Should USL have promotion/relegation

Discussion in 'USA Men' started by Eleven Bravo, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I know, I said the dirty word, “promotion/relegation.” But let me be clear, I am not speaking about allowing promotion/relegation within MLS, but simply between USL League One and USL Championship.

    From a US soccer perspective, it seems like many of the second teams tend to get blown away in the Championship. For instance, Atlanta United 2 haven’t won a game since April. So, I don’t see how that’s good for any player’s development to lose all the damn time like that. Meanwhile, North Texas United are killing it in League One. It seems like maybe they could compete right now in the Championship.

    I believe it’s a good thing for every MLS team to field a reserve team in the USL, with also their own DA through the age groups. This way players gradually get brought up through the system and before they’re ready for MLS, give them a chance with the reserves.

    Also, there has been an abundance of expansion teams in the Championship. So, some of those teams could drop down and help stabilize League One.

    And, the issues, in my opinion, are less pronounced in the lower leagues with promotion/relegation with MLS. For instance, there’s a lot more difference in the money invested between MLS and Championship than Championship and League One. Especially, adding in Tv rights and so forth. Thus, I don’t see a team that’s relegated from the Championship to League One worrying as much about collapse as with the drop from MLS to USL.

    Lastly, I get trying to be cute with the Championship and League One, but it’s confusing as hell in America. Can we just call it USL1 and USL2. And let “League Two” just go back to being the PDL.
  2. gogorath

    gogorath Member+

    United States
    May 12, 2019
    Honestly, I think what is occurring, and what's best for USL right now, is for teams to pick their own level.

    I don't think there's a ton of need for a mechanism for a team to rise up ... because if a team wants to be a USL-C team, they can. Most of them right now are choosing the level they are in based on the level of competition and investment they want.

    This isn't a case of a bunch of teams wanting to be USL-C and having decide who makes it. It's literally a case of teams saying "no, I think we're more USL1, we'll go there."
    PANDEMONEUM, Elninho and jaykoz3 repped this.
  3. An Unpaved Road

    An Unpaved Road Member+

    Mar 22, 2006
    I think they had something similar like that in past so it wouldn't really fit the point of a rebrand. I'm not big on copying the names from England but I see why they did it. League One sounds important and the Championship sounds even more important. Also the names allow for easy transition to pro/rel in the future and even a USL Premier League should a day come when that makes sense to attempt.
  4. Baysider

    Baysider Member+

    Jul 16, 2004
    Santa Monica
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    I agree, I think there is a lot of sorting out still to be done. Pro/Rel tends to work well when everyone knows their place; big-spending teams at the top, low-spending teams at the bottom, and a middle class that moves back and forth between leagues.

    I don't think any USL team has decided to be a big spending team, although I could certainly see natural candidates. Once that happens and they start beating up on the small teams, I expect an appreciable number of teams to self relegate.
    2in10 repped this.
  5. Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Member+

    Dec 23, 2003
    Somerville, MA
    FC Dallas
    Yeah................there's competing agendas in the USL right now.
    There are the independent teams like Louisville, Tampa Bay, Indy XI, Phoenix, etc. that are really trying to win the league with adult professionals. Then there are the MLS reserve teams that aren't actually trying to win. Their primary purpose is to develop youngsters. So these teams are often fielding squads with a lot of teenagers.

    I actually expect a lot of these MLS reserve teams to drop down a level to USL League One, where Dallas, Toronto, and Orlando already reside.
    bigredfutbol repped this.
  6. Chicago76

    Chicago76 Member+

    Jun 9, 2002
    What you’re suggesting is the likely solution.

    Not in favor of pro/rel, but if they wanted something similar with a few more teams in USL Champ and League 1 with better geographic balance, a split table thing might work:

    Something like 48 teams in 4 divisions. Each division with roughly the same number of USL Champ pro, USL 1 pro and MLS reserve sides. First 22 matches home/away vs your 11 division opponents for a regional shield/bragging rights.

