“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,” said MLS Executive Vice President of Player Relations & Competition Todd Durbin.
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.
The MLS/USL PRO affiliation
Under the new plan, in 2013 each of the 19 MLS clubs will field either a Reserve Team or establish an affiliation with one of the 13 USL PRO clubs.
Each club affiliation will be designed to meet the needs of their teams, but all will include at least four players on long-term loan from the MLS parent club to its USL PRO affiliate. Additionally, the technical staffs from both teams will collaborate on joint coaching seminars, business endeavors, scouting mechanisms and access to facilities. 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 next few days.
MLS Sporting Kansas City and USL PRO Orlando City SC already announced their partnership.
"It will provide beneficial opportunities for our players to develop within a competitive environment for a tremendous organization and fanbase," said Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes.
Under the new plan, each of the 13 USL PRO teams will compete in two inter-league 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. All inter-league games will count in both the official USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings.