Whitecaps say bye to USL-1

BOB MACKIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

The Vancouver Whitecaps' road to joining Major League Soccer in 2011 includes a detour to a new league next spring.

Whitecaps, Montreal Impact, Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Miami FC Blues and Minnesota Thunder announced their split from the United Soccer Leagues' First Division Tuesday after a spat with circuit owner NuRock Soccer Holdings. The new league kicks off in April 2010, but the Caps will continue membership in USL's W-League, Y-League and Premier Development League.

Meanwhile, the original home of the North American Soccer League Whitecaps is expected to be reborn next June as a temporary 30,000-32,000-seat stadium for the B.C. Lions. Caps boss Bob Lenarduzzi said the club could play international-calibre friendlies at Empire Bowl next summer, but league matches would remain at Swangard.

"If we're going to start up in Empire (for MLS), which looks more than likely we will, we want that to be fresh and brand new," said Lenarduzzi, the only Cap who played at Empire from 1974 to 1983.

Lenarduzzi said opportunities to host international clubs could be limited by the World Cup. He said dates would be sought with a "top-half" English, Spanish, Italian or German league clubs.


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