Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sounders to the MLS

Well, it looks like the Sounders are coming to the MLS in 2009, but that might mean they’re leaving the USL in 2008. Wow! I’m super excited to see Seattle getting into the MLS, but I’ve got to add some caveats to that:

I really hope there’s a continued USL1 presence in the Puget Sound area. Maybe in Tacoma? (The down side to that would be the loss of a great PDL rival to the BYU Cougars.) If, in fact, the Sounders aren’t coming back to the USL1 next year to try to help market the MLS Sounders for 2008 the USL should ensure that there’s a way to keep the Cascadia Cup a three-team affair.

I’d like to see the MLS version of the Sounders looking a lot like the current Sounders. Brian Schmetzer is a solid coach and would do well in the MLS. Sebastien Le Toux is a good looking striker, and there are a number of other good players on the team. This doesn’t mean that all the current players are MLS caliber, but there is something to be said for cohesion—and you know what, it might be interesting to see what promotion might look like in the MLS instead of yet another team built from the expansion draft.

The MLS needs to get Portland and Vancouver into the mix as well. This three-way rivalry is too good not to keep alive, and would translate well into the MLS. Throw in the natural Portland-San Jose rivalry and the potential for a Canadian Cup between Toronto and Vancouver and you get a lot of bang for some Northwestern expansion bucks.

These aren’t new ideas, I’ve been talking about them for a while, and I’ve seen them elsewhere as well. I just hope that ‘the powers that be’ are considering them.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 25 Extra Power Rankings

Okay, time again for my (completely subjective) ‘extra power rankings’, where I’ll toss the USL1 semi-finalists in with my ranked MLS teams. I caught some flack on the Atlanta discussion boards and in a comment on my extra power rankings from last week for putting Puerto Rico ahead of the Silverbacks. It looks like I did indeed goof that up, Atlanta has shot up from #16 to #10 below—hopefully this is a more realistic picture. Anyway, here’s how I see it:

Ranking Team
1 DC United (clinched)
2 Chivas USA (clinched)
3 Houston Dynamo (clinched)
4 New England Revolution (clinched)
5 New York Red Bulls (in the mix)
6 Kansas City Wizards (in the mix)
7 Chicago Fire (in the mix)
8 FC Dallas (in the mix)
9 Seattle Sounders (in USL1 Finals)
10 Atlanta Silverbacks (in USL1 Finals)
11 Portland Timbers (eliminated from USL1 Playoffs)
12 Columbus Crew (in the mix)
13 Colorado Rapids (in the mix)
14 Real Salt Lake
14 Los Angeles Galaxy
15 Puerto Rico Islanders (eliminated from USL1 Playoffs)
17 Toronto FC

What do you think? Am I way off base on any of these?

Week 25 Power Rankings

Much more movement this time around. There were some real surprises, perhaps the biggest was FC Dallas dropping 3 points to the LA Galaxy. This turned out to be a bit longer than I’d thought, but hopefully it’s all worth while. Read on for my rankings and some explanations.

The Good

1) DC United (50 pts, 26 games, 1.92 ppg)—Even missing most of their mid-filed, DC held a strong Fire team to a draw and came home with a point. Facing Toronto in RFK should keep DC on the winning path (and keep their boistrous fans happy). DC and Chivas are tied with a maximum of 62 possible points for the season, and are the co-leaders for the supporters shield.

2) Chivas USA (47 pts, 25 games, 1.88 ppg)—It’s Chivas’ turn to take on the Fire. Playing in LA will help. It’ll be interesting to see how Chivas fans take to Blanco. DC and Chivas are tied with a maximum of 62 possible points for the season, and are the co-leaders for the supporters shield.

3) Houston Dynamo (45 points, 26 games, 1.73 ppg)—Houston didn’t play this week, but moved ahead of the revolution anyway … good way to spend a bye week.

4) New England Revolution (46 pts, 26 games, 1.77 ppg)—The Revs took on a little water by not beating New York on Saturday. Getting to play the Rapids in New England should take the edge off.

