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Discussion in 'United Soccer Leagues' started by thomas19064, Mar 30, 2017.
Gotta keep the rubes.. err fans coming through the turnstiles.
The irony is, unless there's a massive amount of clubs coming in, via expansion or League Two, those budgets aren't going to be saved if your travel costs are still high. You'll need plenty of teams nearby to justify a limited travel budget, like I've seen in the ECHL (apples and oranges, but it's why you don't see Utah playing Newfoundland twice a year).
After all, as of the club placement, only one team is west of the Mississippi (with one in talks), and while the map benefits three particular regions (the Southeast, the Northeast, and the Midwest), going to Tucson and only Tucson is a financial eater. You know... hadn't Brigham Young decided to call it a day with their PDL squad, they likely would have been courted as a novelty factor
It will be a couple of years before League One fills out, but until that time you are right that travel will be a killer for teams.
Tucson is owned by Phoenix so I suspect that their costs will be eaten by the parent club. The clubs from east will have nasty expenses for trips to Tucson though.
I suspect it will be short seasons to start just to keep travel expenses in control.
I am looking forward to seeing League One grow and watching the process. I am wondering how many "2" squads will self relegate in the next couple of years.
ECHL is a good comparison. Hockey is still a niche sport, like soccer. Structurally, ECHL and League One are in the same spot (roughly AA in baseball). It's a long hike to the top league and budgets are definitely smaller.
Reserve squads like TFC II and Orlando City B were no-brainers; the academies were garbage and nobody wanted to see rank amateurs bumbling around a 4 win season. Then you get to more "successful" reserve teams that can be demoted, such as Sounders FC 2 and Red Bulls II, and I use the term "successful" in relative terms; Sounders FC 2 actually draws in a crowd, while Red Bulls II actually is competing... but have the second-worst attendance figures in USL, barely beating out Toronto FC II. Unless the idea of spinning off Sounders FC 2 into a unique Tacoma club does happen, they might be put into League One, and even if they do become a Tacoma club, that could still happen.
The only reserve teams that I feel will be staying in the Championship right now (as in true reserve teams, not affiliates) are Bethlehem Steel, Real Monarchs, Portland Timbers 2, and Atlanta United 2. This is assuming that the MLS clubs don't abandon these projects entirely.
I've also found it interesting to see why Championship teams decided to self-relegate to League One, and I came up with a little table, showcasing my views.
Rochester Rhinos simply couldn't afford D2 standards anymore, so they not only took a year off from the Championship, but will take ANOTHER year off in League One with the hopes that more clubs will appear around them to ease the burden of travel finances.
Toronto FC II was simply hot garbage. Like, shit so shitty flies wouldn't want to be near them. Toronto FC decided to just dump the team to a lower rank in the hopes of them actually looking competent more than 5 times a year.
Orlando City B is same as Toronto FC II, except they took a year off for restructuring due to what an embarrassment the program is (not like the parent club was any better), in spite of having more success on the pitch than their Canadian counterparts. Lower rank means the reserve team could look more competitive.
Richmond Kickers haven't fielded a competitive squad since 2016, and given how Toronto FC II was at the bottom of the league table by default, Richmond looked better on a technicality. I feel like ownership of this team decided to look into an exit strategy as while attendance has remained consistent, the quality has plummeted as they have looked for more and more ways to cut costs. While Rochester couldn't pay for the league operations anymore, and the two MLS reserve teams got demoted out of embarrassment, Richmond feels like the first team that looked at League One as a means to make the most profit with the least amount of effort, and I find that disgusting.
Penn FC, fka Harrisburg City Islanders, is no better than Richmond in this case. Although they argue that their field may not be suitable, I honestly doubt that they will be building anything away from the Island and of the current five, I can see them becoming the new Austin Aztex, in which they keep blaming technicalities for their misfortune, but disappear with nary a tear shed as someone else will come along and do central Pennsylvania right once again.
Honestly, the League Two promotions just don't have that "oomph!" as to these relegations. Des Moines going up a rank is largely due to them being so dominant in the PDL that it was time to see them take on more suited competition for their standards. I'm more interested in the demotions because they mostly symbolize failure.
And that goes back to my hope that before the opening pitch next spring, the league will likely have swollen up a bit, likely with League Two promotions. I already mentioned Des Moines, which should be a no-brainer, but other contenders that the league might want to see if they could try would be the Michigan Bucks, Mississippi Brilla, San Francisco Glens, and former USL teams Dayton Dutch Lions and Charlotte Eagles. I would have suggested Wilmington, but that went kaput. Establishing some geographical input could help adjust schedules, as I likely expect League One clubs to play somewhere between 22-26 games, compared to the Championship's 34 and League Two's 14.