    Top 6 in each division then compete for USL Champ. Bottom 6 in each division to USL League 1. 12 more matches vs another division’s top 6 home/away. Add that to the results from the top 6 home/away results in your division round and you have a “conference” table in 34 matches. Same exact thing for the other two top 6 divisions in the other “conference”. Same approach with all 4 “bottom 6” division groups to USL 1.

    This would cut down on travel and encourage local rivalries while allowing teams to play within their ambitions. An Indy 11 would be “promoted” every year at mid season from open division to USL Champ. And a Swope Park would be “relegated” every year from open division to USL League 1 at mid season.

    The Tampa Bay Rowdies shouldn’t need to go all the way up to Hartford to play a bottom dwelling USL Champ side (and vice versa) on a USL budget. It doesn’t make sense.
    ChicagoVT and Eleven Bravo repped this.
  7. coachd24

    coachd24 Member

    Feb 22, 2013
    RC Lens
    I like that idea a lot and also like how the Academies do it. They play locally during the season and at the end they have a "Champions League". It'll promote "winning the region" first and then proving yourself at the next level. In terms of player development, more $$ can be used on that instead of travel and may also encourage youth players to join a lower academy in hopes of getting first team minutes in the league where you'll be playing against professional players.

    I don't think Promotion/Relegation would change much in the USL as compared to Europe. Most of the USL fanbase won't know/care about the difference between your team playing Hartford or the Boston Bolts as opposed to in England where there is 100+ years of club history and reputations.
    Chicago76 repped this.
  8. Chicago76

    Chicago76 Member+

    Jun 9, 2002
    The only reason they’d care is if (hopefully when) the upper division begins to fill out, develop regional rivalries, and separate itself financially. Then you’re selling a package that’s different than, “Come support your local team.”

    Given the country’s size and the relative scarcity of clubs, I do think the better solution is to go w something inspired by college sports conferences to deepen the rivalry aspects in a split season format.

    It works for a much expanded MLS too. If you had 36 clubs in 4 divisions:

    -play everyone in your division home/away to start season. 16 matches. Rivalries everywhere and a lot of emphasis early, because of the next step

    -split each division into top, middle, bottom third at conclusion of 16 matches.

    A) top third carry division results vs top 3s into a unified 12 team table. 18 more matches s 9 clubs to complete that table for seeding of playoffs and league shield.

    B) middle third, same thing. Except you’re playing for the last 4 playoff spots. I wouldn’t seed those 13-16 either. Probably 9-12.

    C) bottom third. The get better league. Squad development vs similarly positioned teams. Maybe sliding scales here for MLS-wide pooled DP or development academy $$$, winner rather than loser gets first draft pick, etc.

    Everyone has an incentive in the regional division round and everyone has something in the second round too, whether it’s a shield, playoff spots or seeing your subpar team play more competitive fixtures while building for the future.
    USSoccerNova repped this.
  9. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Combing USL Championship/USL League One and adding a few target expansion cities, and creating a 4 conference regional second division....


    1. Tacoma Defiance (Seattle Sounders)
    2. Fresno FC
    3. LA Galaxy II (LA Galaxy)
    4. Las Vegas Lights FC
    5. New Mexico United
    6. El Paso Locomotive
    7. Orange County SC (Los Angeles FC)
    8. Phoenix Rising FC
    9. Portland Timbers 2
    10. Sacramento Republic (Sacramento Republic FC*)
    11. Reno 1868 FC (San Jose Earthquakes)
    12. East Bay (San Jose Earthquakes*)
    13. San Diego
    14. FC Tucson
    15. Boise*
    16. Riverside*

