Friday, March 26, 2010
TAMPA, FL — United Soccer Leagues has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Puerto Rico Soccer League for the purpose of exploring professional and youth soccer initiatives, USL Senior Director of International Development Francisco Marcos announced. The arrangement was formalized Friday in San Juan, Puerto Rico by Marcos and PRSL President Miguel Roca. The initiative is supported by the Puerto Rican Football Federation, whose President Joe Serralta was on hand to witness the signing and has been a strong advocate for advancing Puerto Rican soccer through USL.
USL and the PRSL will explore the creation of a USL Caribbean Division including teams from Puerto Rico and other Caribbean member associations of CONCACAF. At least four teams currently competing in the PRSL would be included in the new division, with the specifics of the competition format to be determined.
Also being discussed is the possibility of current PRSL clubs joining the USL professional divisions. USL is working closely with the Puerto Rico Islanders, one of the most successful club teams in CONCACAF, to structure the partnership in a manner that builds upon their achievements in growing soccer on the island.
At the youth level, the inclusion of the top Puerto Rican team from each of the boys’ U13-U17 age brackets (as designated by the PRSL and Puerto Rican Futbol Federation) in the Super Y-League North American Finals is also being considered. Should an agreement be reached, it is expected that a Puerto Rico division of the SYL would be established with its annual champion qualifying for the SYL Finals, as is consistent with other regions.
“Puerto Rico and many of the other Caribbean nations offer a wealth of intriguing possibilities and we’re excited about the directions the negotiations could take,” Marcos said. “With the success the Puerto Rico Islanders have experienced in USL, not to mention the incredible amount of fan support they have received, we feel this is a natural progression for USL. Having a larger presence in the Caribbean will also complement our efforts to create international partnerships at the club level, as it brings a significant number of new players to the attention of potential European partners.”
Founded in 2008, the Puerto Rico Soccer League features nine teams competing for regular season and playoff championships. Governed by the PRFF, PRSL teams are eligible to compete in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Championship to earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. Current PRSL teams include: Academia Quintana and San Juan Atletico in San Juan, Bayamon FC, Caguas Huracan, Gigantes de Carolina, Guaynabo Fluminense, River Plate Ponce, Juncos Sevilla and Tornados de Humacao.
“We’re excited about the possibility of partnering with an established and respected organization such as USL,” PRSL President Miguel Roca said. “With the success the PRSL has enjoyed, we expect this relationship to continue the impressive growth of soccer in Puerto Rico.”
The reigning PRSL regular season champion is River Plate Ponce while Bayamon FC took home the 2009 playoff title. River Plate Ponce and Bayamon FC have already advanced to the second round of the current CFU Championships. CFU Vice President Colin Klass was on hand for the gathering as well as to attend the First Round matches hosted by Puerto Rico.