MLS Reserve League USL Partnership Officially Announced

Ezra Shaw

A long awaited change to the MLS reserve league has finally been made official.

As reported a month ago USL and MLS were in discussions about combining the USL Pro league and MLS reserves. The deal has finally come to fruition and was announced by MLS today. According to reports MLS reserves will play 2 home and home series against a USL side and play against other MLS reserve leagues. At a minimum this will add 4 games to an already sparse reserve league schedule.

One wrinkle in the partnership will be affiliations between MLS teams and a USL team. MLS teams are not required to enter an affiliation with a USL team as it will preclude them from participating in the 2013 reserve league. However the affiliation will allow for 4 long term loans to the USL affiliate and this could mean a team could potentially carry 4 extra players if the loaned out players do not occupy a roster spot.

This will be a huge benefit to players 20 through 30 on the roster as 10 reserve league matches was not enough to further their development and in order to further their development more game time is needed. This is one more step in the process to develop better soccer players and MLS ready talent.

What do you think about this announcement?

Here are some excerpts from the MLS press release:

As it stands, each of the USL Pro teams will play a pair interleague games against MLS Reserve teams. USL Pro teams have been paired with a single MLS team to play a home-and-home series, save for Antigua, who will play both games at the site of the MLS team. The interleague games will count in both the official USL Pro and MLS Reserve League standings.

Club affiliations between MLS and USL Pro sides will be tailored to the needs of each specific team, and will include at least four MLS players going out on a long-term loan to their USL affiliate. Last year Portland's Bright Dike parlayed a good summertime run of form with the LA Blues into a starting job with the Timbers down the stretch, and several other players spent time honing their skills with USL Pro clubs.

The MLS Reserve League provides meaningful competition for players who are not regulars in the first team's matches such as young players, players returning from injury, and youth development products. Each of the 19 MLS clubs will field either a Reserve Team or establish an affiliation with a USL PRO club.

MLS teams with formal USL Pro affiliates will not play in the 2013 MLS Reserve League. No clubs are required to enter into an affiliation, and specific affiliations will be announced in the coming days.

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