How the USA can do promotion and relegation better than England

BEAU: Riccardo Silva offered MLS $4 billion for media rights if it would institute promotion/relegation? And people like Jeff Carlisle have already done the heavy lifting in reporting what did and didn’t happen? Great! Time to do a quick opinion piece.

BEAU’S CONSCIENCE: What are we, all clickbait now? You know that offer was just a PR stunt. MLS can’t negotiate its media rights for several years, by which both Silva’s team and David Beckham’s proposed team may literally be underwater thanks to climate change and everyone may be watching sports on AmazonTube. 

BEAU: Well aren’t WE Debbie Downer this morning! Come on — we’ve been saying for years that pro/rel talk is just an academic argument until people put their money where their mouths are. Now they are! It’s not just Silva — Peter Wilt is planning a Division 3 league that would evolve into the cornerstone of a pro/rel pyramid. The reasonable voices are winning.

BEAU’S CONSCIENCE: We’ve tried to be reasonable for years. We all know the drill: 

  1. Something “new” happens in the world of pro/rel.
  2. You write a blog post dissecting the nonsense arguments — MLS is conspiring to keep soccer smaller than the NFL, a lack of pro/rel is the only thing keeping the USA from dominating world soccer, etc. — and STILL suggest a way to ease into a pro/rel pyramid.
  3. No one pays attention except Twitter trolls whose lives are so pathetic that they try to goad you into pro/rel arguments months after the fact. And then newbies pop up lecturing you about “Economics 101,” as if you haven’t been following sports business since before these dudes were born.

You’re just trying to stir something up so people will notice your new podcast, you sellout. 

BEAU: You mean Ranting Soccer Dad? It just so happens we’ve booked a guest on promotion/relegation for Aug. 10. 

BEAU’S CONSCIENCE: Is it someone reasonable, at least?

BEAU: It’s a Twitter troll who keeps accusing me of being on the MLS payroll to keep down pro/rel even though it’s been about 15 years since I wrote the MLSNet fantasy column and I keep coming up with plans FOR pro/rel.


BEAU: No, I’m kidding. Geez, lighten up! It’ll be a rare chance to have a *substantive discussion* with someone who is actually doing something to make pro/rel a reality.

BEAU’S CONSCIENCE: Fine. Whatever. And I suppose today you’re going to suggest a modification to your latest pro/rel plan that no one will discuss?

BEAU: Glad you asked! Here goes …

I still like my last plan, especially given the number of viable MLS expansion candidates at the moment. The executive summary:

  • Division 1: 16 teams, single table, no playoffs (see separate Cup competition), bottom three clubs relegated.
  • Division 2: Initially 14-16 teams in one table but eventually splitting into regions with minimal playoffs. Promotion to D1 but no forced relegation to D3, at least not based on a single season’s results. Clubs can always self-relegate if they can’t compete at D2 — this is an alternative to folding.
  • Division 3: The top tier of regional pyramids. D3 clubs must meet professional standards. D1/D2 reserve teams are eligible to play (as in Europe, you pseudo-purist know-nothings). No automatic promotion to D2, but clubs can apply to move up based on performance on and off the field.
  • Division 4: The highest a club can climb while still remaining amateur (which many clubs will opt to do). Some pro (or semi-pro) clubs as well.
  • Then each league can go lower as it sees fit, just as current amateur leagues have multiple tiers.

I believe I mentioned a Cup competition to replace MLS Cup. This will have 12 teams — eight from Division 1, three from Division 2, and the team from Division 3 that progressed the farthest in the Open Cup.

So why does the clickbait headline say we can do pro/rel better than England? Here’s why:

Until recently, England kept a strict barrier between “League” and “Non-League.” The Non-League clubs could apply to replace the last-place League club (92nd on the four-division English ladder), but they rarely were admitted. Now they’re a bit more fluid, with a fifth tier (formerly called the Conference, now called the National League just to confuse everyone) that’s professional-ish.

