BY LYNDON LITTLE
VANCOUVER — Even though the Vancouver Whitecaps are not yet definitely out of the United Soccer Leagues for next season, the team’s continued membership in that organization is looking less likely every day.
In an interview with Montreal radio station CKAC Wednesday, USL CEO Alec Papadakis said negotiations with the several existing USL First Division clubs considering forming a breakaway circuit are over and that both Canadian teams — the Whitecaps and the Montreal Impact — days in the USL-1 are over.
The Whitecaps have one more year to go before joining Major League Soccer in 2011.
“The negotiations are finished,” said Papadakis. “We decided to continue our preparations for the season 2010 with the teams which wished to remain with us. I would like to thank the two Canadian teams, the Whitecaps and the Impact, for all that contribution to the USL for the past few years.”
The USL later issued a statement it called “further elaboration.”
“While the statements made in the earlier interview were accurate in that we have ceased negotiations with the (breakaway) Team Owner’s Association as a group, we remain in dialogue with certain individual TOA teams about their possible participation in USL-1 for 2010. We are open to the return of the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps to USL-1 for 2010; however, we continue to move forward with our preparations for next season.”
While he maintains any statement that his team is definitely out of the USL-1 for 2010 are inaccurate, Whitecaps’ president Bob Lenarduzzi acknowledged Wednesday his team and the TOA are continuing plans to formalize a new circuit. He said the TOA is still pursuing a new league alternative and that, by the end of the week, will have made an application to the U.S. Soccer Federation to grant them new league status.
“While it’s true we haven’t been in dialogue with the USL we have never been told we wouldn’t be welcome back nor have we made a decision that we will be back,” he said. “We’re still in limbo.”
Teams in the TOA — which also includes other USL-1 club such as the Carolina RailHawks, Miami FC and the Minnesota Thunder — are unhappy with the ownership structure of the USL-1 and would like to be in a league controlled by the member teams themselves. The TOA was formally established in January of 2008.
Lenarduzzi maintains it’s feasible for the breakaway group to have a new league up and running in time for next season.
“One way or another the Whitecaps will be playing soccer next season,” he said.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service