To fully track this one, you'll likely need to review our initial story of the saga. Here's a quick timeline of events:
- MAR 2021 - Texas United launches in DFW and announces MLSNext youth league affiliation
- MAY 2021 - Texas United announces tryouts for its youth academy
- JUN 2021 - Dallas Texans and Texas United partners to field teams into MLSNext platform
- NOV 2021 - An official complaint is filed with MLSNext office against Texas United, prompting a suspension from all competition, gives December deadline to comply with registration of independent rosters.
- JAN 2022 - Texas United is removed from MLSNext schedules completely
As mentioned before, the entire situation stemmed from the MLSNext office requiring each club to have it's own independent staff and players to form teams for it's platform. Due to the partnership with Dallas Texans, MLSNext officials simply found Texas United to be non-compliant to its standards.
Who's to blame?
While Texas United were found to be out of compliance, from our independent investigation, we found them to be forthcoming and openly engaged in a partnership with Dallas Texans. This was very apparent to most within the DFW market who cared to take note. So it leaves us asking the simple question of : How could the MLSNext office not be aware?
From what we now know, the MLSNext administration staff is very small ( less than 10 employees). While on the surface this doesn't seem like a huge deal, with MLSNext being in it's inaugural season during 2021, we could also make the assumption that such a small staff was stretched pretty well in a few directions. We could also assume that a very large percentage of the focus of said staff was placed on league growth. It is from this perception, I would speculate that focus of growth might have caused the small inexperienced staff to overlook certain things that were seemingly apparent about Texas United's youth academy operations. We'll let our readers decide if this was greed or not, but I'm simply saying that MLSNext's administration failed to do their due diligence to ensure compliance prior to acceptance. This lax approval played a very large role in creating this scenario for Texas United families.
Was it really that big of deal, or is there something more happening?
We can't ignore the elephant in the room any longer. The alliance between MLS and USL ended in a split back in June 2021, as MLS has launched its own new minor league platform: MLSNext Pro. Rumors are beginning to circulate that several USL academies are facing pressure to join MLS' new league, officially ditching any affiliation with USL. Obviously there is resistance and so a few USL academies, much like Texas United, are being sanctioned by MLSNext for various but seemingly minor issues due to this friction. We have no way of verifying this at the moment, but the timeline of this sequence of events, and just how they might play a role in the decision to oust Texas United, is worth consideration. At-least one source with Texas United believes, so as the source provided us this quote:
"..I've spoken with some of my USL buddies and affiliates, and they're [MLS] coming after us now. They're now wanting all of us to switch to their new platform.....not only do they want the youth business, they now want the entire minor league business."
Considering the MLS has now positioned themselves to be in direct competition with USL's minor league platform, it would appear that every USL academy, currently playing MLS Next, will face the same dilemma. As for Texas United, their plan currently is to both compete within the USL professional ranks, and to continue developing a full youth academy, which will compete in the USL Academy youth platform. We were told by Texas United officials that every kid who participated within their youth platform has a league to play, and so the kids were put first in this transition. This is great to hear and I believe they've done their part to end the transition peacefully and move forward. Yet, the questions remain for MLS : Was this complaint really about shared rosters, or just a pressure point to force a club into allegiance? Is Texas United only really out, because they wouldn't move their entire club into the platform?