We can do it better by being more flexible in Division 3 (and to an extent in Division 2). As more clubs are able to move from amateur to professional, we can add more D3 regional leagues.

For decades, professional soccer in England was a zero-sum game. Add one club, and you had to subtract another.

Leaving Division 3 open-ended gives every club a chance to move into the professional ranks when they demonstrate that they’re ready to do so.

And THAT will help youth soccer, too. More professional clubs. More academies.

So we’ll talk about it in more detail on the Ranting Soccer Dad podcast, assuming my conscience doesn’t take revenge somehow for grabbing the third rail of U.S. soccer once again.

Also: I’m doing a survey. If you are a coach or general manager of a USL, NASL, NPSL, PDL, WPSL, UWS, UPSL or high-level USASA team and have not received a survey by the end of the day, please check with your communications manager (to whom I’m emailing the surveys). If that person didn’t receive one, let me know.

The NASL, NPSL, and why there’s no pleasing pro/rel advocates

If you read all my tweets and replies on Twitter, you may have noticed that I’ve eased up a bit on ignoring the crowd that pushes for promotion and relegation in U.S. soccer. It’s intentional. I think we’re starting to see some ideas that go beyond shouting anti-MLS slogans. And given the scarcity of MLS content I’m writing these days, it’s almost like tripping down Memory Lane, like going back to a high school reunion and chatting amiably with the guy who was a total jerk and bully the whole time.

Wait a minute. Scratch that. That guy still doesn’t get it. Hope he gags on the hors d’oeuvres.

And that’s kind of how it is in the pro/rel world. Today’s conversation was a perfect demonstration.

Start with this intriguing story:

So the NPSL, the mostly amateur league that shares unofficial fourth division status with the PDL and recently drew more than 18,000 fans for its final in Chattanooga, would work something out with the NASL, which has long (well, at least in Bill Peterson’s tenure) made noises about wanting promotion/relegation in U.S. soccer.

Easier said than done, of course. The NPSL uses mostly young amateur players, many of them in college. So most of their teams are bound by NCAA restrictions on how they can assemble their teams, maintaining amateur status, and wrapping up the season early so kids can dash back to their college teams for preseason. Then you add U.S. Soccer’s onerous second-division standards (one owner has to have $20 million, which has always struck me as absurd), and you can see a few hurdles.

But if you really want to see promotion/relegation make the transition from “hot-button Internet cult shoutfest issue” to “something that might actually happen,” you’d think this would be good news. And so, consistent with what I’ve said earlier about the best path to pro/rel being a strong NASL forcing a merger, I said the following:

I even went back and dug up my own pro/rel plan:

And so we all joined hands, sang a few songs of praise, and talked about the details of what a future U.S. pro landscape might look like.

Oh, wait. No, we didn’t.

One hint of the problem was a tweet that came in just as I was writing mine:

And indeed, the man who has devoted the last 6-8 years of his life tweeting about pro/rel fantasies was not happy with a proposal to actually talk about actually doing it.

(That said, the NASL tossed cold water on this idea itself:)

But to be fair, he has long insisted that leagues shouldn’t go it alone, and that the federation should drive it. I don’t see why, personally, but he is indeed consistent.

And so is the vitriol I received from elsewhere:

When I have my midlife crisis and form a Husker Du cover band, I might call it “Antiquated Zealotry.”

(And yes, I made a typo. At this point, I was tweeting about as quickly as I could type. That’s not good.)

So he’s not reading what I’m tweeting, he surely didn’t notice that the last substantial piece I wrote about MLS was ripping the league for its stance in collective bargaining, and yet he feels he can sum up my opinions. OK.

Yeah, he clearly skipped my proposal on Brazilian-style state leagues. And my tweet on the NASL/NPSL thing.

I get all this flack from the pro/rel crowd for a few reasons. First, I’ve pointed out a few inconvenient truths on the matter:

1. Soccer was an ignored and often despised sport in this country through much of the 20th century, giving the rest of the world a bit of a head start. Read Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism or the definitive U.S. soccer history Soccer in a Football World for the full story. 

