Is Second Division Soccer Neccesary in the USA?

Let me preface this article by stating I do not subscribe to the view that I am about to write about. But enough MLS fans have expressed concern to me about what they consider a piddly minor league dispute potentially affecting the good work of MLS and the USSF since 1996 that I felt it was only fair to air some of these views.

Here are some of these thoughts:

“USL is a waste of time and space. Anything USL does, MLS and the USSF can do better. The USSF has academy teams spread throughout the country and promotes the national team as a brand name that is the “home” team everywhere.”

“USL’s death would be a good thing for American soccer. It would allow the MLS brand to spread itself into places like Minnesota, North Carolina, Atlanta and also get back into Florida. It is MLS that promotes the sport with clever marketing, a real TV contract, and Sportscenter highlights/good TV audience and brand recognition and USL that no one knows are cares about.”
“After so much time has been invested in MLS, and it has done so much good work for American soccer, this new NASL threatens everything. The USSF must reject the NASL and take USL out of the business of professional soccer. If you do not have enough fan support to join MLS, support the closest MLS team. With 18 teams around the country and more coming, teams are now close enough to everyone to support. “
“The teams from USL-1 and USL-2 can either be moved to MLS or replaced with amatuer teams playing in the area. USL’s youth system is obselete now that the USSF has its own development academy club team system and even if this dispute is resolved, the USSF should step in and shut USL down, forcing the youth teams to join the USSF system and the pro teams to either join MLS or drop down to the amatuer ranks. That would be the best solution for the American game and growing the brand. Fans in cities that previously had USL teams can support as new amateur team, growing that side of the game or pick the closest MLS team to support.”
“With MLS achieving so much success the last few months, you and other soccer writers have focused on a dispute between minor league teams in minor league cities. It is a disservice to soccer in this country and quite honestly, MLS is what matters, and is our league. Most soccer fans have never heard of Carolina Railhawks or Miami FC and do not care. American Soccer is MLS, and these teams should either play by the rules or be shut down. “
Comments taken from various message boards and emails to me since the beginning of the USL/TOA dispute.
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I’ve editorialized in the past that too many american soccer fans have confused what is good for MLS as a business as being good for American soccer. One such example is when a USL team, Puerto Rico faced an MLS team Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League, but so many US fans openly backed a team from Canada with less than half the number of American players that the USL team had.
The above listed comments rub me the wrong way, but they do represent a significant segment of American fandom. This group does not care about soccer beyond the MLS level, and often times shows a contempt for discussion of anything else in American soccer (unless it is the national team).
One more note. The closest Mexican League team (Atlante) is less than half the distance from me in south Florida, than the closest MLS team is from me (DC United.) So the comments that state that MLS teams are close to everyone are slightly bizarre.