Major League Soccer and USL Pro announced today a multi-year partnership that for 2013 will have MLS Reserve League teams having inter-league play matches with USL Pro. It will also create exclusive team affiliations between MLS and USL Pro. The LA Galaxy have not yet announced an official partnership, but Sporting Kansas City has already announced affiliation with Orlando City FC.
"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 ," MLS Executive Vice President of Player Relations & Competition Todd Durbin said. "Over the past several years, USL PRO has made great strides in restructuring their league in a manner that serves to complement the objectives of MLS. This is a win-win for all involved, and it demonstrates our strong commitment to growing North American professional soccer at all levels."
Each club affiliation will include at least four players on long term loan from the MLS parent club. Teams with formal USL Pro relationships will not participate in the Reserve League. Clubs are not required to affiliate.
Each of the 13 USL Pro teams will compete in a home and home series with a single MLS reserve team. All inter-league teams will count in the standings of the respective leagues.
This is a big change in the way that MLS runs its reserve leagues, but let's hold off for a moment on hyperbole. First to look out for is whether the LA Galaxy affiliate with local USL Pro club LA Blues. We'll have more information as it's available.