The Sweeper: Breakaway American League Confirmed

USL breakaway

Big Story
After months of speculation about a breakaway in North America’s second division, featuring farcical news management by USL and ambitious statements from the renegade Team Owners Association, it’s been confirmed today that a new second division professional league will launch in the United States in 2010, consisting of the Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina Railhawks, Miami FC, Minnesota Thunder, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps and St. Louis Soccer United, most of those leaving USL-1. The new league has submitted its application to US Soccer for approval, and likewise in Canada.

So now, after all the talk, it’s time for the hard work to start. One key decision will be finding a commissioner, who it sounds like will have wide-ranging power, and the league plans to commit considerable resources to nationwide marketing, a weakness of USL-1. One of the key driving forces behind the league is Jeff Cooper of St. Louis, who has for some time been attempting to win an MLS franchise (and also owns a WPS franchise), and whose ambition for the league is clear. “This will be a league that will offer the best of both worlds – outstanding experience and leadership at the ownership level combined with the promise and ability to chart our own course for success as a new league,” Cooper said.

If the league’s strong marketing plans are a success, this could be a big step towards putting professional soccer really on the map nationwide outside of MLS, and give the sport deeper roots and broader coverage. Just no more silly talk about a winter league, OK? And what’s the future for USL-1 now?

Worldwide News

  • Rangers and Celtic fans are accused of “a stunning exhibition of ignorance and bitterness” by Graham Spiers in the Times, as he looks at a messy dispute over observance of Remembrance Sunday.
  • Sunderland fans who believe they have been unfairly banned from the Stadium of Light have launched a petition appealing to chairman Niall Quinn.
  • All that glitters isn’t gold, as Notts County face a winding up order. We hate to say I told you so, but the Supporters’ Trust who handed over power and wrote off an awful lot of money might be having second thoughts at this point.
  • EPL Talk urges Fox Soccer Channel to switch to American commentators for its UEFA Champions League coverage, castigating the quality of commentary so far. I have to say, as much as I’m not keen to hear Max Bretos scream “yessssssssssssssss” any more than I have to, the announcing has been poor. It’s a shame, as the quality of the broadcasts — with so many games available in high definition — has been outstanding otherwise.
  • David Ngog’s dive for Liverpool against Birmingham is the focus of most of the discussion in the English press today, with Henry Winter calling it “shameful”
  • Wow, Carson Yeung. Wow.

The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.

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