    1. Saint Louis FC (Saint Louis MLS*)
    2. Swope Park Rangers (Sporting Kansas City)
    3. Austin Bold FC (Austin FC)
    4. Oklahoma City Energy FC
    5. San Antonio FC
    6. Real Monarchs (Real Salt Lake)
    7. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (Colorado Rapids)
    8. Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (Houston Dynamo)
    9. Tulsa Roughnecks FC
    10. North Texas SC (FC Dallas)
    11. Omaha
    12. Chicago (Chicago Fire)
    13. Lansing Ignite FC (Chicago Fire* > Columbus Crew)
    14. Indy Eleven (Chicago Fire > no affiliate)
    15. Forward Madison FC (Minnesota United FC)
    16. Des Moines* (FC Cincinnati)

    1. Hartford Athletic (New York City FC*)
    2. Bethlehem Steel FC (Philadelphia Union)
    3. Loudon United FC (DC United)
    4. New York Red Bulls II (New York Red Bulls)
    5. Ottawa Fury FC (Montreal Impact)
    6. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
    7. Louisville City FC
    8. Toronto FC II (Toronto FC)
    9. Penn FC
    10. Rochester Rhinos
    11. Richmond Kickers
    12. Cleveland*
    13. Virginia Beach*
    14. Providence* (New England Revolution*)
    15. Buffalo*
    16. Baltimore*

    1. Atlanta United 2 (Atlanta United)
    2. Birmingham Legion FC
    3. Charleston Battery
    4. Charlotte Independence (Charlotte MLS*)
    5. Memphis 901 FC
    6. Nashville SC* (Nashville SC)
    7. North Carolina FC
    8. Tampa Bay Rowdies
    9. Greenville Triumph SC
    10. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
    11. Orlando City B (Orlando City SC)
    12. South Georgia Tormenta FC
    13. Fort Lauderdale* (Inter Miami CF)
    14. New Orleans*
    15. Jacksonville*
    16. Asheville*

    2 games, home/away = 30 games total

    *Top 4 teams from each conference qualify
    *Randomly selected into World Cup style tournament.

    Group A:
    West 1
    East 4
    South 2
    North 3

    Group B:
    West 4
    East 1
    South 3
    North 2

    Group C:
    West 2
    East 3
    South 1
    North 4

    Group D:
    West 3
    East 2
    South 4
    North 1

    Home/away = 6 games

    Knock-out rounds

    *Higher Seed/League Points/Goals Scored/Coin Toss For wins home ground

    *3 additional games maximum
  10. Chicago76

    Chicago76 Member+

    Jun 9, 2002
    That type of system cuts down on travel and enhances regional rivalries, but I’m not really in favor of it. There will be huge gaps between the teams with USL Champ+/MLS- ambitions and the smallest clubs.

    The objective should be to promote regional rivalries while providing teams with higher ambitions/production the ability to play in a round robin home/away format. And the smaller clubs also getting fixtures vs clubs at their level of funding. The league wouldn’t want to burn too many dates on less competitive fixtures. That’s what a split season schedule addresses.

    I also think it will be extremely difficult to maintain a relatively stable slate of 64 sides at that level. Teams come and go unfortunately. I’m skeptical that the bigger clubs with better attendance won’t be picked off by MLS. I don’t think an Indy 11/Tampa Bay Rowdies would react positively to this because it guts their schedule quite a bit. The pendulum swings a bit too far. It might actually encourage more expansion up the ladder to MLS.

    If this was 4 divisions of 10-13 clubs or 6 divisions of 8–10 clubs with that 2nd season crossover aspect based upon division finish, I think it would be a more appealing product. Not really a single large level. Not really multiple levels quarantined from one another. Not really pro/rel either.
    Eleven Bravo repped this.
  11. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I’m a visual person but I’d say just draw a line between the top 8 and bottom 8 in each conference to differentiate the USL Championship and USL League one.

    Teams play each other 4 times in each conference for 28 games total. Still use the Championship Cup format.