2. The people willing to take the risk to do professional soccer at a strong but sustainable level had to appeal to investors by minimizing risk (I wrote a book that mentions all this, a bit), hence the “single entity” system and cost containment.

3. More investors have bought into MLS with the implicit understanding that they are buying into the USA’s first-division league.

4. Many investors have bought into lower-division leagues with the implicit understanding that they’re aren’t going to jump up to a Division I or Division II budget if they win too many games.

5. Promotion/relegation would be cool, but it’s not necessary. Barcelona isn’t Barcelona because they fear relegation. They fear losing the championship to Real Madrid. As they should. Real Madrid is the club of the old corrupt monarchy. But that’s another rant.

And so on — see all the previous posts.

Second, I have actually engaged with a lot of these people and continue to do so even as most journalists — you might say the saner, more intelligent journalists — have cut off contact.

(I once had someone tell me I should take it as a compliment that these folks go after me instead of Big Name Journalist X because they find me a lot smarter and better than Big Name Journalist X. I’m really not. I just have bad compulsive behavior, as illustrated here:)

But let’s get back to today’s conversation, summing up as follows:

Me: “Hey, neat promotion/relegation idea.”

Them: “Shut up, you MLSbot antiquated zealot turnip walnut.”

The underlying lesson from this conversation:

There is no pleasing the promotion/relegation zealots.

You might say it’s just me, and no matter how many schemes I put forward, no matter how many times I say I really could see the NASL building up with a pyramid that forces a merger with MLS down the road, they won’t listen.

But no. It’s not just me.

These are the people who have to be different. They have to feel superior. They’re the ones who saw R.E.M. have hit songs and make real videos and smirked, “They’ve sold out.” They’re the ones who only like the U.K. version of The Office — not that they’ve ever seen any of the U.S. episodes past Season 1.

Their greatest fear is that someone will do exactly what they want. Because then they’d have to find another cause.

Like Jason Street when he was paralyzed or Tim Riggins when he finished school, they would lose their identity.

And that identity is more important to them than the cause itself.

They know we aren’t likely to see MLS integrated into a promotion/relegation system for all the reason I’ve listed above and more. So they’re safe.

And that’s why, even as we see occasional glimmers of reason in the national pro/rel discussion, we’re a long, long way from any of this being taken seriously.

U.S. soccer’s cluttered amateur/semipro/youth landscape

Summers are getting shorter all the time, aren’t they?

If you’re a soccer player or fan, they certainly are. My county’s school system only wrapped up its school year 30 days ago. And already, a lot of our local soccer teams have finished their seasons.

That’s the reality today for the W-League, WPSL, PDL and NPSL, which try to squeeze competitive seasons, national playoffs and the occasional cup competition into the 10 weeks or so between the end of the college academic year and the time their players are due back on campus for preseason training.

The teams all have different goals. Some are offshoots of youth clubs giving their oldest players another opportunity to play. Some are official or unofficial reserve teams for the pros. Some are Changing the Way You Will Think About American Soccer! That’s a tough task in a 10-game season. (Actually, Nashville FC’s grass-roots ownership plan is a noble experiment.)

There’s no such thing as parity. BCS Clash finished its NPSL season with a goal difference of -105. In 10 games. In the WPSL, Lion Soccer Club (known as Lions Swarm last year) lost a couple of blowouts and was dismissed from the league, with all its games recorded as 3-0 forfeit losses.

Attendance is erratic. Some NPSL teams play in utter obscurity, while Chattanooga FC drew 2,800 for a regional final. The PDL averaged 590 fans leaguewide, driven by nine teams with a median over 1,000. (See’s typically comprehensive figures.) The W-League, which Kenn notes as less of a marketing force than it used to be, had a few teams drawing over 400.

The USL operations (W-League, PDL) are generally sound from operations standpoint. The WPSL is far more chaotic. (“Skipped the playoffs in a dispute with the league” was my summary of FC Dallas in the power rankings two years ago.)