The Fair

Other than the race for the supporters shield, this is the group where all the action is. Six teams are battling it out for four playoff spots. (Well, it’s more like four teams are battling it out for two slots, I think New York and Dallas have pretty well written their invitations.)

5) New York Red Bulls (38 points, 26 games, 1.46 ppg)—Pulling off a tie against the Revolution was big for them, and facing RSL in the Swamp should help them build up some points as well. They did come away with a draw in Salt Lake earlier this year (back when RSL wasn’t playing so well), so this won’t be automatic.

6) Kansas City Wizards (36 points, 26 games, 1.38 ppg)—Losing to Chivas at home wasn’t what they’d hoped for. KC still owns their own fate, but they need to pull things together. Facing LA at home should be good for three points, which will help. With a maximum possible of 48 points, the Wizards are officially out of the race for the supporters shield.

7) Chicago Fire (32 points, 26 games, 1.23 ppg) — The draw against DC is a decent result — the one against KC, less so. The fire just looked old and tired most of their Thursday night game (and the Blanco-cam sucked). Playing at Chivas isn’t going to help them either. With a maximum possible of 44 points, the Fire are officially out of the race for the supporters shield.

8) FC Dallas (40 pts, 26 games, 1.54 ppg)—Losing to LA was just bad. That’s why I dropped Dallas so far this week. Playing the Dynamo on Sunday is a great chance for redemption and if they can squeak out the win against a cross-state and divisional rival, so much the better.

9) Columbus Crew (31 pts, 26 games, 1.19 ppg)—They beat TFC … which is kind of like the the Red Sox beating the PawSox at their annual game. On the other hand, the Crew will also go down in history as the team that let TFC off the hook on their record scoring drought. With a maximum possible of 43 points, the Crew are officially out of the race for the supporters shield.

10) Colorado Rapids (29 pts, 26 games, 1.12 ppg)—Not only did they lose, they lost to RSL and hurt their chances at the Rocky Mountain Cup (the only silverware they still had a chance to take. With a maximum possible of 41 points, the Rapids are officially out of the race for the supporters shield.

The Bad

Mathematically, all of these teams are still alive in the playoff race. If Chicago can nail down 4 points, Colorado 7, or Columbus 5 each of these teams will be eliminated. I wouldn’t look for any of them to be showing up in the 2007 post season though.

11) Real Salt Lake (23 pts, 26 games, .88 ppg)— After dropping two points to the surging LA Galaxy (can I really call the Gals surging?), RSL came back and took three from Colorado. 4 points in a week isn’t too bad, and the coaching staff and new GM are looking hard at players for the 2008 season (more on this later). RSL will be lucky to get a point this week at New York.

11) Los Angeles Galaxy (21 pts, 24 games, .87 ppg) — On the strength of a draw against RSL and a win against FC Dallas, I’m moving them up a bit— problem is, RSL is looking better too. Playing at the Wizards and then at the Crew doesn’t look like a good way to make up ground on anyone (though the Crew are going nowhere fast).

13) Toronto FC (21 pts, 25 games, .84 ppg)—They broke their scoring slump, but they’re still sitting at the bottom of the table. Playing at DC this week probably won’t put any points on the table for them.

Monday, September 17, 2007

More on the Peruvian Relief Game

I’ve gotten a little bit of information back from Coach Watkins about the relief game being played after the LA Galaxy – RSL game on the 19th. One gem is that another BYU player has been invited to participate.

Chad Sackett invited Steve [Magleby], Hugh [Van Wagonen], and I to play in the game. We are looking forward to the game. It looks like it will be a competitive match. I am sure Steve and Hugh will do well, not so sure how much I have left in my legs.

When I asked Chad about the BYU selections (and the selections generally), he said:

We have invited 2 of the BYU players because of their past involvement in training with the RSL reserve team. Coach Watkins was invited as part of his help with providing BYU players for RSL reserve opportunities and as a local soccer player that has played at a high level. The other players have some tie to RSL as players, coaches or staff members.

I also asked him if there were a way for people to make contributions to the reflief effort, he recommended calling Francisco at 801-856-7619.

