Friday, April 10, 2009

The USL season kicks of tomorrow as Vancouver Whitecaps aim to defend their Champions crown.

It’s felt like a long time in coming round and it almost feels like the night before Christmas to many of the fans.

It’s an exciting time in general for USL Clubs.

Last season they proved that there was no real gulf between the top teams and the MLS. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the standard of football on display in a lot of the USL games is of a higher quality than it’s big bucks rival.

The performance of the USL Clubs in the Canadian and US cups was a joy to behold, with Montreal and Puerto Rico doing the League proud by reaching the latter stages of the CONCACAF Champions League.

I watched the end of the second leg of the Puerto Rico Islanders Champions League semi final match against Cruz Azul.of Mexico on Tuesday night. Cracking match which went to penalties before the Mexicans finally came through after some well taken spot kicks.

The match ended 3-3 on Aggregate with Puerto Rico scoring the only away goal of the tie. With it coming in extra time though, CONCACAF don’t count it as double! And right there, that’s one of the many reasons why the region isn’t treated seriously on the world stage.

The way that both the USL and MLS are run at times don’t help. At least the USL have now made the Championship game a two legged affair after last season’s debacle that saw Vancouver finish second but host the top place Islanders for whatever the “official” reasons actually were.

With the USL losing Seattle this year to the MLS and Vancouver and Portland in 2011, it really is about time that the two Leagues got together and thrashed out a proper tiered League system in North America. One with one top division, no conferences, and promotion and relegation, proper youth development and no playoffs for the Championship.

I’d love to see most, if not all, of the major cities hosting a professional football club.

It’s never going to happen of course, at least not in the foreseeable future, but it really is the only way to gain full credibility in certain parts of the rest of the world, but more importantly, help the sport grow on the continent and develop world class players that will see the CONCACAF teams perform with the world’s leading sides at the World Cup.

I like to dream.

One more sleep.

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