It’s not as if each player gets 10-12 solid games. These teams list anywhere between 25 and 40 players on the roster.

And in some respects, that’s good for players. They might have multiple responsibilities. Braddock Road’s W-League team was basically their Under-18 national (USYSA) title contender with a couple of key additions. Ashley Herndon scored a crucial goal for VSA Heat in the USYSA national championships this week, then another for the Washington Spirit Reserves in the W-League semifinals. VSA Heat played for (and won) the U-19 national title without her Saturday night. Where’s teleportation technology when you need it?

Want to make these seasons even shorter? That’s what would happen if college soccer plays a full-year schedule with a championship going into June, like college baseball.

That college reform plan probably won’t happen — personally, I’d love to see more meaningful spring soccer, but I’d wrap it up at the end of April. As chaotic as summer soccer leagues might be, they serve a valuable function, giving players another opportunity for elite play during their developmental years and giving a few adults (especially grad students) a chance to stay in the game. (Update: Some people are backing a college championship in May rather than June, and the schedule would start later in the summer.)

The problem with all of this — we’re obsessed with national competitions when they’re not necessary.

That mentality has seeped into youth soccer, too. Development Academy, ECNL (Elite Clubs National League), U.S. Youth Soccer national league, U.S. Club Soccer premier leagues and Super-Y League not enough for you? Form your own national league. We’re seeing that now with the formation of another national league, which SoccerWire commenters find quite amusing.

Several WPSL teams already played a national championship this summer, one that was also open to W-League teams. Now they’re playing the league championship.

So some teams are cramming two tournaments into the brief summer window along with league play. Some have been sitting idle for a couple of weeks.

Take away the insistence on national competition, and things get a lot simpler. One national cup per age group should be fine. Then teams can use the rest of their seasons with league play and perhaps a showcase tournament or two.

We can all agree on that, right?

U.S. Open Cup: Top 14 teams and upset history

Through May 23, 2014, lower-division teams have beaten MLS teams 66 times. (MLS teams have won 160.) And based on a whole lot of spreadsheets, we can declare one particular lower-division team the most accomplished team in the Open Cup.

The PDL is 38-87 against non-MLS pro leagues. But other amateur leagues are less successful against D2 and D3: 10-72.

For purposes of these upset lists, I haven’t separated D2 from D3. To my surprise, D2 (A-League/USL-1/USSF D-2/NASL) is 38-12 against D3 (D3 Pro/USL-2/USL Pro) since 1997. But the difference today is debatable. The Cup gives us scant evidence: Since 2010, when USSF D-2 split from the USL, D2 and D3 are 3-3 against each other. But against MLS teams, NASL teams (6-9, 40%) are more successful than USL Pro teams (9-21, 30%).

That’s assuming I didn’t miss anything in copying and pasting all the results from 1996 to 2014 from, cleaning up the data for easy sorting and searching, writing formulas to take each league name into account, etc.

Here is, to the best of my knowledge and spreadsheeting ability, a list of every U.S. Open Cup upset since MLS teams joined in 1996:

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As with the FA Cup, once a top-tier team gets to the later rounds, it gets a bit more serious about the competition. That shows when we look at the quarterfinalists and semifinalists:

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In typical soccer fashion, I’m going to take a whole bunch of data and then make a subjective judgment. I added up all the wins and all the runs, then ranked each team’s accomplishments based on how much they overachieved. In other words, a PDL team beating a couple of pro teams is roughly equivalent to an MLS team reaching the final.

Here goes, in reverse order:

14. Carolina RailHawks (USL-1/USSF D-2/NASL): 13 wins in seven years (through 2013). 1-time semifinalist. 4 wins over MLS teams.

  • 2007 (USL-1): Semifinalist. Beat Chicago Fire.
  • 2012 (NASL): Beat Los Angeles.
  • 2013 (NASL): Quarterfinalist. Beat Los Angeles and Chivas USA.