Week 24 Extra Power Rankings

It looks like my combined rankings drew some attention from the Sounders Forum. I’d love to hear what Sounders (or other USL1 fans) think about these rankings. This time around, I’ve only included the USL1 teams that survived to the second round of the playoffs.

Ranking Team
1 DC United
2 Chivas USA
3 New England Revolution
3 Houston Dynamo
5 FC Dallas
6 Chicago Fire
6 New York Red Bull
8 KC Wizards
9 Seattle Sounders
10 Portland Timbers
11 Colorado Rapids
12 Columbus Crew
13 Real Salt Lake
14 Toronoto FC
15 Puerto Rico Islanders
16 Atlanta Silverbacks
17 LA Galaxy

The top three USL1 teams would probably play at competitively against the lower end of the MLS table. After that, I think there’s enough of a drop-off that we’d see a new ‘bottom-tier’ of teams beneath TFC. Right now, the Galaxy looks so bad, I think any of the USL1 teams that are still playing could beat them.

Week 24 Power Rankings

There was a bit of minor movement in the rankings this time around. The biggest drop didn’t include a change in numeric rankings though, as we saw ne team switch tiers.

The Good

1) DC United (49 pts, 25 games, 1.96 ppg)—Barely beating RSL isn’t the best way to keep the top spot, but their only challenger managed to tie the Rapids … Playing the Fire on Sunday should be a good game, and will help cement DCU’s top spot with a win (or really push up the Fire if they pull off the upset).

2) Chivas USA (44 pts, 24 games, 1.83 ppg)—The lopsided result over LA made a case for them pulling ahead of DCU in my power rankings, but that ugly draw in Colorado (and up a man as well) keeps them stuck in second. The goats need to prove that they can win on the road.

3) New England Revolution (45 pts, 25 games, 1.80 ppg)—New England’s win over Dallas was a lot more convincing than Houston’s over LA. I’m putting these two teams into a tie for 3rd.

3) Houston Dynamo (45 points, 26 games, 1.73 ppg)—See above. On the other hand, Houston is getting sme players back and a week off. Hopefully they can come back strong.

The Fair

5) FC Dallas (39 pts, 24 games, 1.62 ppg)—The bad news is that their loss at New England drops them out of the upper tier, the good news is that they’re now the best team in the middle of the pack.

6) New York Red Bulls (37 points, 25 games, 1.48 ppg)—Pulling out a draw in Chicago pushes them into a draw. These are two teams that are looking pretty good right now.

6) Chicago Fire (30 points, 24 games, 1.25 ppg)—Looking ahead, the Fire can really gain some ground with a win at Dallas on Thursday, but Sunday is going to be a tough game at home. Four points would be a big statement.

8) Kansas City Wizards (36 points, 25 games, 1.44 ppg)—They beat the Crew, but didn’t look great doing it. I’m pretty the Wizards will make the playoffs, but I don’t think they’ll get much past that.

9) Colorado Rapids (29 pts, 25 games, 1.16 ppg)—They tied a Chivas team with road performance issues, that’s enough to keep them out of the lower tier and to move the Rapids above the Crew, but neither team really looks very good.

10) Columbus Crew (28 pts, 25 games, 1.12 ppg)—Yuck. Giving up the game in stoppage time like that looks like something that one of the the cellar dwellars below would do. If Columbus wants tomake the playoffs they need to play harder (and keep their fingers crossed), a Saturday game against TFC should help.

The Bad

11) Real Salt Lake (19 pts, 24 games, .79 ppg)—I’m keeping them ahead of TFC, only because a) they’ve scored recently and b) they managed to pull out a draw after almost 80 minutes of play while a man down. RSL can take 6 points this week, but given the way they’ve played anything from there on down to 0 would be unsurprising.

12) Toronto FC (21 pts, 24 games, .87 ppg)—Will TFC finally score against Columbus this week? A win is probably asking too much.

