont know anything about.

    As for you not ‘knowing me’…well, I dont know you either! Who cares? What does that have to do with anything?! I have a single season ticket and bring a new fan to every game – sometimes friends, sometimes colleagues, sometimes family – but I generally use my time at FCTB games to do other things besides mingle with the supporters group. Sorry, I guess! I admire and appreciate everything the supporters group, but your way out of line to suggest that just because ‘you dont know who the blazes I am’, that im insignificant or dont have a right to speak my mind. You need to back up, buddy, because you come on here talking about ‘talking trash’ but then suggest that if someone doesnt ‘know you!’ that they arent a valid enough fan?! Sounds like textbook hypocrisy, Steve! Im sorry, I didnt realize that I had to ‘present’ myself to anyone, especially someone who is considering switching allegiances. How about you ‘pick one narrative and stick with!’

  66. Tom permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @Steve,
    Not sure about your 1/6 number. MYSA has 75,000 youth (6-19) members making it 25X larger than BAYSL. Based on your numbers, the MN Stars should be deciding where to build their MLS SSS instead of struggling ownerless in D2.

  67. Steve permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Well, while Grant’s on his Jump to Conclusions mat, I’ll get back to the topic at-hand.

    @Tom –

    As I understand it (and please correct me if I’m wrong, because I don’t know the whole story about the Thunder/youth academy), I think there’s a small difference. VSI is buying an existing academy that was struggling for a partnership and sponsorship. The Thunder were combining two smaller academies and putting them together in a different place. VSI is instead creating an entire pyramid of soccer all their own, bringing kids up from a young age at the academy to the Super-20 team, then to PDL, then (ideally) to the USL Pro team. Worst case scenario, VSI has a built-in giveaway base for the tickets. Best case scenario, they provide season tickets as an add-in to the registration, and get a season ticket base that is just as large as FCTB’s is already.

    But, again, if I’m misunderstanding the history of the Thunder issue, any links you can provide to educate me, I’d appreciate. All I know for certain about that time period is that Dean Johnson only had one pair of shoes.

  68. Danwolf permalink
    November 17, 2011

    You would Think that VSI would Invest in FCTB rather then start a 2nd Pro men’s soccer team in 3rd division trying compete with a 2nd division team. I think it is great they wanna start an PDL and Women’s team but the Men’s Team is a bad idea. I would rather VSI try to work with FCTB then create a team that at best will fold in 2 years and FCTB still going foward or at worst No more professional soccer in TB in 5 years.

  69. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @ Steve…I promise to be nice to you when your new team ‘FC my car wont go over the bridge’ plays FCTB, is that what you want to hear? Your a disgrace to our fanbase…and I guess I can forget about seeing you at the supporters event, because you wont be there, will you? Youve got some real nerve, man, and I hope other Rowdies’ fans are seeing you call out your own on a public forum about the competition coming to town. Meanwhile, continue strategizing VSI’s ticket approach and stating how “Best case scenario, they provide season tickets as an add-in to the registration, and get a season ticket base that is just as large as FCTB’s is already.” That would be a best case scenario for your new team….wouldnt it, Steve?!

  70. November 17, 2011

    Grant, you get a yellow card on that one. You know what comes after that.

    I totally appreciate your consistent readership and comments to this site. I remember you were also extremely critical of me as well when I did the article about the issues FCTB had earlier in the season. That was fine, you didn’t need to agree with me. But we’ve never allowed people to call others names or make accusations here on this site. “a disgrace to our fanbase” is out of line, thus the yellow card.

    Yanki hit on this earlier, but this I’m a better fan than you are business is not a lot different from an I’m more religious than you are. It just doesn’t sit well with anyone. Everyone has a right to make their own choices without being criticized. If you want to give reasons why he should remain an FCTB fan that’s fine and I believe you’ve already made those points many times over. But we’re not doing the “you’re a disgrace” thing. I know Steve has worked super hard, as hard of not harder than anyone I know of in the Tampa area to make that team a success from the supporters side. So not only is it now ok, it’s not fair either. I appreciate you cooperation.

  71. November 17, 2011

    Oh, and Steve…I totally agree with Tom. What MLS found out after 10 years of trying, is that the youth soccer market is part of the equation but they are certainly not the driving force in the equation. As a youth coach for 18 years and having 2 of my three adult children play club soccer as youths, the last thing most soccer mom’s and dad’s want to do after spending 3-7 nights/days (weekend tourney’s as well) is spend more time and more money (the sport isn’t cheap to play anymore either) watching soccer. When the weekend comes and you’ve spent 3 or 4 evenings for the last month or more driving your kid around to game and training sessions, come the weekend you’re thinking about going to the beach or to grandma’s house or to the neighbors pool party or anything but soccer. I think most families are good for a night or two at the soccer park to watch pro soccer during the season. But it’s extremely rare for those folks to buy season tickets and quite frankly, I don’t blame them.

  72. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Whoa…’extremely critical’ of you is a little much isnt it, Brian?

    Save the yellow…Im red carding myself…Im not sticking around here while people like Steve talk to me like that.

    Peace, everyone!

    IM ROWDIES TILL I DIE!

  73. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Steve-

    We can lead the disgraced fanbase fans at the new USL Pro team if they offer a good gameday experience, because in the end that is what I know both of us want. Up until this time the FCTB front office has failed to do that. Hence, my critique of the situation.

    Grant-

    You are coming across as a cheerleader for FCTB. That is great, everyteam needs one. But, you can’t suggest for one second that a little competition in the market place (even if it never gets off the ground) could actually be a good thing by causing FCTB to step-up its game. No, you can’t admit this, because that would mean that you are accepting to the fact that FCTB could do a much better job in all facets of the organization.

    Don’t blindly follow a team. I have. It really sucks in the end when all you thought was golden turned out to be a rented Jaguar, a single-pair of high shoes and a mountain of debt.