13. Columbus Crew (MLS): 19 wins, 1 Cup, 2-time runner-up, 1-time semifinalist.

  • 1998: Runner-up
  • 1999: Semifinalist
  • 2002: Champion
  • 2010: Runner-up

12. Kansas City Wizards / Sporting Kansas City (MLS): 18 wins, 2 Cups, 1-time semifinalist.

  • 2002: Semifinalist
  • 2004: Champion
  • 2012: Champion

11. Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-2/USL Pro): 15 wins, 5 over MLS teams.

  • 2007: Quarterfinalist. Beat D.C. United.
  • 2009: Quarterfinalist. Beat New England (away).
  • 2010: Quarterfinalist. Beat New York Red Bulls.
  • 2012: Quarterfinalist. Beat New England and New York Red Bulls.

10. Wilmington Hammerheads (PSL/USL-2/USL Pro): 15 wins, 2 over MLS teams.

  • 2003 (USL Pro): Quarterfinalist. Beat Atlanta Silverbacks  (A-League) 2-1, beat Dallas Burn (MLS) 4-1.
  • 2006: Round of 16, again beating Atlanta 2-1.
  • 2009 (USL-2): Quarterfinalist, beat Carolina RailHawks (USL-1) on PKs after 3-3 tie, beat Chicago Fire (MLS) 1-0

9. Mid-Michigan Bucks / Michigan Bucks (PDL): 12 wins. Two wins over MLS teams; total of nine wins over pro teams.

  • 1997: Beat Wilmington Hammerheads (D3 Pro) 3-2 away.
  • 1999: Beat Austin Lone Stars (D3 Pro) 3-2; beat Minnesota Thunder (A-League) 2-1 away.
  • 2000: Beat New England Revolution (MLS) 1-0 away. Lost to Miami Fusion (MLS) on PKs.
  • 2003: Beat Long Island Rough Riders (PSL) 2-1.
  • 2006: Beat Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL-2) 2-0; beat Cincinnati Kings (USL-2) 2-1.
  • 2012: Beat Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL Pro) 1-0 away; beat Chicago Fire (MLS) 3-2 after extra time.

8. Richmond Kickers (USL top leagues/USL-2/USL Pro): 22 wins. Champions in 1995, the first year of the pro era and the year before MLS launched. 1-time semifinalist.

  • 2000 (A-League): Beat Colorado Rapids.
  • 2001 (A-League): Quarterfinalist
  • 2004 (A-League): Quarterfinalist. Beat D.C. United.
  • 2007 (USL-2): Quarterfinalist. Beat Los Angeles.
  • 2011 (USL-2): Semifinalist. Beat Columbus and Sporting Kansas City.

7. Dallas Burn / FC Dallas (MLS): 27 wins, 1 Cup, 2-time runner-up, 4-time semifinalist.

  • 1996: Semifinalist
  • 1997: Champion
  • 1998: Semifinalist
  • 2002: Semifinalist
  • 2005: Runner-up
  • 2007: Runner-up
  • 2011: Semifinalist

6. Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS): 23 wins, 2 Cups, 2-time runner-up, 2-time semifinalist.

  • 2000: Semifinalist
  • 2001: Champion
  • 2002: Runner-up. Also won MLS Cup.
  • 2003: Semifinalist
  • 2005: Champion. Also won MLS Cup.
  • 2006: Runner-up

5. Charleston Battery (USL top leagues/USL-2/USL Pro): 29 wins, 1-time runner-up, 2-time semifinalist.

  • 1999 (A-League): Semifinalist.
  • 2004 (A-League): Semifinalist. Upset MetroStars (MLS) in round of 16, beat Rochester (A-League) in quarterfinals. Fell to Chicago (MLS) in extra time, just missing the final.
  • 2007 (USL-1): Quarterfinalist.
  • 2008 (USL-1): Finalist.
  • 2009 (USL-1): Quarterfinalist.
  • 2010 (USL-2): Quarterfinalist.