13) Los Angeles Galaxy (17 pts, 22 games, .77 ppg)—the RSL game might be almost fair (both teams reek of unmet promise, RSL will be without Espindola, LA will be playing at altitude). I don’t think there’s any question that the Galaxy are the league doormat right now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Week 24 Early Results

RSL 1-2 DCU: RSL looked pretty good in a losing effort. While they’re not going to make the playoffs this year, they’ve got to worry the Rapids and the Dynamo who are both looking for points (for the playoffs and the supporters sheild respectively). DCU is still looking dominant, and is in great position for both the playoffs and the supporters sheild.

LA 0-3 Chivas USA: LA spent most of the game looking ineffective until Chivas blew the game open in the closing minutes, then they just looked lost. Chivas could easily ride their momentum to a first place finish in the west, and maybe even the supporters sheild.

These two early games give us a little peak into next weeks rankings.

Of the losing sides, RSL played a better game and looked much more dangerous. I think this should push them further ahead of LA in the power rankings. A convincing RSL win Saturday’s RSL-TFC game would really cement that, but isn’t really enough to push them ahead of Colorado.

Between the winners, the Goats were much more convincing. I’d give them a slight edge over DCU, with a possible tie or usurption of 1st place if they can put a beating on the Rapids on Sunday. DCU still holds an edge over Chivas in ppg but the gap is closing.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Feeling (Not So) Good About Our Last Game

“We have to look at our group and feel very, very good about what they put into that game,” said RSL coach Jason Kreis.

Or not. I’d like to take some comfort in the fact that RSL played to the end and hung tough against two of the best sides in the MLS, but there have been too many ‘moral victories’ already this year. “We’re playing better” and “We’ve made such an improvement” were thrown at us so often this season that they’ve lost their punch. Now that we actually are playing better (and even stand to pick up six points over the next week, moving us further ahead of the Galaxy and TFC) it’s hard to feel good about a pair of losses.

At least now, there can’t be much more false hope of a miraculous finale which ends in a playoff berth. RSL and its fans can resign themselves to playing for next year, and there is something to play for there. We’ve got a great looking cast of youngsters and a raft of draft picks for next year. The next seven games should allow us plenty of time to evaluate current players, build some cohesion, and maybe even set a tone for next year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

RSL to host game for Peruvian quake relief

RSL has announced that the Sep 19th game against the visiting LA Galaxy will be followed by a 30 minute friendly with ‘Team South America’ facing ‘Team Utah’. Some of the gate receipts from the double header will be donated to Peruvian earthquake relief.

Two BYU Cougars will be involved in the game, Coach Watkins and Steve Magleby (who’s played with RSL’s reserves several times over the last couple of years) will be playing on ‘Team Utah’. I’m touching base with them to see what they have to say about it. More later.

A (Possible) Positive Result From the DP Rule

In his September 11th Inside Soccer article, Grant Wahl wrote:

2. The Galaxy’s ‘08 schedule needs to make sense. ... Keep in mind, Beckham might also miss a significant chunk of ‘08 if England qualifies for the European Championship (June 7-29, 2008). Don’t expect the Galaxy to be playing many games from late May to mid-June next year.

As I read this, I thought about the other DPs, and what playing time they might or might not get for their national teams. Is this kind of impact something that might move beyond Beckham? I doubt that we’ll see JPA, Reyna, or Denilson called up but Blanco is a possibility. Then there are a number of non-DPs that are seeing time on their own nations benches. Perhaps the added visibility of the DPs will force the MLS to start taking FIFA international dates more seriously—and, hey, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I already put together my MLS Power Rankings for week 23, but as I was doing it, I wondered where the top USL1 sides would fit. Now that their season is over and they’re headed into the post season, here’s where I’d slot the USL playoff teams in the MLS:

  1. DC United
  2. Chivas USA
  3. New England Revolution
  4. Houston Dynamo
  5. FC Dallas
  6. Chicago Fire
  7. New York Red Bull
  8. KC Wizards
  9. Columbus Crew
  10. Seattle Sounders
  11. Portland Timbers
  12. Colorado Rapids
  13. Real Salt Lake
  14. LA Galaxy
  15. Montreal Impact
  16. Toronoto FC
  17. Atlanta Silverbacks
  18. Rochester Raging Rhinos
  19. Puerto Rico Islanders
  20. Vancouver Whitecaps
  21. Carolina Railhawks

The top three USL1 teams would probably play at competitively against the lower end of the MLS table. After that, I think there’s enough of a drop-off that we’d see a new ‘bottom-tier’ of teams beneath TFC.