  74. Tom permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @BQ – agreed.
    Steve was correct about the “Johnson” MN Thunder scenario, but he may not be aware that the current MN Stars are the re-incarnation of the original MN Thunder who began play in 1990. Before the MN Thunder we had the Kicks in the original NASL – battling the original Rowdies. MSP has always had a team and prior to the Johnson area always had great support of MYSA.
    What resulted from the consolidation of the two youth teams (Bangu Tsunami and Wings) under the MN Thunder Academy youth umbrella was that many other competing clubs felt that supporting the MN Thunder professional team directly/indirectly benefitted the MN Thunder youth club and pulled their support for the professional team – yes, youth soccer is a business and highly competitive.
    @Steve – I am not sure how competitive the Tampa-St. Pete youth soccer landscape is, but it would not surprise me if the clubs that compete with BAYSL don’t exactly beat down the doors to bust through the turnstiles. As I believe BQ alluded to earlier, USSF is also having pushback in the markets where the respective MLS team has an affiliated youth club.

  75. Danwolf permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Brian,
    Will you being a podcast anytime soon and could you get someone from Ralph’s Mob and/or Miami Ultras to come on and get how they take on this.

  76. Steve permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Brian & Tom,

    I can certainly see that angle of it, and don’t blame anyone who needs a break in that instance. The idea I had, which I probably didn’t communicate all too well, was it only takes a rather small percentage of that 3,000+ base to fill up Corbett Stadium. Add to that the large Hispanic Population that has their own five-a-side leagues near USF (Cinco Soccer is less than a ten minute drive from the stadium), and while it’s not the end-all be-all, it’s a deep pool to attempt to draw from.

  77. November 17, 2011

    Nothing in the near future Dan but I very much like the idea. Thank you.

  78. Danwolf permalink
    November 17, 2011

    You can’t count on a demographic to much. Just because there is a large Hispanic population doesn’t mean a strong support for any AMERICAN soccer club. Most (not all) follow the clubs from their heritage company and look down on US soccer. It is alot like the Eurosnob attitude. Now don’t get me wrong, I think everyone has the right to support any club in the world they want but at the same time i wish people who are soccer fans in the US that don’t support an American Club would adopt one. Then you have the Minor League attitude here that refuses to see the potential in the future. Just a thought.

  79. Danwolf permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Your welcome Brian. And Thank You for giving us a top sight for D2, D3, and so on soccer Site. Here’s to hoping The USSF take some more interest in Stabilizing the lower leagues.

  80. Lisa permalink
    November 17, 2011

    First off thanks to BQ for this website. Got clued into it during the whole discussion about Austin moving to Orlando. Very much appreciate the coverage of lower level soccer in the USA.

    I’m a season ticket holder for both FCTB and OCSC, currently live in Orlando but grew up in Clearwater, spent many a day watching the Rowdies of the NASL of old. I much prefer the NASL , believe the quality is better than USL both the play and the officiating. If you are looking for live local pro soccer both leagues are in my opinion an enjoyable and affordable experience. Now with that said I do believe this is intentional by the USL to undermine FCTB & the NASL. While attending a pre-season event for the new Orlando USL team, after FCTB had announced they would be moving to Al Lang, Phil Rawlins (owner of OCSC) mockingly referred to FCTB as ‘FC St. Petersburg’. And the announcement of this ‘new international academy’ was quickly up on the OCSC website. It has been well established that there is bad blood between the movers & shakers of these leagues. But I don’t believe that any town can support 2 pro teams no matter where it is. It will be very interesting to see how this shakes out in the end.

  81. Bart permalink
    November 17, 2011

    And I thought I was the hated antagonist! Kook Aide can do that to you if you get real thirsty and don’t realize that water is just over yonder in the stream.

    As it relates to USL and the new Tampa venture, I think it may be viewed as having the cake and icing at the same time. USL gets to grow regionally, and they get the chance to get under Nestor’s skin. It gets pretty sweet under that view.

    Frankly, however, the USL headquarters are in Tampa, and USL needs a showcase for all their leagues in their backyard. If I were with USL, I would certainly want my business in Tampa.

  82. speedcake permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Grant, I’d really appreciate it if you bothered to actually read what I say before commenting on it. I didn’t once say I was welcoming of a second team in the area. What I said was that we FCTB loyal fans need to be very careful about attacking anyone who decides to give a new team a try.

    First you said I didn’t have anything to worry about, you wouldn’t do that, then you proceed to calling the first fan you see who suggest they might do that “a disgrace to the fan base”.

    From one ranter to another, you are really on it in a bad way here and are just coming across as a little nutty. I completely understand being angry at USLpro, being angry at FCTB (if you aren’t then honestly you are just deluding yourself), etc but if the fans in Tampa Bay let this further divide us then we aren’t likely to ever have a successful pro soccer team here.

    Fans are going to go see what this new team is about. I’ve been hearing from alot of FCTB fans who plan on it, most of them plan on supporting both teams, it isn’t your place to judge and condemn them. The best we can do is stick together as best we can and when the dust settles we’ll all still have no problem joining up and supporting whatever pro soccer we have.

    FCTB is NOT the Rowdies. I repeat, because apparently this isn’t getting through, FCTB is NOT the Rowdies.

    They are a simulation, an imitation, an incomplete and flawed product that has only been around for two seasons. They strive to be the Rowdies of old, but they have a long way to go. You coming in here and ranting and raving about how terrible fans are if they “jump ship” without ONCE criticizing the job FCTB has done isn’t useful to anyone.

    Go ahead and sit at home if the team folds and all that is left is a USLpro team. Your loss. That is pure pettiness.

  83. Stephen permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Grant has seen himself out, no use to continue posting about him.

    For the USL supporters that claim “USL is based in Tampa, it makes perfect sense!” Um, how long has USL been based in Tampa? Why wait till now to start up a team there?

    It’s clear this is a power play move and that’s all. The question is, how will Nestor respond to the challenge? He has one good year, with a team that’s been around two years (plus two years of build up) to try and make a statement (get the Rowdies name, be more aggresive with advertising, heck maybe even spend money on spiffing Al Lang).

    This new team doesn’t even have a name proposed yet. Why get in all this fuss so early?

    I’ll buy tickets for whoever has the highest level of competition in the area. And in 2013, that’s still going to be FCTB.

  84. November 17, 2011

    I haven’t heard anything, but is the USL-Pro team in San Antonio, the one run by the Spurs, also set for 2013?

    I agree that is does seem like the USL thinks both NASL teams won’t see 2013. Or at least will be very weakened. Neither market can support two teams.

