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January 23, 2013 at 12:58 PM

MLS announces partnership with USL PRO

MLS Logo.jpgInteresting and potentially exciting news was announced by MLS on Wednesday afternoon.

The league will enter into a multiyear partnership with USL PRO, in a lower tier of American soccer, to enhance the development of players in this country.

The deal will involve interleague play between USL PRO and MLS Reserve League teams and exclusive team affiliations (e.g. New England Revolution and the Rochester Rhinos).

Here’s part of the release:

Each club affiliation will be customized to meet the needs of the respective teams, but all will include at least four players on long-term loan from the MLS parent club to its USL PRO affiliate. Those MLS teams with formal USL PRO affiliates will not participate in the 2013 MLS Reserve League. Neither MLS nor USL PRO clubs are required to enter into an affiliation, and specific affiliations will be announced in the coming days.

Each of the 13 USL PRO teams will compete in two interleague games against MLS Reserve teams. With the exception of Antigua, which will play both of its games at MLS Reserve teams, USL PRO teams have been paired with a single MLS team to play a home and home series. All interleague games will count in both the official USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings. Details of the fixtures will be announced in conjunction with the forthcoming release of the official 2013 USL PRO schedule.

And here’s some reaction in the release from some of the folks involved:

“This partnership represents the first step in a long-term alliance between MLS and USL PRO to connect domestic professional soccer through a system that benefits player development, competition and the overall business of our sport. Over the past several years, USL PRO has made great strides in restructuring their league in a manner that serves to complement the objectives of MLS. This is a win-win for all involved, and it demonstrates our strong commitment to growing North American professional soccer at all levels.” — Todd Durbin, MLS Executive Vice President of Player Relations & Competition

“This new partnership with MLS will elevate and strengthen the level of competition for domestic professional soccer while simultaneously creating a more sustainable financial model for team owners. As a result, we expect this partnership will forge a seamless system for the development of players and coaches, and promote the expansion of professional soccer into new North American markets.” — Alec Papadakis, USL CEO

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