    Bottom four teams play each other in the same conference for 6 games total. Bottom team is automatically relegated and second bottom team plays runner up from League One home/away.
  12. a_new_fan

    a_new_fan BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Jul 6, 2006

    its not a terrible idea but the in the end it just doesn't benefit anyone and doesn't serve a real purpose.

    there is obviously an issue with reserve teams not serving a real purpose at all other then just getting random players minutes to be 19-25 players for the big club. In the same league you have guys playing hoping to get into mls and even more then that most of the non-affiliated clubs are also looking to get in mls with the obscene expansion that for some reason is still happening.

    I think the usl is tied to tight to mls at this point and until they can get mls to stop expanding its really just a half hearted league not really making an effort to be a serious league.
  13. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Another suggestion might be too to move the games on Friday nights or on off nights from MLS regular season games to get more youths more matches.


    Aug 30, 2011
    Asteras Tripolis
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    i like these ideas.
    i like regional leagues.
    cant have a small team or a C league team going from FL to Wash for a match.

    usl 1
    usl 2, but make it regional, E and W or 4 groups if that works.
    3 or C. very regional.

    and i want some kind of connection,
    to the masl league. (indoor)
    and a connection to the nlpf (futsal) league.

    need a path for kids to go from high school, into 1 of these leagues.
    something where its more favorable than going to college to play.

    some kind of ladder system, like mlb has AAA, AA, A, where people can slowly climb the levels and make their way to mls.
  15. a_new_fan

    a_new_fan BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Jul 6, 2006
    the ladder doesn't guarantee that though

    a bunch of poor teams just playing eachother while 'fighting' for promotion to a 'better' league doesn't guarantee anything for young players and surely doesn't guarantee any player promotion or a chance at another level.
  16. 2in10

    2in10 Member+

    Reno 1868 FC and Nevada Coyotes FC (UPSL)
    United States
    Jun 19, 2016
    Sparks, NV
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    USL has stated they would consider pro/rel once they have grown out and stabilized Championship and League One. They are looking to go 36 to 40 teams at each level. We are looking at a well down the road scenario. I don't know if it helps, or how much if it does, any of the players on the teams as the number of games that they will play under the pressure of relegation would be relatively few just as for the players of teams in playoffs.

    This could make for some great excitement for fans of teams trying to avoid relegation.
    bigredfutbol and Eleven Bravo repped this.
  17. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Another question one might ask about USL is should a MLS reserve team be located in the exact place as the senior side?

    Personally, I’m starting to lean towards the reserve side should be close but not in the same town...

    Example: Seattle > Tacoma

    It seems like the teams with their reserve side who play in the same location also have worse attendance. Granted, there are advantages to having the player in house.
    2in10 repped this.
  18. Chicago76

    Chicago76 Member+

    Jun 9, 2002
    Players should be training in house with the MLS team most of the week. If they want to play matches down the road, maybe spend a day a week or every two weeks on community outreach and branding, then fine. The distances just need to be manageable. So maybe 90 minutes or less. So for example, FC Cincinnati having their reserves play and be branded as Dayton or Lexington.
  19. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    1st Division
    1. Phoenix Rising* [MLS Candidate]
    2. Las Vegas Lights* [MLS Candidate]
    3. San Diego [MLS Candidate]
    4. Sacramento Republic* [MLS Candidate]
    5. New Mexico United
    -6. El Paso Locomotive

    2nd Division
    +1. East Bay (San Jose Earthquakes)
    2. Reno 1868 (Las Vegas*)
    3. Tacoma Defiance (Seattle Sounders)
    4. LA Galaxy II (LA Galaxy)
    5. Portland Timbers 2 (Portland Timbers)
    6. Orange County SC (Los Angeles FC)
    7. FC Tucson (Phoenix Rising*)
    8. Omaha* [Expansion]
    9. Riverside* [Expansion]
    10. Boise* [Expansion]

    Note: If Phoenix enters MLS, their Reserves becomes FC Tucson
    Note: If Las Vegas enters MLS, their Reserves become Reno 1868.
    Note: If Sacramento enters MLS, their reserve team goes to either Stockton or Modesto.
    Note: If San Diego enters MLS, their reserve team goes to either Anaheim, Bakersfield, Long Beach, or Santa Barbara. Nonetheless, I’d like to see LA Galaxy II move to another area in LA where they could get better attendance.

