San Antonio is about to become a key battle ground in the future of soccer in the United States following Wednesday’s announcement that Major League Soccer and United Soccer Leagues will integrate the MLS Reserve League with the USL Pro.
This announcement is one that has been rumored for some time but with the announcement the process can begin to see these linkages take place.
Partnerships have already been formed with Sporting Kansas City linking up with Orlando City SC and Philadelphia Union linking with Harrisburg City Islanders.
There are 16 USL Pro teams and 19 MLS teams so if every team wanted to partner there would need to be at least three additional USL Pro teams, but teams on both sides will not be forced in to any partnership, Chivas USA announced on Thursday morning that they will not partner with a USL Pro side.
The current agreement will see the two leagues run independently with USL Pro sides being paired with a MLS side for a home-and-home series, the exception being Anguilla (who would be unlikely to form a partnership) who will play the MLS side they are paired with at the MLS venue twice.
MLS teams that partner with a USL side will not play in the reserve league with their USL affiliate essentially filling that role creating a set up similar to baseball’s farm system.
Houston and Dallas would both be eying off San Antonio as the perfect place to position an affiliate, but that would not be the San Antonio Scorpions who currently play in the North American Soccer League.
The other significant issue in the landscape for San Antonio is that Spurs Sports and Entertainment (SSE) holds the rights to a USL Pro team in San Antonio and so any partnership would need to be forged through them.
A partnership seems hugely beneficial for a USL Pro side and one in San Antonio would be a great boost to soccer in the city but with the Scorpions present such a partnership could set up a turf war that will shape the future of soccer in this country.
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