  85. WSW permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Ok I did alot of thinking and the timing is disturbing: First where was USL when the Mutiny folded? How come they didn’t want a team in Tampa then? Second for me USL is one of the worst organizations they build hope in markets then they destroy the markets. To me it seems obvious they want to fracture the structure of FCTB because FCTB is the only threat to Orlando’s MLS bid. Third they probably will dismantle the team and move like they did in Austin, leaving Tampa with no pro team. Fourth after they go after FCTB they will probably put a team in Miami to try and dismantle FTL. Why don’t they have another pro team in Orlando hell they had 3 teams in Puerto Rico.

    The only person that saw thru all of this was Nestor that’s why they broke away from USL and now USL is out for vengeance.

  86. Bart permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @WSW

    Have you ever considered that Nestor is out for vengeance?

    Give me a break.

  87. Silly permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Thanks Steve for seeing what I was trying to say. I know that some have had bad history with academy affiliations, but if they were able to pull it off I think both teams could survive.

    WSW: The owner moved the team not the league.

    As for FCTB I believe if they fail it will be from their own doing.

  88. Danwolf permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Bart,
    How is this Nestor plan for revenge. Did he tell USL-Pro to put a team in Tampa so it could fail. All USL-Pro cares about is Expansion Fees.

    I bet you $100 dollars that if USSF actually had the balls to create new standards for D3 USL-Pro would drop to D4 and still call them selves the best ran league below MLS. USL ran away while NASL accepted the challenge and you vilify NASL and Traffic for Accepting this. Yet you are very rosy about VSI, who happen to do the same type of Business that Traffic does. I want soccer to grow in this country not fail. and i don’t think USL is here to help it grow when they are blinded by the chance to attack NASL.

    It’s time USL accept what it is and move on.

  89. Danwolf permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Just wrote an Email to the USSF expressing my Concerns. I doubt it would make any differences but I figured it wouldn’t hurt.

  90. WSW permalink
    November 17, 2011

    @Danwolf

    keep us updated

    @Bart

    USL already showed their true colors when they had lawsuits against the owners that broke away, forgot about that?

  91. Danwolf permalink
    November 17, 2011

    I asked for new standards for D3 and that if a deal can be worked out where potential MLS owners had to go through NASL first, possible help Ziggy Wilf buy the Stars, Blank buy the Silverbacks, and forcing Orlando and Rochester to put up or shut up about going to MLS. But a big part of what I wrote was that I felt while the NASL is trying to live up to the standards USSF has set out for D2 soccer, The USL continues to try cut off the NASL legs buy trying to put teams in NASL markets and by continuing to call themselves the best league behind MLS.

    I really hope for some feedback.

  92. speedcake permalink
    November 18, 2011

    The more I think about this the more depressing it becomes. While I’ve been the first to point out the failings of FCTB so far, and much of this new problem is on them, I also have increasing anger at USLpro for knowingly and willingly putting into motion a plan that potentially could ruin this whole soccer market for many more years to come.

    We’ve been through soccer hell in Tampa Bay and all fans want is ONE group of owners and ONE team that is built to stand the test of time. Why can’t we get that? WTF did we do to anyone?

    Is there a window of opportunity for another pro team? Absolutely! FCTB has left it wide open. Is it potentially smart of a serious outfit to come in and pick up the pieces, especially in Tampa, left behind by FCTB so far? Completely!

    I honestly hope that this new team happens and that they do what other operations have only promised (including MLS) and put their money where their mouth is. But more importantly I honestly hope they put their HEART into it.

    The worst case scenario is that USLpro’s main motivation for greasing this along is to down FCTB and the NASL, rather than doing what is good for the game itself. It is difficult to believe the league when after claiming to be doing things differently was forced to fold multiple teams last season and close a whole division. How is that in any way, shape or form good for the game and the fans?

    So worst case is that the league sees this as a great opportunity, and rightfully, to take out their only competitor to being the next best league after MLS. Who cares if the new USLpro team dies as well, right? As long as the NASL goes with it.

    So that is why I really, truly hope it isn’t the case. I hope that VisionPro has THEIR heart in the right place, even if USLpro does not, and intends to be serious and do right by fans. At least in that case, if FCTB doesn’t right it’s own ship, Tampa Bay will still have a pro soccer team. And one that doesn’t make the myriad of stupid mistakes we see from FCTB.

  93. Mike permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @WSW,

    The NASL filed a lawsuit against Rob Clark when he went back to the USL fold, forget about that?

    @Dan,

    I’m curious, did your comments to the USSF about D3 standards include whether or nor they have “the balls” to do it?

    That NASL kool-aid must be some potent swill. It made Grant go cuckoo for cocoa puffs, and now it’s prompting USL hate emails to the USSF telling them how to run their operation? Is it Bart’s turn again yet? He’s been handed plenty of ammunition for his retort, I’m looking forward to it.

  94. Bart permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @ Mike,

    I am not sure how to respond to your comments. I certainly understand the angst that the true FCTB fans have. If VSI is successful, and the market is not deep enough to support two teams, then it is likely that FCTB may fold, but that is also largely the fault of Nestor and his management team.

    If VSI also folds, then question most certainly would have to be asked of USL as to why a group of this nature failed in what should be a decent soccer market.

    As it relatest to VSI being like Traffic from business standpoint, you may be correct, BUT the BIG difference is that they own 1 team, as opposed to the whole league. If NASL had one team owned and funded by Traffic, with Traffic having no other funding or control of the league, then by default you have 8 individual owners operating in concert with each other. And that may be a good thing, but at the moment, it is a dream.

    @WSW and @Mike:

    Yes, USL filed a lawsuit to protect their business interests due to breaches of contracts by those they sued. NASL filed a lawsuit against Rochester for the same reason. Both groups wanted to protect their interests, which they felt had been violated. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    I am not looking for a survival of the fittest in the Tampa professional soccer market. It would be nice if both teams made it, as they are in different markets. However the fact remains that Nestor does not know how to manage, and the fact also remains that VSI is untested.

    Only time will tell.

  95. yankiboy permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @LISA: Tahnks a lot for sharing your take. What is it with you Central Florida types??? You are a dual season ticket holder, as well? And you are living in Orlando, travelling all the way to St. Pete??? Again, I really admire the dedication and the investment of resources. I also admire the stamina required to support to clubs that are seperated by an hour and a half.

