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USL First Division

From Academic Kids

A-League redirects here. For the Australian soccer league, see A-League (Australia).
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The United Soccer Leagues First Division is a professional men's soccer league in North America. It is the second division of soccer in the United States league pyramid behind Major League Soccer, and is effectively the top division in Canada. It is managed by the United Soccer Leagues (USL). It was known as the A-League until 2005.

The American Professional Soccer League was formed in 1990 with the merger of the Western Soccer League and the New American Soccer League. The APSL was officially sanctioned as an outdoor pro league in 1992 by United States Soccer Federation and changed its name to A-League Soccer in 1995.

Unlike most other nations, there is currently no system of promotion and relegation in American soccer; it has repeatedly been suggested to introduce it, but many feel that such a system is contrary to the way Americans think about sports and, more importantly, it is not currently practical given the financial state of American soccer.

Contents

Expansion and Contraction

The A-League's team structure currently remains very unstable. While 2004 saw the addition of three new teams, the Calgary Mustangs, Edmonton Aviators, and Puerto Rico Islanders, only the Islanders will play in 2005. Additionally, 2003 expansion team Syracuse Salty Dogs folded after only two seasons due to significant losses, and the Milwaukee Wave United announced that they will not play in the USL First Division in 2005. With only a few exceptions, A-League teams are not profitable, and require the committed investment of owners willing to suffer a degree of losses for the foreseeable future. The league has been declining in size for several years - in 1998, it had 28 teams; in 2001, it had 21; it currently stands at 12. Although the remaining teams are in general more financially viable than many of the departures, the small size of the league and the significant travel costs in a large country like America may put a significant strain on the resources of the remaining clubs. Many of the clubs that leave the A-League disappear completely, while others fall to lower divisions in the USL pyramid, such as the USL Second Division and the Premier Development League; unfortunately, and in contrast to other countries, the league sees very few teams promote themselves from lower divisions, most likely because of the increased costs associated with a national league, unaccompanied by significant increases in revenues.

2005 Teams

In October 2004, it was announced that the A-League name would be retired, and that the league would be known as the United Soccer Leagues First Division. It was also announced that the conference structure would be eliminated and the teams would play as a single table. These are the announced teams so far:

Complete team list

 

Past Champions

  • 1990 Maryland Bays 2-0 Ft Lauderdale Strikers
  • 1991 San Francisco Bay Blackhawks 0-0 (PKs) Albany Capitals
  • 1992 Colorado Foxes 1-0 Tampa Bay Rowdies
  • 1993 Colorado Foxes 1-1 (SO) Los Angelos Salsa
  • 1994 Montreal Impact 1-0 Colorado Foxes
  • 1995 Seattle Sounders 1-1 (SO) Atlanta Ruckus
  • 1996 Seattle Sounders 2-0 Rochester Rhinos
  • 1997 Milwaukee Rampage 1-1 (SO) Carolina Dynamo
  • 1998 Rochester Raging Rhinos 3-1 Minnesota Thunder
  • 1999 Minnesota Thunder 2-1 Rochester Raging Rhinos
  • 2000 Rochester Raging Rhinos 3-1 Minnesota Thunder
  • 2001 Rochester Raging Rhinos 2-0 Hershey Wildcats
  • 2002 Milwaukee Rampage 2-1 (2OT) Richmond Kickers
  • 2003 Charleston Battery 3-0 Minnesota Thunder
  • 2004 Montreal Impact 2-0 Seattle Sounders

External link

Template:United Soccer Leagues

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