    Note: Plays West-Central in a 12 team league. They’ll meet teams from the East in the Playoffs.

    1st Division
    1. Indy Eleven [MLS Candidate]
    2. Oklahoma City Energy FC
    3. Tulsa Roughnecks
    4. North Texas SC (FC Dallas)
    5. San Antonio FC
    -6. Austin Bold (Austin FC)

    2nd Division
    +1. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (Colorado Rapids)
    2. Rio Grande Valley Toros (Houston Dynamo)
    3. Saint Louis FC (Saint Louis FC)
    4. Real Monarchs FC (RSL)
    5. Chicago (Chicago Fire)
    6. Lansing Ignite (Detroit*)
    7. Swope Park Rangers (Sporting Kansas City)
    8. Forward Madison FC (Minnesota United)
    9. Dayton* (Columbus Crew)
    10. Des Moines* (FC Cincinnati)

    Note: If Indy Eleven enters MLS, their reserve team would be Fort Wayne or South Bend.

    Note: Tempted to move Austin’s reserve team to either Waco, Corpus Christi, Laredo, Midland-Odessa, or Collegestation.

    Note: I’d like to see FC Dallas move into the city, and North Texas United take over Frisco.

    Note: If Detroit comes into the league, they partner with Lansing Ignite.

    Note: I’d like to see Swope Park Rangers move to Wichita or Topeka.

    Note: I’d like to see Real Monarchs consider a move to Provo.

    Note: I’d like to see Portland 2 to consider a move to Eugene or Salem.

    1st Division
    1. Charleston Battery
    2. Charlotte Independence*
    3. Tampa Bay Rowdies
    4. Raleigh FC (Charlotte MLS*)
    5. Birmingham Legion FC
    -6. Memphis 901 FC
    *Plays against East-North’s first division

    2nd Division
    +1. Greenville Triumph
    2. Chattanooga Red Wolves (Nashville SC)
    3. Fort Lauderdale Strikers (Inter Miami CF)
    4. South Georgia Tormenta
    5. Atlanta United 2 (Atlanta United)
    6. Orlando City B (Orlando City’s SC)
    7. Jackson*
    8. Jacksonville*
    9. Baton Rouge*
    10. Asheville*
    *Only plays inside conference

    Note: If Charlotte receives expansion. Their USL/Academy team goes to Raleigh FC. And Greensboro, NC gets a team. Alternates: Macon-Warner Robins, Athens, Savannah, Columbus, Little Rock, Daytona, Bradenton, Naples, West Palm Beach, Montgomery, Pensacola, Huntsville.

    Note: Nashville’s reserves goes to chattanooga.

    Note: Kennesaw is far enough from downtown Atlanta, but I’d also like to see considered Athens, Savannah, Macon-Warner Robins, or Gwinnett County as alternate sites. Likely though, I’d say stay put.

    Note: I’d like to see Orlando City B think about a move to Lakeland, Gainesville, Ocala, Daytona, Pensacola, Naples, Bradenton, Valdosta, or Tallahassee.

    1st Division
    1. Louisville City SC
    2. New York Red Bulls 2 (NYRB)
    3. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
    4. Bethlehem Steel FC (Philadelphia Union)
    5. Rochester Rhinos
    -6. Richmond Kickers
    *Plays against East-South’s 1st Division

    2nd Division
    +1. Hartford Athletic (New York City FC)
    2. Harrisburg FC
    3. Ottawa Fury (Montreal Impact)
    4. Loudoun United (DC United)
    5. Cleveland*
    6. Toronto FC II (Toronto FC)
    7. Virginia Beach*
    8. Providence* (New England Revolution)
    9. Baltimore*
    10. Buffalo*
    *Only plays inside conference

    Note: I don’t know what to say, but Bethlehem Steel’s attendance sucks. That’s not a bad spot so I don’t necessarily think they need to move. But they’ve got to figure some things out.