There has been a lot of unpublished talk that a stadium plan was part of Krause Gentle's relocation to downtown Des Moines from the company's long time home in suburban West Des Moines (yes, it is a completely different town). KG is the parent company of Kum & Go and is owned by the Menace's owner. The Menace offices are in the company's current HQ. Also noteworthy, the new KG corporate location is just a mile or two from Wells Fargo Arena (home to our AHL, GLeague, & IFL teams) and Principal Park (our AAA baseball stadium). There are some sizable plots in the same general area that have recently become open for development due to infrastructure changes. I'm just surprised that an announcement hasn't been made yet.
TFCII has pretty much been made academy graduates with a few draft picks and others sprinkled in. It has been a very young team playing against men. As TFC season seat holder I can tell you MLSE put very little effort if any into the business aspect of the team. TFC season ticket holders were given free USL tickets this year of which only a few if any took them up on it as evidence in the attendance. I only attended a few as it was not fun especially at BMO field with only a 100 or so in the stands. The average attendance of 810 was even skewed by a few games that were played in Rochester and a school day that drew over 4,000 kids. At the end of the day it is what it is, especially with the CPL launching where we will have two area teams in Hamilton and York. At the D3 level TFC2 will be playing in a 1,500 seat stadium on their training ground.
Does anyone see an MLS team that has its reserve team at the D3 level also have an affiliate at the D2 level ie USL Championship?
Possibly, but they serve fairly different purposes, I think. As I understand it, affiliation is just an exclusive loan arrangement, so you won't have access to the player for at least half the season. This is only really useful in a scenario like you have a promising academy graduate in a position you are currently stacked in. It's not clear how often this would happen to justify a formal affiliation.
The reserve teams give you much more roster flexibility for guys coming off of injury or are stuck on the bench. E.g. Atlanta can keep Andrew Carleton in their gameday 18, but also give him starts on Wednesday home Twonited games. I figure the MLS teams would prefer to have most of the reserve team's home games midweek, so they can get their gameday bench the most reps.
None yet have indicated that. We will have to wait and see it happens.
Interesting proposition, but I don't know if it'll happen. Most MLS clubs likely would have just one affiliate, and a few next year might still not have one.
Honestly, I'm a Dynamo supporter in MLS, so I tend to look more at RGV Toros over the others and see the developmental squads at face value in general.
USL-League One just made Lansing official for 2019. The name is Lansing Ignite. It looks like the colors are red, gold, and blue.
That makes 9 teams officially in for 2019.
Orlando City B
Toronto FC II
With the addition of FC Dallas's reserve team USL League One stands at 10 teams for their inaugural 2019 season. At this point the only additions I could still see would be some MLS2 teams moving down.
If I'm not mistaken, this is the last USL1 team that will be announced for 2019.
They announced their structure: 28 games -- each team will play 8 opponents 3 times and 1 opponent 4 times.
Any other announcements will be for 2020-beyond.
This is correct.
The Madison League One team name and logo have been announced.
Forward Madison FC with a pink flamingo. The "DCVIII" at the bottom is 608, the Madison area code.
The USL-League One schedule for 2019 has been released:
The regular season will run March 29 through October 5 with each team playing 28 games.
The top 4 teams will advance to a single-elimination playoff ending with a championship game October 17-21.
Home team first, times are ET
Friday, March 29
South Georgia Tormenta v. Greenville Triumph 7:00 pm
Saturday, March 30
Richmond Kickers v. Lansing Ignite 5:00 pm
North Texas v. Chattanooga Red Wolves 7:00 pm
Orlando City B v. Tucson 7:30 pm
Toronto II will get started on April 5 and Madison Forward on April 6.
Opening weekend crowds:
Friday, March 29
Greenville at South Georgia (3,519 - sellout)
Saturday, March 30
Lansing at Richmond (5,936)
Chattanooga at North Texas (They're not tellin')
Orlando City B v. Tucson at Orlando (305)
According to https://soccerstadiumdigest.com/2019-usl-league-one-attendance/ 2,119, but who knows.
Would have looked really empty in Toyota Stadium, I reckon.
What I'm going to get out of this is simple; we're going to see some decent crowds if you're not a reserve team.
But if you're a reserve team, attendance is going to be the pits.
I'm not sure we're ready to pop open the bubbly after the first weekend for these teams, since I would at least hope there would be an effort to pack the house to open their inaugural pro seasons (Richmond excluded).
If these numbers remain consistent into June/July (or if not, rebound in the fall -- they've got some college towns, after all), then I think you can fairly unequivocally call this a success.
If North Texas got 2,119, that ain't the pits.
Most reserve teams - for the millionth time - don't exist to make you feel better about the optics
It actually WAS at Toyota Stadium