Home NASL & USL More NASL & USL USL-PRO silent on status of Canadian MLS teams’ bids for affiliates

USL-PRO silent on status of Canadian MLS teams’ bids for affiliates


The deadline to apply for a new USL-PRO franchise fell on Sept. 15.

A day later, the USL brass won’t say much about which MLS teams will have new affiliate teams in place for the 2015 season. That includes the three Canadian MLS sides.

In 2013, USL forged an to become the developmental league for MLS. In 2014, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact confirmed their wishes to have USL affiliates for the 2015 season. Toronto FC has been rumoured to also be looking at having a direct affiliate in 2015, after failing in an earlier bid to secure an affiliate team in Hamilton.

But, when asked about who could be in and who could be out, USL President Tim Holt said Tuesday that the process of adding teams is still ongoing.

“USL PRO remains in the process of determining the roster of teams for the 2015 season, including any additional expansion teams. This includes several MLS clubs evaluating the opportunity to launch a USL PRO franchise. Any such official announcements will occur once agreements have been finalized.”

This grey area looks to give the Whitecaps the wiggle room they need to find a new home for their USL affiliate. On Monday, New Westminster’s city council voted unanimously to reject a plan that would have seen millions of civic dollars poured in to a plan to revamp Queen’s Park for a Whitecaps-affiliated USL-PRO franchise. But, after the no vote, the Whitecaps pledged to go forward with plans for a USL-PRO affiliate in another community.

The Canadian Soccer Association has given the three MLS teams under its jurisdiction the provisional go-ahead to have USL-PRO affiliates. In an August meeting, the CSA board agreed to sanction USL-PRO teams, with some very strict conditions attached.

Here is the exact wording from the CSA:

At a regularly planned meeting in August 2014, the Canadian Soccer Association Board of Directors approved the sanctioning of USL Pro but only applicable for reserve teams of existing Canadian MLS franchises.
• The sanctioning will be subject to conditions that are consistent with the Canada Soccer Pathway efforts towards a unified player development system:
• A minimum of 50% of the active USL Pro roster must consist of Canadians eligible for Canada’s National Teams programming;
• A minimum of six (6) Canadians eligible for Canada’s National Teams programming must be named to the starting XI (exceptions will be considered in case of injuries and international duties absences).
• The sanctioning will be reviewed on an annual basis

USL-PRO is the only fully professional North American league that fully recognizes Canadians as domestic players. NASL and MLS only recognize Canadians as domestics if they play on Canadian teams. In USL-PRO, there is no distinction made; Canadians are domestic players across the board.

USL-PRO is recognized in Canada and the United States as the third division, behind MLS (1) and NASL (2).

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  1. Bishipville Red

    September 16, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    If USL-Pro is truly an MLS Partner, this is a no brainer. TFC had to pull prospects back over the border to avoid transfer window issues in August. This stunts development of the player and seriously restricts flexibility for the club. Canadian franchises should have been rubber stamped, like, yesterday.

  2. Kahkakew Yawassanay

    September 16, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Would love to see the NASL put a team in either Victoria, Burnaby or Abbotsford….the USL Pro is nothing more than a reserve league for MLS in their attempt to stagnate growth of all competition

    • Fhurion

      September 17, 2014 at 1:27 am

      How do you figure USL Pro stagnates growth? I’d argue quite the opposite, as it’s given valuable minutes already to young players across the league in a relatively high level, professional competition where teams are looking to win. That’s a far cry from the backwater that was the MLS Reserve League that played a hodge-podge schedule and had very limited competitive drive behind it.

      I’m fully with you that the NASL should expand to markets, including more in Canada, that the MLS will never appear in. If anything, I’d like to see more integration between the 3 top tiers, so that the best performing clubs in USL Pro, say like Sacramento (if they don’t get an MLS expansion slot), move up a level to NASL. Conversely, if a club in NASL struggles, it could choose to drop down to USL Pro. We could have voluntary promotion/relegation between the 3 leagues and it would strengthen the whole pyramid, rather than the boom/bust cycle we’ve had for decades where new clubs are founded, last a few years, then disappear.

      To take it a step even further, you could integrate/assist the amateur level (PDL, NPSL, League1 Ont. etc.), so that successful and established clubs could have a pathway to go pro, much like the Austin Aztex have done with their launch of a USL Pro side for next season, up from the PDL.

      • Kahkakew larocque

        September 17, 2014 at 4:42 am

        USL Pro will take players away from NASL clubs as they will chose the lower league for the remote possibility to graduate to MLS clubs. the limited number of players who are at the level required to play in the NASL is already limited as most immigrant North Americans will not make the starting 11 in NASL. USL Pro and MLS academies will not develop players at the level to play in the higher two leagues and a relationship with NASL needs to be made allowing players with potential to develop in a pro situation like nASL

        • bishopvillered

          September 17, 2014 at 10:50 am

          This is highly unlikely. The only player who will follow that route is one who is already affiliated with an MLS side. Other than that, maybe the guys who will play more or actually make more money in USL Pro. That’s a rare specimen.

          For any other player, they’ll chase the money and go where they’ll be best compensated. NASL already proves this, with rosters littered with guys who could make an MLS side but make more money as the big fish in a smaller pond than the small fish on an MLS roster.

          Besides, for a player not connected to an MLS team, how does choosing league three instead of league two prove you’re a good candidate for league one?

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