MLS “2” sides will always be used like this. Deal with it.

The purpose of MLS “2” sides is key when discussing MLS loans down to USL Championship.

As you likely saw on Twitter yesterday and today, the USL Championship community is fired up about multiple MLS players being loaned down from Seattle Sounders to Tacoma Defiance for their win vs. Sacramento Republic FC. Fans, podcasters, writers, and everyone in between are outraged because Defiance had legitimate MLS rotation players, including long-time first team starters Will Bruin and Roman Torres, at their disposal vs. a USL Championship side. But, I’m here to tell you something…that’s going to continue to happen and I have zero issue with it.

My stance is simply two-fold. Let’s look at the first, obvious angle. It’s not at all against the rules. These affiliation deals were set up with the intent of having players travel back and forth between MLS and USL Championship.

The second point on this is the purpose of an MLS “2” side. The primary use for these affiliates is developing young players to see if you can find MLS talent. The secondary use is to get competitive minutes for first team players that need it, whether that’s due to injury rehab or to shake off the rust of sitting on the bench.

I understand that in an ideal world, we would have a perfect league where the only purpose was winning. In case you didn’t realize, we do not live in an ideal world (R.I.P to Nipsey Hussle), in soccer or general. No, we don’t want the USL Championship looked at as a “minor league” for MLS. But, the harsh reality is that it’s currently a second division league and originally chose to affiliate with Major League Soccer years ago and continues to do so each season. Until one, or both, of those change, this will happen. If Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are both injured and the New York Yankees send them down to the Double-A Trenton Thunder to get some at-bats, I can’t be mad if they each hit bombs vs. my beloved Akron Rubberducks. That’s just the nature of the beast. I may be annoyed as a fan, but that’s the design of the league. The teams will always do what is best for their organization and the players that drive it.

Obviously, this Seattle-Tacoma instance is not the first time we’ve seen something like this. Not even close. Personally, I was in Kansas City in 2016 when RGVFC were set to face Swope Park Rangers on an off-weekend for MLS. To keep their guys fresh, Sporting KC sent down more than five rotational players for the match. You know what the Toros did? They welcomed the challenge and beat Swope/Sporting KC 2-0 that night. If Sacramento Republic had won the match yesterday, this would still be a talking point but less outrage. Covering the Toros since their inception, I’ve seen key Houston Dynamo players use minutes with the Toros over the club’s affiliation history. Two examples for that would be Juan David Cabezas last year and in this past weekend Toros’ loss and AJ DeLaGarza when rehabbing a knee injury last season, as you can see in the main picture, ironically against Seattle Sounders FC 2.

Simply put, I have zero issue with this practice of sending players down to a USL affiliate. I know I am in the minority, I respect the other side’s point of view, but I don’t see this as such a hot button issue. Let the Twitter debate continue…

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.