Yesterday, the United Soccer Leagues announced that they were rebranding their current USL, USL D3, and Premier Development (PDL) leagues to provide synergy between the three. With the leagues now branded the USL Championship, USL League One, and USL League Two, all three leagues are under one corporate structure and brand identity.
Currently, several Major League Soccer franchises operate junior clubs (more commonly known as MLS2 teams) that play in what is now the USL Championship and USL League One: the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City, Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls, and the Philadelphia Union, with D.C. United forming a team to start play next season and Orlando City reviving their team next season as well. Other MLS teams form affiliate partnerships with independent USL teams where they can loan players signed to their roster to get more playing time. Columbus Crew SC, the New England Revolution, and Minnesota United are the only MLS teams without a junior team or affiliate in USL.
There is generally a spending gap between the MLS2 teams and the independent teams within USL, with the MLS2 teams able to field players with much greater salaries than that of some of the independent clubs. Some have called for MLS to revive the old Reserve League, which would have the MLS2 teams in a separate league with a separate championship. In any sense, the call for MLS teams to have a 2 side to help youth development and get players the time they need when they’re not regularly appearing for the senior team is growing. The real debate is what structure those MLS2 teams should have.
So, should MLS reinstate the Reserve League and have all teams battling for a secondary championship amongst themselves, leaving the USL free to have more independent teams? Should MLS teams be required to have a MLS2 side but remain free to keep them under the USL umbrella? Or, should teams be free to do what they want, whether they want to maintain a MLS2 side, affiliate with an independent club, or have no partnership at all? We bring this debate to you! Fill out the poll and hit the comments to let us know how you voted and why!
Should MLS reinstate the Reserve League?
This poll is closed
Yes, separate the MLS2 teams
No, teams should be able to do what they want
No Reserve League, but teams should be required to have a MLS2 side.