Early this morning, David Fellerath posted an interesting interview with Carolina Railhawks President Brian Wellman on the Triangle Offense blog site.
I thought, first and foremost, it was excellent work by Fellerath to post a long interview with Wellman that goes beyond the simple front office speak usually seen from folks in such positions, and if you have interest in the USL and/or the Railhawks at all, it’s worth a read.
Second, it gives at least one side of the story on the recent discussions revolving around the USL – whether there will be new ownership/managment for the league itself, or whether existing USL teams will start their own league, etc.
At different points, Wellman mentions either competing with Major League Soccer (in the USL), or partnering with MLS (likely in a new league). Aaron and I have talked on the podcast about how if the USL takes a plan of attack to full-out compete with MLS, it probably won’t work. And that’s true for a new league if formed, as well. The only way to outdraw and outdo MLS would be to spend more on players and if MLS could do that itself, it would be.
A partnership between a new league and MLS would be an interesting venture. But MLS would have to make sure that any such arrangement would be completely beneficial to the league before jumping in. The earlier talk about MLS perhaps buying the USL and such is pure folly. MLS has enough challenges on its plate running one league – one that is growing by the year and may benefit down the road from how media outlets such as ESPN have seemed to turn the corner a bit with regard to the sport itself.
Where MLS could benefit in partnering with a breakaway league would be in player development. With the disappearance of the MLS Reserve division, opening up player development agreements with teams in a new league (which for the most part, seem like they would be already existing clubs leaving the USL), could allow MLS clubs a better outlet to get younger players games and then call on them when needed due to depth/injury/suspension issues. That’s not to say the new league should be a minor league for MLS – and there would have to be something in place to make such an arrangement agreeable and beneficial for the new league, too.
Any such deal, however, seems to be way off in the distance at this point. While the future of 3-5 USL teams, maybe more, seems to be up in the air, and the prospect of a new league is just that, a prospect, Major League Soccer’s best move is to stay out of it for now and see what transpires. Getting involved now may only upset the apple cart for the USL, the idea of a new league, and perhaps MLS itself.