Sports

Soccer Watch

(Re)United Soccer Leagues? Plus Stoke, Barcelona, and a 3-D World Cup.

USL-1/Austin Aztex Update: At press time, everyone is awaiting word of a rumored resolution to the dispute between the United Soccer Leagues and the breakaway North American Soccer League. The U.S. Soccer Federation is said to be brokering a deal to create a two-division league: teams under contract to the USL and teams no longer under contract. Under such a plan, the Aztex would be in a "United" division with Puerto Rico, Portland, Rochester, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore – while Vancouver, Montreal, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Atlanta, and St. Louis would be in the "North American" division.

Aztex affiliate Stoke City broke out of a deep scoring slump on Tuesday, beating Fulham 3-2 (despite a gorgeous 35-yard volleyed goal from Fulham's American striker Clint Dempsey). The Potters had been the lowest-scoring team in the English Premier League this season, and this was the first time they've scored three in one game since August 2008.

Barcelona, winners of everything in the world in 2009, started 2010 back home in Spain looking awfully ordinary (or tired, after fitting the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi in between their regular schedules). Within three days they suffered a home draw in league play and a 2-1 home loss in the Copa del Rey, in which they are defending champion.

ESPN has announced that the opening game of the 2010 World Cup (South Africa-Mexico) will be televised on ESPN 3D, the industry's first 3-D television network. That's June 11; set your DVR.


Is This the New U.S. Second Division?

Here's one way the U.S. Soccer Federation might restructure the United Soccer League First Division (see story). Each of these teams was in the USL-1 last season, except as noted.

United Conference

Puerto Rico Islanders

Portland Timbers

Austin Aztex

Rochester Rhinos

Tampa Bay Rowdies*

Minnesota Thunder

North American Conf.

Crystal Palace Baltimore**

Vancouver Whitecaps

Montreal Impact

Carolina Railhawks

Miami FC

Atlanta Silverbacks***

AC St. Louis*

*expansion

**up from USL-2

***ex-USL; sat out 2009


UPDATE

This alignment has since been confirmed by the USSF, with the exception that the Atlanta Silverbacks will not play in 2010, leaving two conferences of six teams each. For more info, see The Score. – N.B.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Aztex, United Soccer Leagues, USL, Stoke City, Barcelona, ESPN, World Cup

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