Whitecaps leaving USL

BOB MACKIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

The finalists from the United Soccer Leagues' First Division championship are splitting from North America's second division.

The Montreal Impact wrestled the trophy away from the 2008 champion Vancouver Whitecaps on Oct. 16, but Sun Media has learned that they will join forces in a breakaway league to be announced Tuesday at 9 a.m. Eastern.

The Impact and Whitecaps are among the six-city Team Owners Association formed in 2008 to seek more power within USL-1. The Impact, Whitecaps, Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Miami FC Blues, Minnesota Thunder, St. Louis Soccer United and Tampa Bay Rowdies went public with their grievances Aug. 31 after Nike sold USL to NuRock Soccer Holdings, whose principals do not hold a franchise.

The Whitecaps were already preparing to leave USL-1 for Major League Soccer in 2011. The RailHawks, Blues, Thunder and Impact were to continue in USL-1 in 2010 when Tampa Bay was set to join. Atlanta was the first team to withdraw from USL-1 after 2008. St. Louis, which operates a Women's Professional Soccer franchise, is planning a men's club.

USL-1 finished 2009 with 11 franchises. League officials met Nov. 4 in Beaverton, Ore. at Nike headquarters to plan for 2010. A league news release said Austin Aztex, Cleveland City Stars, FC New York, Puerto Rico Islanders, Portland Timbers, Rochester Rhinos and Rowdies owners attended, along with representatives of expansion teams in Ottawa, Edmonton, Baltimore and Detroit.

Meanwhile, the Whitecaps are expected to announce they will play some or all of their 2010 home games in a temporary stadium at the former site of Empire Stadium. The original North American Soccer League Whitecaps shared the Pacific National Exhibition venue with the Canadian Football League's B.C. Lions from 1974 to 1983 before moving to B.C. Place Stadium.

The Whitecaps were reborn in 1987 as the Canadian Soccer League's Vancouver 86ers at Swangard Stadium, an amateur sports venue in suburban Burnaby.

B.C. Place is closing after the 2010 Winter Olympics to complete a half-billion-dollar facelift that includes a new retractable roof.


Photos