Wednesday, December 8, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. – United Soccer Leagues announced today that Puerto Rico United Sporting Club will become the third team from the Puerto Rico Soccer League to compete in USL PRO in 2011.
Through a progressively-structured arrangement, Puerto Rico United will join Sevilla FC Puerto Rico and Club Atlético River Plate Puerto Rico in USL PRO. Barracuda FC of Antigua and Barbuda has also joined USL PRO for 2010.
“We welcome Raul Blanco and Puerto Rico United to USL PRO, and we’re excited about our growing relationship with the Puerto Rico Soccer League,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “Both the level of fan support and the level of play in Puerto Rico continue to grow and we’re looking forward to the participation of three of the PRSL’s top clubs in USL PRO.”
Led by owner Raul Blanco, Puerto Rico United was founded in 2007 and recently competed in the PRSL’s Super Copa DirectTV tournament, which will serves as the qualifier for the 2011 Caribbean Football Union Club Championship.
Puerto Rico United is based in Aguada, Puerto Rico, and plays its home games at 4,000-seat Aguada Stadium. Luis A. Echevarria Santiago serves as mayor of Aguada, a city of more than 40,000 located in the western coastal region and served by nearby Rafael Hernandez International Airport.
“PR United started as an amateur team in 2007 and now we are in USL PRO. We are growing!” Blanco said. “This is a big step for the team and we accept the challenge. Our participation in the 2011 USL PRO season will help raise the levels of professional soccer in Puerto Rico.”
USL PRO will make its debut in 2011 and includes marquee franchises such as the Charleston Battery, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos and Orlando City SC (formerly Austin Aztex). Designed to help ensure the long-term stability of professional soccer in North America below MLS, USL PRO will feature 16 teams in 2011 and will benefit from national television and online broadcast packages. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO will feature an unprecedented six teams with more than a decade of operational experience in 2011, and more than 100 years of combined operational experience.
Blanco led the Puerto Rico United contingent which attended the 2010 USL AGM held recently in Tampa.
“We’re excited to add Puerto Rico United to the roster of Caribbean clubs that will participate in USL PRO starting in 2011,” said USL Senior Director of International Development Francisco Marcos, who has overseen USL’s expansion into the Caribbean. “We are well on our way to achieving our vision for the Caribbean in USL, where we ultimately hope to have as many as eight franchises in what would become a Caribbean conference.”
USL PRO will be led by a Board of Governors responsible for making all major decisions for the league including expansion, competition format and commercial strategy.
The launch of the island-wide School Athletic Football League was also announced recently as part of USL’s growing relationship with the Puerto Rican Football Federation. League champions will be invited to participate in the USL Super Y-League North American Finals beginning in 2011.
This unique new initiative designed to promote the growth of youth soccer in Puerto Rico was originally discussed when USL officials entered into formal discussions with the Puerto Rican Football Federation in April. The relationship between USL and the PRFF is expected to grow in the coming years with a focus on the development of men’s and women’s soccer, starting at the youth level.