A press release from Major League Soccer has announced a new deal with the USL Pro division. The multi-year partnership ‘will enhance the development of professional soccer players in North America, strengthen the competition in both leagues, and establish a solid foundation for future collaboration’, according to the preamble.
The 2013 partnership will include interleague play between USL Pro and MLS Reserve League teams, and the establishment of several exclusive team affiliations.
“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 ,” MLS Executive Vice President of Player Relations & Competition Todd Durbin said.
“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.”
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.
Clubs like Real Salt Lake which have no exclusive team affiliations will participate in the 2013 MLS Reserve League but MLS clubs entering exclusive team affiliations with USL Pro sides will send at least four players on long-term loans 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 according to the release.
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.