Week 23 Power Rankings

Weeks of non-soccer obligations and outright neglect have basically killed off my scariness rankings—at least for now, hopefully I can get them in shape in time for the playoffs. In their place, let me offer up my take on power rankings. The league splits pretty readily into 3 tiers, with some hints of movement between them. Here’s how I see it:

The Good

Up at the top of the stack are the good teams. These five clubs are pretty much assured of playoff spots and four of them should be in next years Super Liga (though there may be a surprise here).

  1. DC United (48 pts, 24 games, 2 ppg)—These guys are red hot at the right time. Emilio is looking unstoppable and should handily break 20 goals for the season. Several other DCU players are playing well enough to look like MVP candidates on a lot of the league. Even better, the team as a whole is just clicking. Upcoming game: RSL @ DCU
  2. Chivas USA (40 pts, 22 games, 1.81 ppg)—With a draw against DCU, a solid win over the Red Bulls, and a very soft schedule over the remaining eight games on their schedule the Goats are looking very good too. I expect to make a play for the Supporters Shield this year. Shoot, even their Sueno player is looking pretty good. Upcoming game: LAG @ Chivas USA
  3. New England Revolution (42 pts, 24 games, 1.75 ppg)—Even dropping their last game to DC United, the Revs are looking pretty good. Their remaining schedule looks pretty soft too, though they have fewer games remaining than Chivas. Upcoming game: FC Dallas @ New England
  4. Houston Dynamo (42 points, 25 games, 1.68 ppg)—They toughed out a win over RSL, and face RSL and the Galaxy (twice) over the rest of the season. They will be challenged by Chivas and FC Dallas games though. I don’t see them repeating as MLS cup winners. Upcoming game Dynamo @ LA Galaxy
  5. FC Dallas (39 pts, 23 games, 1.69 ppg)—They beat up a sinking TFC and Denilson is looking pretty good, but it doesn’t look like enough. I think they’ll settle for four points from the next five games, and probably only eight more the rest of the season. That may be enough to dump them into the second tier of teams. Upcoming game: FC Dallas @ New England

The Fair

The next group of teams are battling it out for the playoffs (and a strong finish by on or two of them might even claim a spot in the Super Liga).

  1. Chicago Fire (29 points, 23 games, 1.26 ppg)—Nine points in their last five games and a 7-4 aggrate score in those games makes this team look a lot better than their overall standing. Wanchope and Blanco have really been a boost to this team, and could push them into the top tier with continued solid play. Upcoming game: Red Bulls @ Fire
  2. New York Red Bulls (36 points, 24 games, 1.5 ppg)—Injuries and recent results make this look like a team on the wane. It’s hard to count them out though with Jozy and JPA up front. Having RSL, TFC, and the Galaxy in the mix of their upcoming games should help them stack up some points though.
  3. Kansas City Wizards (33 points, 25 games, 1.32 ppg)—Another team that’s dropping rapidly. A scary schedule that includes Chivas, DC United, the Red Bulls, and FC Dallas doesn’t bode well either, but I think they’ll be the eighth and final playoff team (will anyone come to watch their home games though?). Upcoming game: Columbus Crew @ KC Wizards
  4. Columbus Crew (28 pts, 24 games, 1.16 ppg)—Three winnable games to finish out September then a tough October schedule don’t help the Crews chances of getting into the playoffs. I expect them to be on the outside looking in. Upcoming game: Columbus Crew @ KC Wizards.
  5. Colorado Rapids (28 pts, 24 games, 1.16 ppg)—Two games against Chivas USA, one against the Revolution, and two against a resurgent RSL, and one against lowly TFC might see the Rapids only take six more points the rest of the year (they might not even keep the Rocky Mountain Cup this year). If that happens, Clavijo might not survive the off-season. The Rapids are on the verge of falling down to the bottom tier of teams. Upcoming game: Chivas USA @ Colorado

The Bad

If only the MLS and USL could work out relegation and promotion, there might be a reason to watch these guys finish out their season. These teams are just bad right now, though there may be some hope on the horizon—well at least the 2008 season.

