Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pro/Rel Part of Original MLS Plans?

This may not be an entirely accurate headline, since it's from before the actual formation of MLS (December 1993). However it is a remarkable statement, when you think about it. It's from the 1990 World Cup media guide, put out by the USSF. The 1994 World Cup had been awarded to the USA, and a commitment to starting a new league was part of the deal. In the section called "Soccer in the USA" and under the title "The Future of Pro Soccer," here's what it says:

The U.S. Soccer Federation has developed a plan for the reorganization of professional soccer in the United States. The plan calls for a First, Second and Third Division professional structure, with a system of promotion and relegation that will be unique to American professional sports. Under the new system, any community in America, provided it meets the proper standards, could field a team in the new professional league.

Although there is no specific timetable to the beginning of this new league, the U.S. Soccer Federation is in the process of establishing rigorous membership standards, after which various teams around the United States will have the opportunity to apply for acceptance.
That's unbelievable. Who knows how long this idea lasted, but we can say with 100% certainty that pro/rel was part of the original plan. Also, this will be especially useful in any arguments made on Bigsoccer in the future :). FIFA helped Alan Rothenberg defeat USSF president Werner Fricker later that year, so that could've squashed any thought of it. If Fricker had remained president, would things have turned out differently?

Comments on "Pro/Rel Part of Original MLS Plans?"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:39 AM, May 31, 2007) : 

hey yeah this is gd news, in line with the top leagues all around the globe.

and youtube has shaken hands with MLS! a dedicated youtube channel now at


Blogger Eric PZ said ... (7:42 AM, May 31, 2007) : 

It'll be interesting to see what happens when MLS expands beyond 16 teams.


Blogger Zathras said ... (8:08 AM, May 31, 2007) : 

The "unique to American Professional Sports" part is worth noting. As there is no current Promotion Relegation structure to any other American Sport, it might just be a reference to (then) USISL clubs buying their way into the MLS structure.


Blogger Mike H said ... (3:21 PM, May 31, 2007) : 

I am very foggy on this, but I remember reading some articles about the coming pro league back in the early 90's and they mentioned pro/reg as well. Then again, I think the idea at the time was to incorporate the USISL into the new system.

Great find by the way.


Blogger elopingcamel said ... (3:31 PM, May 31, 2007) : 

This is off topic, but have you ever done any analysis of the different style of naming the teams in MLS? For example, you have the traditional soccer names like DC United, FC Dallas, etc. Then you have the American tradition of goofy animals or whatever like Dallas Burn and the Earthquakes. Maybe a look into whether attendance has been affected by Dallas changing their name, or whether there is a stronger showing for one style over another. (I realize that nothing conclusive could be drawn, but it might be interesting to see how the public has responded over the years and whether there is any correlation to names).


Blogger ULTRAS said ... (11:28 AM, June 01, 2007) : 

Obviously they didn't have the single-entity structure in mind when this was written. At this point its too late for Pro/Rel in MLS, but the USL should consider it.

@ elopingcamel: Word from Dallas is that they've sold WAY more jerseys, t-shirts, hats, etc than ever before. Its easiest to see when looking at the fans in the stadium wearing the hoops.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:02 PM, June 03, 2007) : 

Uh.. if fricker had remained president, we would all be lacrosse fans.


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