4. D.C. United (MLS): 32 wins, 3 Cups, 2-time runner-up, 4-time semifinalist.

  • 1996: Champion. Also won MLS Cup.
  • 1997: Runner-up. Also won MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield.
  • 2001: Semifinalist
  • 2003: Semifinalist
  • 2006: Semifinalist. Also won Supporters’ Shield.
  • 2008: Champion
  • 2009: Runner-up
  • 2010: Semifinalist
  • 2013: Champion. Had worst record in MLS.

3. Seattle Sounders (A-League/USL-1/MLS): 30 wins, 3 straight Cups, 1-time runner-up, 2-time semifinalist.

We’ll treat the A-League/USL Sounders and the MLS Sounders as one entity here, mostly because the club’s commitment to the Open Cup never wavered.

  • 1996 (A-League): Quarterfinalist
  • 2003 (A-League): Quarterfinalist
  • 2007 (USL-1): Semifinalist
  • 2008 (USL-1): Semifinalist
  • 2009 (MLS): Champion
  • 2010 (MLS): Champion
  • 2011 (MLS): Champion
  • 2012 (MLS): Runner-up

2. Chicago Fire (MLS): 34 wins, 4 Cups, 2-time runner-up, 3-time semifinalist.

  • 1998: Champion. Also won MLS Cup. Club’s first season.
  • 2000: Champion. Also lost MLS Cup final.
  • 2001: Semifinalist
  • 2003: Champion. Also won Supporters’ Shield, lost MLS Cup final.
  • 2004: Runner-up
  • 2005: Semifinalist
  • 2006: Champion
  • 2011: Runner-up

1. Rochester Rhinos (A-League/USL-1/USL Pro): 33 wins, 1 Cup, 1-time runner-up, 1-time semifinalist.

  • 1996 (A-League): Runner-up. Upset Tampa Bay Mutiny in extra time (quarterfinals), upset Colorado Rapids 3-0, lost final to D.C. United.
  • 1999 (A-League): Champion. Four straight wins over MLS teams. 1-0 over Chicago Fire, 2-1 (ET) over Dallas Burn, 3-2 over Columbus Crew and 2-0 over Colorado Rapids.
  • 2004 (A-League): Quarterfinalist
  • 2005 (A-League): Quarterfinalist
  • 2009 (USL-1): Semifinalist


1997: San Francisco Bay Seals (D3) beat two MLS teams (Kansas City Wizards, San Jose Clash) to reach semifinals.

2003: Fresno Fuego (PDL) beat Utah Blitzz (PSL) and El Paso Patriots (A-League) to reach  round of 16, losing to LA Galaxy in quarterfinals. Came back in 2014 with win over Orange County Blues (USL Pro).

2005: Minnesota Thunder (A-League) beat PDL’s Chicago Fire Premier, won a wild 6-4 game in extra time over Real Salt Lake, then beat the Colorado Rapids and Kansas City Wizards (away) to reach semifinals. The year before, the Thunder beat the Los Angeles Galaxy. That’s four wins over MLS teams.

2006: Dallas Roma FC (USASA) beat PDL’s Laredo Heat on PKs, then USL-1’s Miami FC 1-0, then Chivas USA on PKs, falling in fourth round.

2006: Carolina Dynamo (PDL) beat two pro teams: Richmond Kickers (USL-2) in second round, Seattle Sounders (USL-1) in third, setting up Dynamo-Dynamo matchup vs. Houston. As a pro team, reached quarterfinals in 1996.

2007: New England Revolution (MLS) made a rare run in the Cup and won it all. Next best runs: final in 2001, semifinal in 2008.

2012: Cal FC (USASA) beat Wilmington Hammerheads (USL Pro) 4-0 away and Portland Timbers (MLS) 1-0 away.