  1. Real Salt Lake (18 pts, 22 games, .81 ppg)—Their horrid start doomed RSL this year, but a coaching change and a roster overhaul are starting to pay dividends. RSL will play the spoiler this year, and should compete for a playoff spot ext year. Upcoming game: RSL @ DCU
  2. Los Angeles Galaxy (17 pts, 20 games, .85 ppg)—Too many injuries and a terrible schedule are too much for the Galaxy to overcome. The good news is they won’t finish last in the league, but they won’t come close to being the super-team people expected. Upcoming game: Houston Dynamo @ LA Galaxy
  3. Toronto FC (20 pts, 23 games, .86 ppg)—Except for a brief, shining moment, these guys have looked every bit the expansion club. With an injury list that might have them starting recruits from the PDL, things don’t look to improve anytime soon. At this point, just scoring again might seem like a victory. Upcoming game: RSL @ TFC

Thursday, September 6, 2007

2020 Vision: The MLS Season

With the end of the PDL season and before the recent RSL resurgence, it’s been hard to work up the interest in putting together a good post here. The last couple of weeks have helped build up a bit of momentum though, and here’s the result—my look at the future of RSL, the PDL in Utah, and MLS in general. I hope you like it.

Turning from the PDL and UTSA, it’s time to look at final third of the MLS season and what went before. MLS still plays a single season bracked by the Concacaf Champions cup at the beginning and the MLS Cup at the end, with a number of interesting activities in the middle. Since these form a convenient outline for the season, I’ll just follow along.

Concacaf Champions Cup

The 2020 Champions Cup saw MLS entrants DC United and the Seattle Sounders acquit themselves well, with both teams making it to the semis where the Sounders fell to Pachuca. DC United beat CD Guadalajara in the semis before falling to Pachuca in the finals.

We won’t know who’s going to the 2021 edition of the cup, since the season not over yet, but DC United has to be the favorite to make a return at try to add a second Concacaf trophy to their shelf (to match the one they earned in the 2015 cup). Seattle, RLS, San Jose, Montreal, Chivas USA, and the Boca Jrs USA all stand a good chance of qualifying for one of MLS’ two slots as well.

US Open Cup

Since the 2013 decision to invite the US Open Cup winner to the SuperLiga tournament, this competition has taken on new meaning for MLS teams. Last year, the USL1’s Tacoma United managed to squeak past the San Jose Quakes in a west coast final. This year may see another USL1 team make it through with FC Detroit playing the Chicago Fire in the finals.

The influx of media coverage and sponsorship money have also made the US Open Cup more attractive to all the teams involved. At this point, the purse is rich enough that every qualifying team gets a small purse, and the deeper a team goes the richer the payout.


This has turned into a great competition with four US (and Canadian) teams, four Mexican teams, and a team each from Brazil and Argentina. Each year the US Open Cup winner, the MLS Supporters Sheild winner, the MLS Cup Winner, and the MLS team with the next best record to the three above) get berths in this tournament.

Last year São Paulo beat Club America in the final, breaking a three year run of MLS victories. This year’s field was offered some great competition, and featured several former SuperLiga winners. Next week will see the semi-finals being played, with Chivas USA facing the Boca Jrs at Azteca on Tuesday and a rematch of the Concacaf semi-finals with CD Guadalajara facing DC United in Washington on Thursday—Goats fans everywhere are hoping for an all Chivas final.

