The new MLS development league, which has yet to be given a name, is expected to include all MLS club teams in its first year. By 2023, all Major League Soccer teams with a lower-division team will play in the new league, which will most likely include a number independent clubs outside of the MLS.
There are three factors for the league’s initial creation, according to the Major League Soccer president Mark Abbott: “Completing the pro pathway from the youth level to the MLS and providing more opportunities in various soccer-related to roles to a more a diverse pool of candidates”. Abbott also added: “We need to find a place for them to have meaningful competition and meaningful minutes and having a vibrant, lower division league is a way to do that.”
At this time the MLS has applied for Division III sanctioning from the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), which is very similar to the USL League One and a level below the USL Championship. In the U.S., where there is not a promotion-relegation system, sanctioning for different divisions takes into account factors like stadium size and standards, media capabilities, market size and more. There will not be any restrictions related to age.
A USL spokesperson said: “The more pathways there are for young players across the country, the better. We wish MLS success in their efforts and look forward to continuing our work together to grow the sport of soccer in the United States.”
In the new league the MLS operated teams are expected to play either at the MLS stadium or at a very smaller venue and in relatively close proximity, as it’s possible some Major League Soccer teams could choose to place their second team in a separate media market in an hopes to expand their reach. It is also our understanding that independent teams will be required to pay an undisclosed expansion fee to take part in the league.
The calendar will be in line with that of MLS, including the conferences. A 20-26 game schedule will begin most likely in March leading into playoffs and a the championship game in December. Non-MLS-Teams will also be eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup.
It all sounds very interesting… Let’s see how it all develops!!