  96. yankiboy permalink
    November 18, 2011

    “FCTB is the only threat to Orlando’s MLS bid.”
    -WSW

    Ok-I’m not trying to booked and shown a yellow but the above statement gave me some serious laughter this morning (which was really apppreciated because my commute stunk and my boss is working my last freaking nerve)

    “We’ve been through soccer hell in Tampa Bay and all fans want is ONE group of owners and ONE team that is built to stand the test of time. Why can’t we get that? WTF did we do to anyone?”
    -Speedcake

    Like I said–a prohpet without honor in his own land, Keep fighting the good and incredibly tiresome fight, Bro.

    “Just wrote an Email to the USSF expressing my Concerns. I doubt it would make any differences but I figured it wouldn’t hurt.”
    -Danwolf

    Hey, you did something to make your voice heard. Props on that.

    “I am not looking for a survival of the fittest in the Tampa professional soccer market. It would be nice if both teams made it, as they are in different markets. However the fact remains that Nestor does not know how to manage, and the fact also remains that VSI is untested.

    Only time will tell.”
    -Bart

    Enough already with the insightful, diplomatic and measured comments. You have a role to play around here. Don’t mess up the balance.

    Since you are slacking, I’m gonna say it:

    It’s gonna be survival of the fittest, alright. I’m not convinced that either group knows what it’s doing and I don’t think we will be talking about either one come 2015. Which is a LONG way off.

    Hopefully Divine Intervention sends speedcake, Lisa, Fiji, WSW, GS and all of the other Central Florida faihtful types a Tamper area miracle. If anybody “deserves” a team to support, I’d have to definitely put
    those names on the list.

  97. Lisa permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @Yankiboy – yes living in Orlando and traveling to St. Pete for FCTB games, so I find the whole driving from Tampa to St. Pete discussion humorous. Admittedly I don’t make all their games but I try to get to as many as I can. Also had the pleasure of catching both the NASL and USL championship final games (so yes a trip to Ft. Lauderdale to support the league).

    The Dark Clouds were rocking Lockhart. @ BQ can you explain for me the ‘Cold Beer, Hot Nuts’ chant please? Thanks

  98. yankiboy permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @LISA (I gotta use all CAPS to pay homage): Ft. Lauderdale, too–and you didn’t even have a horse in the race (again–thanks alot Mr. Vick )???

    OK. Are you some sort of USSF operative or sleeper agent placed in Flordia to observe and report back to Sunil about Florida pro soccer???

    Hey, if you are really a fed agent, you must have told them that the whole Boris, I think I George Steinbreener (RIP)-MajicJack thing was a debacle back in April.

    But I digress…

  99. WSW permalink
    November 18, 2011

    I will not support Miami FC in Tampa because that’s what it basically is and I could care less about the “manufactured” rivalry with Orlando. BTW what’s up with this cult like following for USL, I mean they bring teams into markets and then fold or move them. Say what you will against NASL no team folded this year.

    I just hope the IMBY crowd in Tampa really sees thru this smokescreen with USL, hell I put this up their with Glazer not buying Mutiny.

    FCTB hasn’t done enough what it should in the area, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    New slogan for USL coach in Tampa should be “Facts are for losers” 😉

  100. Silly permalink
    November 18, 2011

    Where is the USL cult you are speaking about? I think only a small few here (Myself included) have played a bit of devils advocate saying what ifs ect, but would not say we fall into a cult blindly following USL.

    I myself could not give a rats ass about the USL or NASL leagues themselves. I follow a team who plays a group of other teams. My allegiance (similar to Grant but not near as crazy) is to the team and not the leagues, because I personally think they are both flawed and have a mountain of work to do. I however am thankful that both USL and NASL exist so that each and every one of us has a chance to continue to support our team of choice.

    If our team plays in the USL it does not make us cult followers of USL, nor does it mean we approve of their actions.

  101. WSW permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @Silly Ok but why have two “minor league” pro teams in the same market?

    Tampa isn’t LA or NY.

  102. Danwolf permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @Bart

    Traffic is helping the league stay stable. They only want to own 1 club (Fort Lauderdale). I don’t see you going after Hunt Sports Group or AEG. Both owned more 3 or more teams at one point. Traffic is at least helping kept D2 Soccer alive until it stabilizes. But I guess you would prefer USL-not so pro. I can’t take USL seriously until they drop this “we are division 2 even though we dropped to D3 and we will do everything to help collapse any hope of REAL D2 soccer in this country”.

  103. Bart permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @WSW

    Why, you ask? Simple, these are competing businesses, not a duo of altruistic wannabees that just want to promote the goodness of the beautiful game to learning fans.

    It is about expanding into competitive markets and betting that your side will do better than the other. IT IS THE AMERICAN WAY……..

    The question is who does the third party fan bet on? Does one take their chances on a D2 league that is losing money at a rate equal to or better than the owners in WPS? Or do you bet on those USL hustlers, who have been around 30 years and have done more for elite soccer in this country than anyone else at the table, in spite of all the hate and anger leveled at them for being who they are?

    My theory is a little bit simpler, like a moth attracted to the bright light, the average fan will go where there is fun, action and entertainment. While this will intrude upon the sensibilities of the “Soccer Geeks” on this board, the fact of the matter is that after you get through the filtering of enjoying fun, action and entertainment, it will not matter if this is D2 or D3 soccer. This ain’t MLS, NFL, NHL or the NBA. This is minor league soccer. It does not even compare to minor league baseball.

    So let the team who has the best fun, action and entertainment win the marketshare. Much like the SuperBowl, the ads alone are worth watching what might be a boring event.

    Ouch………I hope that provides balance, yankiboy

  104. November 18, 2011

    @Danwolf, Are you so sure it’s Ft. Lauderdale? I’ve been hearing for a while now that’s the team that they are most likely to sell. If there is a suitor Traffic will sell. All conjecture at this point but I’m hearing it from more than one person.