    Note: I’d like to see the Revs move to Boston and their reserves to Providence.

    Note: I’d like to see the Red Bulls too find a better home for their reserves. I’d try to stay in the NYC metro area.
  20. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    #20 Eleven Bravo, Sep 2, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
    Ideally, I’d like to see the DA attached to this model to promote a natural trajectory for players from youth to senior side.

    But, there also needs to be some outliers out there for the players who will never play for a DA/MLS academy in their youth, but might play for their local club team and college. Ultimately, those players get discovered there.

    And, this way, the best, most ambitious teams second division teams play each other, offering a place where there is still competition and not a huge drop off from MLS. Furthermore, a club like, Atlanta United, who have been crushed in the Championship can regroup in the lower division.

    Lastly, I still hope that MLS eventually requires/promotes every team to field a u21 team. Basically, becoming the premier league of college aged players who are not quite good enough for MLS and bypassing NCAA strict rules. In this league, I would want every team to partner with the major state university in every state (i.e Atlanta United > Athens, Orlando City > Gainesville, Nashville > Knoxville, etc.). In this league, it’ll be player comes up through their academy, and still not quite good enough for championship (as that hopefully improves), they play for the U21 team. Plus, coaches recruit players from high schools across the state who otherwise did not have the opportunity to play for an academy. For instance, say a kid from Nacogdoches is a standout player, but his parents can’t drive him to practice hours away. When he graduates, he could try out for the u21 team and work his way up. Or say, a kid from Aberdeen, South Dakota goes totally unnoticed because he’s from Aberdeen. Well, he might do enough to catch the eye of the u21 Minnesota team and become a star that way.
  21. thedukeofsoccer

    thedukeofsoccer Member+

    Jul 11, 2004
    Youtube: Jimmy Dore, Secular Talk
    AFC Ajax
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I would be for it because cities didn't foot the bill for expensive, soccer-specific stadiums they need ROI for and there's no league buy-in to my knowledge. Those are the hold-ups for MLS, and why if they ever wanted to institute it, it would have to be a very slow roll out (over decades).

    When it comes to USL, it's random that one club's reserve team is at one tier and another's is below. FCD and Seattle/Tacoma is the best example. Seattle's academy has had success lately, but FCD's is far more established. Youth/reserve teams, ideally, would be playing at their appropriate levels for development's sake. I think one concern for MLS' brass may be that it opens Pandora's box.
  22. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Another thing that would help improve player development, in my opinion, would be to expand the Open Cup to a League/Knock Out Round tournament, and make a rule that DP’s cannot play in the group stage.

    Group 1
    Columbus Crew
    FC Cincinnati
    New England Revolution

    Group 2
    LA Galaxy
    Los Angeles FC
    San Jose Earthquakes

    Group 3
    Portland Timbers
    Seattle Sounders
    Minnesota United

    Group 4
    Colorado Rapids
    Real Salt Lake
    Sporting Kansas City

    Group 5
    Chicago Fire
    Saint Louis

    Group 6
    Orlando City
    Inter Miami CF

    Group 7
    DC United
    New York City FC
    New York Red Bulls
    Philadelphia Union

    Group 8
    FC Dallas
    Houston Dynamo
    Austin FC
  23. a_new_fan

    a_new_fan BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Jul 6, 2006
    its already a tournament and it doesn't start when the mls teams start playing in it.

    you can't ban dp's the issue is that they don't play already because most teams don't care about the tournament. they are trying to find ways to make it more relevant not less.
    jaykoz3 repped this.
  24. 2in10

    2in10 Member+

    Reno 1868 FC and Nevada Coyotes FC (UPSL)
    United States
    Jun 19, 2016
    Sparks, NV
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Franchise fees for USL in 2018 were $7 million and I thought I saw somewhere it was $10 million for 2019.

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