USL Spotlight took a week hiatus last week as the fingers behind the keyboard of the project went on a whirlwind tour of the South showcasing his newborn daughter to the in-laws. Needless to say there was some difficulty finding time and a quite spot to put together a good article for the week. However, I am home again and the spotlight has been repositioned on USL Pro for the second USL Spotlight article on MLSReserves.com.
Much like the article from Week 1, this week’s spotlight is on another historic moment for USL. It is focusing on the first inter-league matchup between an MLS Reserve and a USL Pro side in a competitive fixture that counts toward both league’s standings. It was the first competitive fixture between MLS and USL Pro as part of the new groundbreaking player development partnerships the two leagues forged this off-season. The other side of the partnership was an agreement to send MLS players on loan down to a USL Pro side with a club that the MLS side has entered into a developmental affiliation with. You can find more details here.
However, VSI Tampa Bay’s second match would not prove as successful. They would go on to lose the match by a score of 2-1 as Portland’s Antonio “El Trencito” Valencia scored the winning goal for the Timber’s in the 81’. You can find a complete match recap here or full match stats here.
Tampa Bay will have to wait until Saturday June 1 to enact their revenge as the two teams will do battle for the second and final time in Tampa Bay as part of the Home and Away two-leg competition.
The reason why this has been singled out for this week’s spotlight article is because of both its historic nature and the understanding of the benefit the two leagues will have due to this new partnership. Here are a few points to consider:
- Supporters of both VSI Tampa Bay and the Portland Timbers were able to catch the action on USL Live – USL’s live online streaming service they offer to all of their matches this season
- The Portland Timber’s reserve players got an opportunity to see competitive minutes against a team that was hungry for a victory
- VSI Tampa Bay players have not only the opportunity to play competitive minutes in front of an audience of potential suitors from MLS but also test themselves against “better opposition”
- Tampa Bay also got an opportunity to play in a top class facility such as, JELD-WEN field
These are just a few quick benefits of this new partnership. Gone are the days of MLS Reserve teams mostly playing in front of sparse crowds, receiving practically no coverage, and playing in games with arguably less competitive motivation. Supporters of both teams now have an opportunity to view matches that have a new sense of importance and grandeur, as both teams compete for a number of different motivational reasons.
Are you hungry for more? Check out the other upcoming matchups between the two leagues in the months of April and May below:
Sat April 20 9PM: Harrisburg City Islanders at Colorado Reserves
Mon April 22 9PM: Phoenix FC Wolves at Real Salt Lake Reserves
Tue May 7 TBD: Los Angeles Blues at Los Angeles Galaxy
Sun May 10 5PM: Orlando City at Seattle Sounders FC Reserves
Sun May 19 TBD: Charleston Battery at Houston Dynamo Reserves
Don’t forget that four MLS teams formed a affiliations with USL Pro clubs and have on average 4 players from their team on loan to the USL Pro club and you can watch all of those USL Pro games live on uslnation.com . Many of the players loaned to USL Pro clubs are expected to see significant minutes. Those affiliations are:
The Columbus Crew and The Dayton Dutch Lions
DC United and The Richmond Kickers
New England Revolution and The Rochester Rhinos
Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City SC
That is all for this week stayed tuned for next week’s spotlight here on MLSReserves.com