    @WSW it’s called critical thinking. As Bart said if there is anything on this site it’s a whole lot of people that are super passionate about NASL and a few that won’t even consider an idea if it rocks their world in how they think the league or a team is run. I like that a few people try to keep a balance otherwise everyone just reinforces their own ideas and that’s never a good environment for learning. Welcome their comments and take them in. You get to decide if you want to swallow it or spit it out. Either way it doesn’t hurt anything and you’ve just tried something new. 🙂

    @Lisa One of the Dark Cloud faithful started bringing Cajun Creole Hot Nuts to the games quite a few years ago. Fresh, they are delicious but make sure you don’t get any of the skins in your eyes as most of us have done at one point or another. Because it hurts and your eyes will water. The “Hot Nuts’ were sort of funny and we all liked them as a snack so it stuck. Eventually it promoted the “Hot Nut’s” chant, the “Hot Nut’s” song and even a “Hot Nuts” flag created by the Super Rookie’s brother who’s an artist. Here’s a photo of the Super Rookie holding the hand sewn flag.

    I’m telling you, the Dark Clouds are hard core yet the nicest guys and gals you’ll ever want to meet and super creative. Beside that they are all pretty smart and witty. You can’t beat that with a stick – or a “Hot Nuts” flag.

  105. Danwolf permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @Brian,
    All I’m saying is that Traffic has done a lot of positive things in the past year for D2 soccer in this country that’s all. I know USL has done a lot but at the same time when it comes to D2 Soccer they have done alot to hurt it and even though not in D2 they are doing their best to continue to hurt D2. Is NASL perfect? No but at least they are trying to live up to the USSF standards.

    If USL-Pro Focuses on D3 with Regional Leagues and works with MLS and NASL then i will regain my respect for USL-Pro. As of right know i have no Respect for USL-pro.

  106. November 18, 2011

    Totally fair comment, Dan. I was just responding to; “BTW what’s up with this cult like following for USL.”

  107. Bart permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @Danwolf
    “All I’m saying is that Traffic has done a lot of positive things in the past year for D2 soccer in this country that’s all.”

    All Traffic has done is fund and retain complete control of the league. I don’t believe it is positive or negative, I do think that the group comprised of NASL owners had no choice. Individually, other than providing good steak knives to their customers, they cannot cut it on their own.

    “I know USL has done a lot but at the same time when it comes to D2 Soccer they have done alot to hurt it and even though not in D2 they are doing their best to continue to hurt D2.”

    And this is where we would have to disagree. There is no definitive proof that can be provided (at least that I can find) that would clearly demonstrate that USL is doing their best to “hurt” D2.

    “Is NASL perfect? No but at least they are trying to live up to the USSF standards.”

    NASL has no choice but to live up to the USSF standards, as the original TOA forced the new regulations and you end up sleeping in the bed you made. No kudos to NASL for this one.

    “If USL-Pro Focuses on D3 with Regional Leagues and works with MLS and NASL then i will regain my respect for USL-Pro.”

    It is apparent that USL is working with MLS, that has been published. USL is further demonstrating, whether you like it or not, that they are forming regionalized play through expanding to markets such as Tampa.

    Let Aaron Davidson be the first to wave the white flag of peace and ask for a planning meeting with USL executives. If that happens, which I seriously doubt, I would bet that USL would be the first to proffer a peace pipe, with that sweet smoke of compromise wafting through the air.

    As of right know i have no Respect for USL-pro.

    And that, Sir, is your right.

  108. yankiboy permalink
    November 18, 2011

    “If USL-Pro Focuses on D3 with Regional Leagues and works with MLS and NASL then i will regain my respect for USL-Pro. As of right know i have no Respect for USL-pro.”
    -WSW

    OK. We all have our personal criteria. Fiar enough. O must have missed where the NASL is so willing to work with USLPRO. I’m not just talking lip service.

    There’s bad blood. I don’t think that the NASL & USL execs are going to be going out to dine together at the next convention or even having drinks together.

    But hey…stranger things have happened.

    Maybe USL has gotten over the TOA/NASL stealing Crystal Palace Baltimore. Oh Yeah. Let’s not forget AC St. Louis.

    Bad blood, I tell you…

  109. Danwolf permalink
    November 18, 2011

    The Best way to deal with this NASL vs USL situation is to lock all the execs in a room and tell them to work it out or kill each other. Either way no one is allowed out until there is peace. Until someone comes up with a better plan, lets start collecting the execs.

  110. max permalink
    November 18, 2011

    I am baffled by all of this. Where are the division 3 standards? Is USL hoping to destroy the NASL so they can have sole control over minor league soccer? Is the US Soccer Federation happy to have division 2 standards and then let another league become the de facto division 2 because they don’t have to meet them? The NASL has had a successful season on the field, and off it no teams have folded midseason. As a fan I enjoy the NASL product, and hope that the US soccer federation has some sort of interest in creating a soccer pyramid, instead of just Major League Soccer, and then below that, the status quo that IMS readers are familiar with.

  111. yankiboy permalink
    November 18, 2011

    “Let Aaron Davidson be the first to wave the white flag of peace and ask for a planning meeting with USL executives. If that happens, which I seriously doubt, I would bet that USL would be the first to proffer a peace pipe, with that sweet smoke of compromise wafting through the air.”
    -Bart

    Ok. I’m calling you out on the USL peace pipe line. Around here, I have the exclusive, territorial rights to sell crazy (it’s written in my IMS contract).

    If you really believe that bit then please pass me the pipe that you are smoking so that I can take a nice, long toke.

  112. November 18, 2011

    @Bart, Wow! Yankee is calling you out hard today. Seems he’s feeling you are way to warm and fuzzy.

  113. yankiboy permalink
    November 18, 2011

    “…Tampa will have new professional and elite men’s and women’s amateur teams to support for years to come. Backed by some of the top names in world soccer, VisionPro Sports Institute will make a difference for Tampa soccer.”
    -Big Papa

    Gee, I’ve NEVER heard any sort of declaration like the one above before from USL brass (insert rolled eyes here).

    Just another random thought of mine:

    I would love to know if Eco is claiming this as a feather in his cap. Why is it that when stuff goes sour in the USL professional ranks, it seems like Tim Holt steps in front of the mike but when everythings is free ice cream sundays and balloons and bumper stickers, or financial viability is being discussed, it seems like Eco is leading the lecture, explaining how the league is going to help the clubs by lending coordinating and providing its economic expertise and (oooh) sharing “best practices”?

