On Jan. 12th, Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier-Journal posted a great article about the rising costs in the USL. (article) His piece made some excellent points and while I don’t think the situation is dire, it could look different in a couple of years. FC Cincinnati, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Sacramento Republic FC and a handful of other USL teams have made their desire to play in Major League Soccer (MLS) public. As long as MLS dangles possible membership as a carrot, we can expect these teams to show that they are of MLS caliber by increasing their spending.
The USL has no salary cap, so teams are free to spend as much as they choose. At the same time, the league encourages some cost conservation to keep a majority of teams competitive so there is not an imbalance. However, some larger market teams may increase their spending to validate their viability as an MLS franchise, while smaller teams could struggle to match. Teams like Louisville, Rochester or Richmond that still want to win championships in the USL but have little chance of MLS status find themselves stuck in the middle.
With its newly established D2 status The USL, finds itself in a crossroads in strategy. Encourage all your teams to increase spending to a perceived D2 level, or allow teams to see what is feasible in their market. Regardless of the path it takes, it needs teams like Louisville and Saint Louis FC to stay strong. As a rival, FC Cincinnati also wants and needs Louisville to be at the top of its game.
What FC Cincinnati matches are the most exciting to you? Is it when we watch Cincinnati play the Red Bulls II in an empty stadium? Or was it when we traveled to Louisville? Or the first round of the Dirty River Derby early in the season at Nippert? I’m willing to argue the best games are the ones when more than 3 points are at stake.
Rivalries spike attendance, draws new fans, spawn t-shirts, and become the talk of the town. Taking two good players from our neighbors only will intensify the three games played between our teams. That rivalry needs to grow and that can only happen with a competitive rival. FC Cincinnati fans should hope Louisville lands their stadium deal and that they sign good players and boost attendance. Louisville producing a strong team benefits us, too. Jabbing at the misfortunes of our rivals may be fun, just remember their overall success helps drive our own.
You say “Bully.”
— Queen City War Pigs (@CincinnatiFC) January 13, 2017