34 Chicago Fire (2nd in the ranking above)
33 Rochester Rhinos (1st)
32 DC United (4th)
30 Seattle Sounders (3rd)
29 Charleston Battery (5th)
27 Dallas Burn / FC Dallas (7th)
23 Los Angeles Galaxy (6th)
22 Richmond Kickers (8th)
19 Columbus Crew (13th)
18 Kansas City Wizards / Sporting KC (12th)
16 MetroStars / New York Red Bulls
15 Harrisburg City Islanders (11th)
15 Wilmington Hammerheads (10th)
14 New England Revolution
13 Carolina RailHawks (14th)
12 Mid-Michigan Bucks / Michigan Bucks (9th)
12 Minnesota Thunder
12 San Jose Clash / Earthquakes
11 Carolina Dynamo
11 Des Moines Menace
10 Charlotte Eagles
10 Portland Timbers

Corrections? Comments? Commiseration for staring at spreadsheets for so long? Share below.

U.S. Open Cup second round, collated scoreboard

Headlines (see glossary below):

– The NPSL is out. Georgia Revolution fell 3-2 in the “Battle of Atlanta” against the NASL Silverbacks.

– The USASA is out, though Dearborn took Dayton (USL Pro) to extra time before falling 4-1.

– PDL upsets so far: Reading over Harrisburg (USL Pro), Ocean City over Pittsburgh (USL Pro), Des Moines over Minnesota (NASL), Tucson over San Antonio (NASL)

– Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) won the first head-to-head matchup between pro teams, winning the Tampa Bay derby 2-1 and forcing perennial Open Cup power Seattle Sounders to fly cross-country to face them next week. Other MLS teams with long trips: Los Angeles, San Jose, Colorado, Dallas. The NASL’s Atlanta and USL Pro’s Wilmington have long trips the other direction.

– Local derbies in the third round: Richmond-D.C., Columbus-Dayton, Philadelphia-Ocean City, L.A. Blues-Chivas USA

Final scores (home teams listed first):


Richmond (USLP) 4-1 Icon FC (USASA), final
Richmond – D.C. United (again)

Dayton (USLP) 4-1 Dearborn (USASA), final (extra time)
Columbus – Dayton

Reading (PDL) 1-0 Harrisburg City (USLP), final (apologies for having it wrong earlier)
New York (Red Bulls, not FC) – Reading

Ocala (PDL) 1-2 Orlando City (USLP), final
Orlando – Colorado

Charlotte (USLP) 3-0 Seattle Sounders U23 (PDL), final
Charlotte – Chicago

Ocean City (PDL) 1-0 Pittsburgh (USLP), final
Philadelphia – Ocean City

Rochester (USLP) 1-0 GPS Portland Phoenix (PDL), final
Rochester – New England

Austin (PDL) 0-2 Wilmington (USLP), final
Portland – Wilmington

Los Angeles Blues (USLP) 5-1 Ventura County (PDL), final
Los Angeles Blues – Chivas USA

Portland Timbers U23 (PDL) 0-1 Charleston (USLP), final
Charleston – San Jose


Georgia Revolution (NPSL) 2-3 Atlanta (NASL), final
Salt Lake – Atlanta

Carolina Railhawks (NASL) 3-1 Carolina Dynamo (PDL), final
Carolina Railhawks – Los Angeles

Fort Lauderdale (NASL) 1-1 Laredo (PDL), Fort Lauderdale wins 7-6 on PKs
Fort Lauderdale – Dallas

Minnesota (NASL) 0-1 Des Moines (PDL), final
Kansas City – Des Moines

San Antonio (NASL) 2-2 Tucson (PDL), Tucson wins 4-3 on PKs
Houston – Tucson


VSI Tampa Bay FC (USLP) 1-2 Tampa Bay (NASL), final
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Seattle


The divisional structure in the USA/Canada is:

Division 2: NASL, North American Soccer League. (Not the one that featured Pele and so forth in the 70s.)

Division 3: USL Pro, the top flight of the United Soccer Leagues

PDL: Premier Development League, the USL’s summer amateur league. Mostly college players.

NPSL: National Premier Soccer League, an independent amateur league, also operating mostly in summer.

USASA: U.S. Adult Soccer Association, a national body administering most local and regional leagues.