    Just curious…

  114. Silly permalink
    November 18, 2011

    WSW: I have no idea why two minor league teams in the same city. I wasn’t invited to the meeting. I also couldn’t tell you why Home Depot is always located across the street from Lowe’s.

    “If USL-Pro Focuses on D3 with Regional Leagues and works with MLS and NASL then i will regain my respect for USL-Pro. As of right know i have no Respect for USL-pro.”

    If they are going to work on regional leagues, they are the ones who have to determine which areas work best for them not US, NASL, or USSF. I think you should restructure your statement to state that you will have respect as long as their regions are not close to NASL teams. What is an acceptable distance?

  115. Bart permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @ yankiboy

    Well…..NO, I don’t actually believe the two sides will ever kiss and make up. NASL/TOA/Wellman/Davidson/Nestor/Saputo swore to destroy USL1, and frankly they accomplished that.

    USL has rebounded with USL Pro, an admittedly slick marketing campaign, but very effective in side-stepping the lofty trap the TOA members got locked into by forcing USSF to increase the standards due to the nit-picking fight between USL and TOA.

    Each group has their own burden to bear. NASL will have growth problems with the minimum standards and the excessive entry (one might call it a franchise) fee that is needed to reimburse the Traffic dollars. USL will have more teams, but can they do it effectively through smart planning on a regionalized basis instead of being all over the map as they have in the past.

    I am sure you know of the “good cop”/”bad cop” role playing. Eco is the fair haired good cop, louding proclaiming that all is righteous in the land that Marcos built. Holt has a different role, since Marcos is in the background, he has to take the hard line.

    As it relates to MY peace pipe, my lovely bride continues to use it as a beating stick for me when the whips wear out. I am sure you don’t want to smoke from that pipe now that you know where it has been…….

  116. Danwolf permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @Silly
    That’s why i add if you read further that USL has to learn to work with MLS and NASL. It seems that you only paid attention to the first part of my statement.

  117. Bart permalink
    November 18, 2011

    @ Danwolf

    Actually, it may very well be that NASL has to learn to work with USL, not the other way around. USL has the history, NASL does not.

    Let’s see how the flash in the pan du jour does over time. I think we all really know the answer to this, but don’t want to recognize it.

  118. Danwolf permalink
    November 18, 2011

    In 1996 MLS didn’t have any History and they are doing well now.

  119. WSW permalink
    November 18, 2011

    Yes USL has a flawed business plan at least NASL gives a market a year or two to prepare for expansion. How many teams did USL bring up to the pros from PDL ranks just to have more teams than NASL?

    NASL is trying to build stability, USL is I don’t know bring a team in for one year then fold or see what happens, how is that fun and entertaining for those fans in that market?

  120. James permalink
    November 19, 2011

    I have a question. I’m pretty new to all this, and was wondering; was there hate and animosity towards USL before the split and formation of NASL?

  121. speedcake permalink
    November 19, 2011

    Some of you guys can speak as glowingly of the USL as you want, but what they are doing is playing games with Tampa Bay soccer fans and risk giving our area another black mark.

    Sure it’d be great if this new team manages to prosper, regardless of whether or not FCTB does, a well run minor league team with staying power would be welcome. Only time will tell if VisionPro is capable of doing what they promise.

    But given the USL’s track record, and given the circumstances here (USL based in Tampa, bad blood between the leagues, Tampa Bay being a key NASL market) it is hard to see this move as anything other than vindictive and shady.

    Perhaps not so much on the part of VisionPro, I assume they just want a good situation and have to assume they are honest, but there shouldn’t be any doubt that USLpro brass are doing a jig right now. Like I said before, if a Tampa based team comes in and fails it doesn’t matter to them in the long run. As long as irreparable damage is done to FCTB and the NASL.

    They’ll just move along to the next market like they’ve always done, leaving devastated fans in their wake.

    I just don’t think soccer fans in Tampa Bay deserve these shenanigans and it really burns to have to sit here and hope that USLpro lives up to its promises for a change. Because if they don’t, and FCTB doesn’t sort itself out, we’ll be without pro soccer here again and USLpro would be perfectly fine with that.

    Which is why they can go jump in a lake.

  122. Soccer Boy permalink
    November 19, 2011

    This whole conversation is just way too much drama for me. it is what it is in the free market will decide if one or both teams survive.

  123. Footy76 permalink
    November 19, 2011

    For all those who are mad about this whole thing its sounds like the shoe is on the other foot. You should have seen this coming they are just repaying you back. I’m not taking side because you both have that right to feel how you feel, but putting a second team in Tampa is like taking teams from another league to start your own league. They are both dirty and risky move that could back fire and bring down soccer with it. This just sound just like other dirty moves made in this never ending fight between the two leagues. If they really had U.S soccer best interest the two leagues would stop fighting like little girls and join forces and resources. By them self they are both are weak but to together they would be stronger and can help the sport grow.

  124. WSW permalink
    November 19, 2011

    @footy

    They can’t join forces USL and NASL has different models of running a league. NASL wants to be D2 and adhere to the standards set by USSF.

    USL I don’t know that’s the question, do they have standards set for them? probably not.

    If USL really cared about the Tampa market since their hq’d here why didn’t they want a franchise after mutiny folded?

  125. Footy76 permalink
    November 19, 2011

    @James No hate and animosity but unhappiest with how the leaugue was run. The whole thing is a mess and the only way it look like this is going to end is by one of them taking the other out.
    It’s a sad thing for U.S soccer.

  126. DanB permalink
    November 19, 2011

    I really don’t see USL-Pro letting go of their Bitterness. NASL is trying to move forward but its like that annoying little kid that keeps on trying pull your chair from falling out. I think if USL-Pro keeps this up they will be responsible for what ever ugliness happens from all this.

    From 2011 on NASL has a better track record then USL-Pro. NASL has no teams that folded and USL-Pro had 3 teams fold in mid season. I would say NASL had a successful 1st year compared to USL-Pro. And Yes i am comparing in 1 year because this is the first year that both leagues have gone under their current banner. 2010 was under USSF so it really doesn’t Count.

