I really feel for Austin Aztex fans. The rumors of the move from Austin to Orlando that Inside Minnesota Soccer's Brain Quarstad broke out was right on the money. If anyone knows what Austin fans are going through it is us South Florida soccer fans who have been down that road before. The way it was done to Aztex fans seemed like a sneaky exit stage right (or wrong).
The fans didn't even get a chance to help the team find an investor. They had no warning. Did the front office really attempt to find buyers as they claimed? It seems Mr Rawlins had this deal done awhile ago. He just waited for the season to end and bye, bye!
So now its Orlando's team. A team that's headed to the USL Pro, the 3rd division so to speak, though the way they've been posturing it seems USL wants to pretend to be 2nd division. But more on USL Pro later...
Orlando's new team has come out even saying they want to make the jump to MLS! Thats 1st Division folks, so lets just skip 2nd division and jump up to the big leagues! So much for loyalty to USL Pro...
For more on the move to Orlando check out Brant Parson's interview of Phil Rawlins for the Orlando Sentinel
In other news this Monday, the Rochester Rhinos, a recent NASL member team, also decided they would re-join USL. The Rhinos basically relegated themselves and will now play regional soccer in Division 3.
I spoke to a few Rhinos fans and most are devastated by the move. Will this hurt them at the gate? We will see. More on their move to USL Pro HERE
USL's battle with NASL seemed to be over after USL claimed they would not apply for 2nd Division sanctioning. But, the return of the Rochester Rhinos to USL might be viewed as pay back after most 2nd division teams departed USL for NASL. Add to that a rumored Ft Lauderdale team that would enter USL this year and you might think the war is still on! Its no secret NASL is majority owned by Traffic Sports USA who is also the owner of Miami FC (Soon to be Strikers?) Currently playing in... drum roll... Ft Lauderdale.
Yup, it looks like this off season in the lower divisions of U.S. Soccer will be another one for the soap operas! get your popcorn, sit back and enjoy! I'm sure there is more drama to come.
Btw, check out a letter to The Rawlins by the Aztexan