USL Come Back
Reno 1868 FC player Corey Hertzog celebrating his goal. Photo by David Calvert.

Everyone is looking forward to the Bundesliga kick off this weekend on May 16. We are still waiting to hear about when sports in America will resume. For Major League Soccer (MLS), teams like Las Angeles Football Club (LAFC) are returning to small training sessions. United Soccer League (USL) is also following the lead but may have a harder time coming back.

USL is currently allowing teams to have voluntary small training groups of four people. The work is focused on dribbling skills and fitness. They are also paying attention to practicing passing and shooting (with no goalies).

They are shooting to have the league starting games by late June. However, some problems could hold this back.

“I think that this is one of the biggest hold-ups right now. Certain states are doing things on a different timeline,” said Ian Russell, Head Coach of Reno 1868 FC.

Some states may be able to allow their stadiums to open to fans, while others can’t. This is important because USL teams are heavily dependent on stadium revenue.

Russell addressed the issue of how they don’t get much TV revenue. USL is a step behind MLS because of this. There is no exact solution to how to carry on the season without getting revenue. Also, there is a high possibility that the season will be cut down to 24 games instead of the normal 34.

Even the recruiting process has changed. With the June trading window just around the corner, teams are having to adjust how they get new players. Russell talked about how using tools like Skype to interview the players is a major key. Also asking their previous coaches about the player’s locker room attitude is another tool.

The problem is with the fact that teams aren’t able to see how these players play one-on-one. They can receive highlight videos, but that only shows their best performances.

Hopefully, we will be able to find a way to hold games with fan attendance. It will be interesting to see the USL come back during summer and how the teams have changed.