  127. DanB permalink
    November 19, 2011

    Actually the only way it ends for the better is if USSF actually does something about it. One of the reasons that nothing is done about it is because of Marcos is on the board. What we need is someone form NASL on that board to represent the NASL or get rid of Marcos.

  128. Footy76 permalink
    November 19, 2011

    @WSW
    True USL don’t care about Tampa. But this situation between the two leagues can only end two ways.
    1. The USL is going to join NASL because there is no were to go because their league folds or NASL is going to join USL because they have folded and their now were else to go
    2. Or low division U.S soccer is going to be in a worst place then it is now.
    It looks like they have a set mind to destroy each other. If they put their deferens aside and work together it would be better than going down this destructive path were no one really wins and the loser is U.S soccer. It’s better to have half a pie then to have none and eventually they will join together because one will destroy the other. Do you really want to risk being the loosing side?

  129. Bart permalink
    November 19, 2011

    @ Footy76

    Your hypothesis is flawed. Neither NASL nor USL have to join forces. NASL broke from USL because originally, with Wellman at the helm, they want to be more like MLS. Now that Traffic has the reins, they want costs down, much to the extent that USL has in their business plan, but they will not admit it.

    This constant prayer to that deity one calls NASL is much like the Israelites worshing the gold cow in the desert after Moses led them from Egypt. It is neither real, nor does it wield any power. It is just an idol.

    Go ahead and dance if you like, but it does not mean that manna will fall from heaven as is needed to gain nourishment.

  130. DanB permalink
    November 19, 2011

    Bart are you saying that You can dance if you want to. You can leave your friends behind. Because if your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance then they are no friends of mine. We can Dance, We dance, Come on everyone lets all give it a chance.

  131. WSW permalink
    November 20, 2011

    @Bart

    Wow you really don’t see a difference between USL-Pro and NASL? Why does USL-Pro even have teams like Dayton,LA Blues, FCNY, and many other PDL quality teams.

    Once I saw the international division with 3 teams in PR, Antiqua and LA in same group, I thought wow they want to cut on travel costs….Really?????

  132. jspech permalink
    November 20, 2011

    Sad this whole situation is. How great if they work together? I don’t like pro/reg for MLS but is these two would work it out it can work in D2, D3, giving lower level soccer something to market around. I m from NYC. If you ask someone about FCNY, they may think it’s an infection. There is no my way or highway in sports.

    Keep knocking the foot out from each other and the only way will be the fan’s way. All they way out the door.
    if D2 in 2 yrs works out their kinks, really what’s going to keep the more successful D3 teams from jumping ship? One has to realize that as MLS becomes more and more profitable, and expansion is less of an option, $$ can see options in smaller markets with 5-10thous SSS, wish league will be that 5-10sss league?

    USLpro is scary. I would be more apt to invest in NASL. USLpro or the people who runs it hs been at it for awhile. They haven’t emerge, wht are doing different now?
    NASL seems a bit different but tht’s just me

  133. Bart permalink
    November 20, 2011

    @WSW

    I see a lot of differences between NASL and USL, and I especially see a lot of difference between USL of 2008 and the current USL, since the sale of this entity from Nike to NuRock.

    Most of the gold cow worshipers on this board fall a blind eye on the fact that a lot of the
    mis-deeds that occured during the Nike ownership of USL has been replaced with a lot more structure, discipline and execution.

    Granted, the LA team in USL Pro’s first season does not seem logical, but look at it from the LA owner’s perspective. They knew the costs would be initially higher as the regional market starts to get filled in, so what should they do? Just stop? It is their money.

    Dayton is backed by a Dutch constituency that has deep pro soccer backgrounds and they know how to put a team together. They, like the other folks on the menu, need time to build the base.

    Is there really a difference between D2 and D3? Again, this question needs to be asked from each participant’s perspective and rationale. To the soccer geeks of the world, of course there is a difference, D2 must be better than D3, that is the hierarchy of the system. To the average fan, and that average fan is the one who will be the success of a team, the difference will be how the entertainment/sizzle and excitement during the show takes place. It will not be what happens on the field.

    To those soccer economists, who follow the growth of soccer at the different levels of play, it boils down to the logistical analysis of each group’s business model. How is penetration being effected? What are the sales and expense matrixes? What are the goals for the next 5 years.

    Everyone here applauds the fact that TOA/NASL have to operate under a much more austere set of requirements than USL Pro. The shortsighted mantra is that because they have not lost a team during their INAUGURAL season, it is the way to go. Everyone overlooks the fact that the cash losses incurred by these teams have not gone away, and at some point, several of these teams will go by the wayside, as the model encourages more travel costs, not lower ones.

    The question here is replenishment of the attrition, in other words, how easy will it be to replace an ultimately failed team with a new one, one that fits the very restrictive requirements of the USSF D2 regulations. Even more importantly, how will these requirements allow D2 to grow as is needed to penetrate the markets and gain fan recognition? On top of all this, Traffic has to divest itself of several teams, and that would include the “under the table” funding of several other teams, including the new incoming San Antonio? Bottom line, the added difficulty in attracting other financially secure groups to open up NASL teams has vastly been diminished.

    You wrap all of these ingredients up, put it in the fiery oven and melt it down, you can then pour this all into a model cast that will end up being a shiny gold cow, which the false god cow worshippers will dance around to and chant, “hail, hail, hail”.

    Even Moses had to go back up the mountain to get a new set of stone commandments after the cheating Israelites were exposed.

  134. DanB permalink
    November 20, 2011

    When has it been said that Traffic has invested in San Antonio. It is my understanding that the Scorpions are owned by Gordon Hartman. Hartman is the Investor.

    Brian, is Bart’s statement about the Scorpions being heavily being invested by Traffic True?

  135. WSW permalink
    November 20, 2011

    @Bart MLS back in the day couple of owners owned multiple teams and look at them today.
    So i will take that route with NASL.

    @jspech yes USLpro is a scary…and I hope they get the hell out of Tampa.

  136. Bart permalink
    November 20, 2011

    @ DanB

    I did not say that Hartman’s team are being heavily invested by Traffic. Take care to read what was actually said.

    @WSW

    What MLS did 16 years ago is not the same as what is happening with NASL, and far more importantly, it does not matter. The bigger issue is replenishment of the natural attrition.

