An Orlando Sentinel article published today speculates that Major League Soccer rosters next season may drop from 30 spots to 25. Orlando City made major cuts to its roster today with its USL-PRO season over in preparation for their upcoming MLS season, and that note was added to show what Orlando is preparing for as they go into offseason mode.
With MLS' partnership with USL-PRO in its second year, we've already seen the transition from partnerships to MLS owned and operated USL-PRO teams. LA Galaxy II were the first to break in, but Real Salt Lake and Montreal have confirmed their involvement next season while Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and Houston are all either rumored or all but finalized.
MLS rosters were expanded from 26 to 30 players in 2010 when the Reserve League returned so that teams could field full teams in reserve games. If MLS reduces rosters again, that likely means the end of the Reserve League with teams required to either have a full USL-PRO team or an affiliation with one.
Half of MLS has a USL-PRO affiliate, with New York allegedly joining the ranks next season. Chicago is also rumored to be interested in St. Louis as an affiliate, and Chivas USA are rumored to be going on hiatus next season. These leaves the Colorado Rapids as possibly the only team without some hint of their reserve side future, with Dallas also allegedly in the USL-PRO mix.
Season long USL-PRO loans will help teams deal with a roster shrink, while retaining the young players who make up their future.