Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crew Roster Development Gap

(After taking a look at the Crew / Dayton affiliation in my last post, I am now taking a wider view of what all MLS teams are doing to develop roster players and where the Crew fall in).

The recent announcement between the Columbus Crew and Dayton Lions has had time to soak now and after considering the pros and cons of the affiliation I believe it has to be in intermediate step, not the final goal.

After looking though each Major League Soccer team's college age development programs I've discovered that with the loss of a full reserve team and the lack of a U23 team the Crew have set themselves back from most of the other teams in the league.

As things stand right now, the Crew are one of just four MLS teams with no post high school development team of their own.


This is an issue for the Crew because of the big number of college age players they have brought on (having only an affiliation with a USL Pro team severely cuts opportunity for mins, looked at it in last post).

Ross Friedman, Matt Walker, Ben Sweat, Matt Wiet are players just added that could use a full reserve team season. There are other players, like; Brad Stuver, Justin Meram, Ryan Finley, Ben Speas, Shawn Sloan, Aaron Schenfeld that would benefit as well.

In recent years these players would have been able to gain competitive minutes on the reserve team.


Since MLS announced that teams had to either field a "B" team in USL Pro or affiliate by 2015 we have seen only one side decide to go with the first option (The LA Galaxy), and another 10 go with the 2nd. The rest are still hanging on to the MLS Reserve League for one more year.

If you were to quick score on post high school development opportunities for each MLS team by their U23 (or anything beyond U18) and their reserve preferences on a 1 (worst) to 4 (best) it would look like this:

8 : New York (NPSL Team, MLS Reserve Team)
8 : Chicago Fire (PDL Team, MLS Reserve Team)
8 : Montreal (PDL Team, MLS Reserve Team)
8 : Seattle (PDL Team, MLS Reserve Team)
8 : Los Angeles (New U23 Team, USL Pro B Team)

6 : Chivas USA (U23 SoCal Premier, MLS Reserve Team)

5 : Vancouver (PDL Team, USL Pro Affiliation)
5 : Sporting KC (PDL Team, USL Pro Affiliation)
5 : D.C. (NPSL Team, USL Pro Affiliation)
5 : Portland (PDL Team, USL Pro Affiliation)
5 : San Jose (PDL Team, USL Pro Affiliation)

4 : FC Dallas (No dev post U18, MLS Reserve Team)
4 : Real Salt Lake (No dev post U18, MLS Reserve Team)
4 : Colorado (No dev post U18, MLS Reserve Team)
4 : Toronto FC (U23/College Team, USL Pro Affiliation)

1 : Columbus (No dev post U18, USL Pro Affiliation)
1 : Philadelphia (No dev post U18, USL Pro Affiliation)
1 : Houston (No dev post U18, USL Pro Affiliation)
1 : New England (No dev post U18, USL Pro Affiliation)


There are a lot of benefits to the Dayton / Crew affiliation but it cannot remain the only developmental program for Crew players near starting MLS level. Look at the team at the top of the list up there. Look at all the players those teams will have their hands on, all the experience and even places for players recovering for injury to go.

The Crew have fallen back very quickly when it comes to this. Sending a few players out to Dayton and relying on college programs is not enough.

The less you have of that in relationship to the other teams in the league the further behind you will fall.

The ideal goal for the Crew should be to field both a PDL or NPSL U23 team and a full reserve team in the USL Pro division. Having a full USL Pro team gives a MLS team the ability to effectively increase their roster pool size from 30 to somewhere around 56-60.

For those that state money as a concern, a roster of 26 players in USL Pro would cost around $500-750k a year (median salary of around $25k per). Add in coaching and team travel and you are looking at something close to $1 million a year.

With the new USMNT / MLS TV deal in place and a reported extra $3 million going to each team, a full reserve team should be a priority.

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