  137. DanB permalink
    November 20, 2011

    “On top of all this, Traffic has to divest itself of several teams, and that would include the “under the table” funding of several other teams, including the new incoming San Antonio?”

    Isn’t this what you typed.

  138. Mike permalink
    November 20, 2011

    This thread just keeps getting more comical and bizarre at the same time.

    @DanB,

    Your reading comprehension skills are somewhat lacking. Go back and read what your own post and compare it to what Bart posted. You’re drawing imaginary conclusions.

    @Bart,

    Your astute use of logical business sense notwithstanding, you should know better than to stir the pot by implying such things about the business practices of Traffic. The NASL fanboys will get mad and report you to the teacher. The biblical reference was a nice touch though.

    Besides, only they are allowed to make such speculative accusations. Like the aforementioned “USLpro is a scary”. Whatever that means. I suppose it’s an improvement over seeing “USL sucks” for the 173rd time.

  139. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 20, 2011

    I miss Grant.

  140. DanB permalink
    November 20, 2011

    USL is a mess.

  141. DanB permalink
    November 20, 2011

    USL smells.

  142. Ski Dawg permalink
    November 20, 2011

    @WSW Regarding MLS owners owning multiple teams: AEG still owns both LA Galaxy and half of Houston Dynamo, and Clark Hunt still owns both Columbus Crew and FC Dallas.

    And to all the NASL bashers, I ask this: when is USSF going to force AEG to sell the rest of their stake in Houston Dynamo or force Hunt to sell off one of his teams?

  143. Jspech permalink
    November 21, 2011

    Uslpro from a growth potential is scary. One must not rile so loud about one owner multi-team ownership. After all the D1 champion cup. Now that’s shocking . If onvest in Nasl now w/8teams growth potential there w/expansion . Really some Mls team r building SSS under$100mil. What would it cost for a 5-10,000 or 5-7000 seat see. Really how many uslpro owner have $$$ for such an investment. San Antonio stadium will show the way. The e pansion team in canada will sss. How will uslpro grow. So many owner who cannot put up D2 $

  144. November 21, 2011

    @Ski Dawg – Don’t drag MLS into this minor league mess. Bringing up AEG and the Hunts, people who saved soccer in this country, is foolish. Bart is right when he says MLS should never be brought up with the NASL. Let us just be happy one league in this country is doing well. The USSF leaves MLS alone because it is D1 and working. Unlike the crap below it.

    This thread is a sad indictment on why there is such a mess in the lower divisions. Look at the way the fans act. The usual construction discussion has been replaced with “USL sucks!” A pox on us all.

  145. Strikers Return permalink
    November 21, 2011

    There are quite a few USL backers that post here who habitually like to point at some of the NASL backers and say, you’re just deluding yourselves, or stop drinking the kool-aid. Meanwhile, those same people seem oblivious to what is painfully obvious – it’s no coincidence whatsoever that USL went all in trying to get in bed with someone who was willing to try putting a team in a market where NASL already exists. The league office is there some say while ignoring all the other circumstances. That’s BS. All this time they haven’t tried before? Seems more than a bit “convenient” that it happens now while they constantly remind us with their “the best pro soccer league below MLS” crap fills our ears. How else are they going to fulfill this mantra without the NASL collapsing?

    People can say all they want that they see little or no difference between the level of play at the D2 and D3 levels. Anyone who does either hasn’t watched enough soccer in their life, or is deluding themselves. Anyone want to question BQ’s credibility? He says himself there is a noticable difference. Outside of Orlando who could easily jump to D2 right now if they were so inclined, there is definitely a drop off. Rochester finished with the second best record for the season right? Anyone who watched any of their games really think they’re right with Orlando or the D2 teams? Sure Atlanta sucked, but I’d still take them on a neutral field over the Rhinos. As time goes on, IF, HUGE IF, NASL D2 survives, this gap will only widen.

    Back to Tampa. Has USL publicly said anything about any ACTUAL expansion teams in the last year outside of announcing this Tampa team? There was a vague reference awhile back about “an east coast team” for next year right? Otherwise what have we heard? Obviously I don’t scour the news pages every day for info about the USL, but I don’t recall anything….except to toss out that they still want a team in San Antonio, and even that they were looking to put a team in Ft. Lauderdale. Come on people. Is anyone REALLY dumb enough to not be able to connect the dots? San Antonio, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa….. As a number of people have pointed out, even going back to last year’s AGM press release where they spent a solid portion of it talking about those FTL and SA possibilities, it’s real easy to see the plan. Try and foil just one NASL team, and by proxy you take down the entire league. Then the unending mantra just becomes correct purely by default….the best run league under MLS…….pretty easy to say if there are no other leagues…..

    Look, I’ve no love for the still-not-Rowdies or their fans. I’ll admit some of the talk from Ralph’s Mob members about being open to this new team and abandoning FCTB does surprise me. From what I’ve seen over the years, supporters groups do a lot of complaining, some of it legit, some seems like excessive whining. I don’t live in Tampa so I don’t know the specifics about how their operation is run. I do know that until this past year, Miami FC was a joke, and I can’t imagine anyone running their club worse from all perspectives. But this year Traffic stepped up in a big way in bringing back the Strikers, and the fans responded. I think they are heading in the right direction now with Tim Robbie at the helm, and I fully suspect that Traffic’s efforts are going to pay off in the form of someone coming in and buying the team from them. Still waiting for more from BQ on this! LOL But I see Nestor with the exact same scenario in front of him now. He HAS to get that Rowdies name back, and he has to take the risk of doing the same kind of work getting the word out there in the Tampa/St. Pete area leading up to next season that the Rowdies playing in the NASL is where pro soccer fans in the Bay area need to be. I think the potential for the same kind of turnaround exists for the Rowdies as has been the case for the Strikers.

  146. Ski Dawg permalink
    November 21, 2011

    @KT I think it’s fair to bring MLS into this conversation. My point is that if people want to complain about one entity owning multiple teams in one league, they have to be consistent and demand the same of MLS. My original point still stands: be consistent with your arguments. If Traffic Group must sell, so must AEG and Hunt. Period.

  147. November 21, 2011

    I just wanted to drop by and say: you guys have no idea how badly I want to see a Tampa derby in the US Open Cup two years from now.

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