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The Real Deal

Players for Real Maryland, a new pro soccer club based in Montgomery County, have gathered behind the north goal of the No. 20 field at the vast Maryland SoccerPlex. The early-evening air crackles with sound -- a brew of English and Spanish banter, the thump of a foot striking the ball, a coach's pointed instruction, shrieks from youth teams practicing nearby. For Monarchs defender Matt Eby, the disorderly setting is seen but not heard.

Read the rest of the story by clicking here.

By Steve Goff  |  April 20, 2008; 2:13 PM ET
Categories:  USL  
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Next: The Good, The Bad, The Coyote Ugly


Nice article Goff. Really goes to show that if this guy can communicate there is no reason why the Spanish/English barrier should exist on DC United.

On a side topic...
Anyone think that USL will ever get absorbed by MLS as a second division?

Would the relegation/promotion system work for any US league (NFL, MLB, etc...)?

I don't see it happening with the infatuation with the playoff format.


Posted by: N. Daknow | April 20, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Real Maryland lost its opener, 1-0. Goal in the 32nd minute. Real shorthanded the final 22 minutes. Match delayed a half-hour in first half because of bad weather.

Posted by: Goff | April 20, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

RE: relegation. Ain't gonna happen. No "investor/operator" will sink tens of millions of $ into a team that may be relegated. We really need a FAQ.

Is the title of this thread pronounced the Ray-al Day-al?

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | April 20, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Re: Relegation/promotion. Something that works around the globe which has the same platform no matter where you play, why it will not work in the country that has the most opportunities? I just do not undertand why this concept that this system doesn't work in the USA. Forget about other sports that do not really have relegation type. It doesn't work because most people who set up the system and have the power have that mental status that do not want to change. Untill champions league, super liga, copa libertadoris system perfectly set up the system that, the upper and lower teams from each south, north and central america, has the opportunities to play for something. I know it will be more painfull to watch your team, specially if you are in the relegation zone but that also has the motivation to play harder and look forward to play for promotion. If USL and MLS can agree to shar the stadiums the cost would be more desirable to both leagues and I don't think it can get any worse than the relegation team would be like the current USL league.

Posted by: td | April 20, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I think Goff needs some lessons on taking time off. OTOH, maybe not!

Posted by: JSF | April 20, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Promotion/relegation, at least in North America at this time, seems like a solution in search of a problem. To gain entry into MLS as an expansion team, you have to demonstrate that you have a sufficient level of capitalization (in the tens of millions of dollars, if not more), a stadium (preferably an SSS) of a sufficient size, the ability to meet a payroll of several million dollars, etc., etc. There are few, if any USL clubs that even come close to meeting these standards. If they entered MLS through promotion, they would stick out like a sore thumb, and they probably wouldn't last long. Other countries have divisions that are not so far apart in terms of level of play, financial capacity, etc., so movement between them is more feasible.

I haven't even mentioned how promotion/relegation would wreak havoc with MLS' unique ownership structure (I believe the league still owns 51 percent of each team).

Posted by: tri-village | April 20, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Would the relegation/promotion system work for any US league (NFL, MLB, etc...)?

No. See my post above. Ask yourself whether any Class AAA baseball team, if invited to move up to the majors, would be in any position to do all the things that would have to be done, and in the roughly six months between the end of one season and the start of the next. (Finding a stadium that is several times larger than the one they've been playing in, for starters.)

Posted by: tri-village | April 20, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Beautiful article, Steven.
Thank you.

Posted by: Dobey | April 20, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Baseball can't have promotion/relegation because the minors are over 90% owned and operated by major league teams. What happens when one teams AAA affiliate joins the league and you have two teams with the same owner. Or MLB gets relegated and AAA gets promoted and the owner gets fancy relocating both teams to the others market?

If the NFL wanted to and could accept teams playing in college stadiums that over time would cut their profit margins they might be able to swing it. But municipalities put up the money on the understanding they were giving millions to an NFL team (same with baseball & soccer & basketball- basically where municipal funding has as an assumption a team playing in a certain level league you'll never get the politico's ok, you need a complete league collapse leaving the politico's with a multi million dollar white elephant in multiple martkets to try to make it fly).

In the USL teams are playing at the level that they can afford and not neccessarily the level of play. Richmond self relegated for financial reasons. It would be suicide for a west coast team to join USL 2 instead of USL 1 because the travel costs are different (all USL 2 teams are east of the Mississippi, I believe).

Except maybe the J-League I can't think of a league that went from a closed ownership system to an open pro-rel system (and the J-League put strict controls so its closer to a closed pro-rel system). The 'everyone all around the world does it' pro-rel came from professional leagues built on a base of an amatuer league. America probably lost its chance at a pro-rel professional soccer league when the very early leagues of the 20's folded.

Posted by: blueameanies | April 21, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I really think that promotion/relegation woudl be cool to see in MLB, NFL, or NBA. Of course it will never happen, but could you imagine how cool it would be to see the worst teams get sent down a division for having a crappy year instead of mailing in the second half of the season in order to get a better draft pick?

Relegation/Promotion was one of the things I liked most and was most fascinated with about European soccer when I got into it.

Posted by: Rob | April 21, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

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