Supporters Sheild

Last year, the Seattle Sounders had the best record in the league to take this award. This year, they’re in the thick of it again. Here’s the table as it stands now:
Team Pts Games Played Record
DC United 44 22 13-4-5
Seattle Sounders 44 23 13-5-5
Real Salt Lake 41 22 11-3-8
San Jose Earthquakes 39 21 11-4-6
Chivas USA 38 22 11-6-5
Montreal Impact 37 23 10-6-7
Boca Jrs USA 36 23 10-7-6
Chicago Fire 34 22 9-6-7
New York Red Bull 32 24 8-8-8
Colorado Rapids 29 22 8-9-5
FC Dallas 29 21 8-7-5
Philadelphia Patriots 27 22 7-9-6
St Louis 26 23 6-9-8
Portland Timbers 23 23 6-12-5
Houston Dynamo 21 21 5-12-6
New England Revolution 18 23 4-13-6
Columbus Crew 14 22 3-14-5
Los Angeles Galaxy 13 21 3-14-4

Over the last four or five years, Seattle and DC have slugged it out near the top of the rankings every year. Real Salt Lake and San Jose are pretty recent members of the top tier after toiling away in the middle of the pack for many years. Chivas USA and Montreal have been hanging out on the cusp of the top tier of the league for a while too and may be coming on at the right time. Down at the other end of the scale, New England, Columbus, and Los Angeles have been stinking it up for a while and are near the top of most arguments for relegation. Philadelphia and the New York red Bull have also fallen off a bit lately, after spending much of 2013-2017 meeting each other deep in the MLS cup playoffs.


Last year, 2019 DC United took home the MLS cup in an 3-2 aggregate victory over the Seattle Sounders who had beaten them out for the Supporters Sheild. The teams with the top eight points totals will compete in a single elimination tournament, culminating in a home and away final. With nearly a third of the season left to go, it’s still too early to figure out who’ll be in the competition this year—there are a few teams who’re obviously out of the running though.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

2020 Vision: Soccer in Utah

With the end of the PDL season and before the recent RSL resurgence, it’s been hard to work up the interest in putting together a good post here. The last couple of weeks have helped build up a bit of momentum though, and here’s the result—my look at the future of RSL, the PDL in Utah, and MLS in general. I hope you like it.

Wow! It’s been another hard fought year in the Utah Cup, but the St. George Dragons have pulled out a victory in their first year back in the PDL beating out the division winning BYU Cougars.

The Utah Cup is a twelve year old competition between the Utah based teams in the PDL’s Northwestern Division. Each year, the cup is awarded to the team with the best intra-Utah record (ties are decided by head to head record, then goal differential). BYU has won the cup five times; Salt Lake City United and FC Jordan have both one it twice; and the Ogden Outlaws, FC Jordan, and the St George Dragons have each one it once.

While the Utah Cup highlights the best Utah teams in the PDL, there’s also a competition none of these teams want to be in, the relegation cup. The Utah Soccer Association (UTSA)1 is a six team league that sits just beneath the PDL, in which it owns three franchises2. Each year at the end of the season, the UTSA owned team in the PDL with the worst record plays in a one-game playoff against the UTSA champions. The winner plays in the PDL the next year, while the loser plays in the UTSA.

Last year, the St George Dragons dominated the UTSA season and beat the Ogden Outlaws in the relegation cup to join the PDL. This year, the Outlaws are back in the cup, hoping to knock off the Salt Lake City United and get back into the PDL.

This system of relegation/promotion and cross league franchise ownership has proven to be a good model for other leagues to investigate. A number of MLS fans have started to call for the league to try out something similar with the USL, especially after they’ve essentially promoted four USL1 teams as part of their expansion over the last ten years.

1 The UTSA was founded in 2012 with the intent of developing semi-pro soccer in Utah. They bought their PDL franchises and established their system of promotion/relegation in 2016 to further push semi-pro soccer in Utah.

2 Just for reference, here are the Utah teams in the PDL and the UTSA:

Four PDL Teams
  • BYU Cougars
  • FC Jordan (UTSA owned)
  • Salt Lake City United (UTSA owned)
  • St George Dragons (UTSA owned)
Six UTSA Teams
  • Lehi United
  • FC Logan
  • Ogden Outlaws
  • Southern Utah University T-Birds
  • Utah Valley University Wolverines
  • Snow College Badgers