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

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