3 Conclusions on USL PRO’s 2015 Schedule


The day has finally come that the true American soccer geek has been awaiting: The complete USL PRO schedule was released on. Monday Home openers were released over the weekend, check my piece on that. I won’t paste the entire schedule here, because it is a respectable 336 game season, an obvious new high for the league. That’s 24 teams playing a 28 game schedule, two against each conference opponent with the remaining six being played against varying inter or intra conference rivals.

You can check out the full schedule on the league’s site. What I did want to talk about were there conclusions we can draw from this schedule.

1. The USL PRO schedule is even more unbalanced than the MLS schedule

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This argument will be old hat to those following the criticisms of MLS’ scheduling over the past seasons. For those unfamiliar, in most leagues around the world there is a balanced schedule. This means team plays each other team an equal number of times. From a competitive standpoint, this makes logical sense, but obviously in a geographically and likely financially challenged league like USL PRO, this option was unfeasible.

What we end up seeing are some West Coast teams not playing a single East Coast team, and vice versa. Not a massive problem, but an obvious vulnerability for criticism if true competition is ever claimed from this league. Although, they could just reply, “I learned it from watching the Don (Garber).”

2. Regionally focused

This conclusion obviously is tied to some of the geographic limitations, however, we do see some deviations from conference play to support a real push towards regionalism (e.g. Vancouver playing Toronto or Colorado playing St. Louis). While within conference play, there is an obvious push to make potential rivalry match-ups happen often (Portland and Seattle will face off 4 times). This strategy is a good one, because even though MLS is supporting this reborn league, it’s in USL PRO’s best interest to create exciting in-game experiences, and what better way to do that than an ultra-intimate rivalry match.

For those naysayers concerned that this will dilute these rivalries, I’d point to the match-ups between Sacramento and LA II from last season. The familiarity bred hostility between these two; it also helped that Sacramento has a serious MLS-envy complex.

3. The USL PRO schedule does not mirror the MLS schedule.

While some of you may be saying “Duh” to this, I would recommend you check yourself. The true American soccer geeks out there will remember the MLS Reserve league and its scheduling model. That league basically had reserve sides shadow their big brother MLS squads and play the reserve team of the club big brother played the day previous.  Now, we see a schedule completely independent of big brother. There are games when big brother’s home and little brother’s away. There are games when big brothers home and little brothers home, the next day. There are weeks when big brother is off and the little brother has multiple games.

There are obvious pros and cons of this.

Con- MLS of the current season isn’t the end all, be all. If an MLS club needs a guy from their reserve squad — irrespective of these roster rules, as I’m not sure if they exist yet. If they do please comment below, I’d love to know– they won’t be able to immediately act, because the USL PRO side may have just finished a 4 game in 16 day span.

Pro- There is an acknowledgement that USL PRO must be its own product, and is taking itself seriously. And as such, each club can guarantee their own performance as best as possible, given similar scheduling issues and roster rules laid down for the league as a whole.

The biggest conclusion that we can all draw from this schedule release is that this USL PRO season will be an historic one, not just for the league but for American soccer.

Next: Morning Kick Around: MLS Expansion Teams Making Moves

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