The Sale of an MLS Franchise Could Impact USL


The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group’s majority stake in Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo has been a long time coming. Two years ago, a deal could not be reached between AEG and Leslie Alexander, owner of the Houston Rockets. Since that time, AEG has reportedly continued to seek a local investor to whom the franchise could be sold.

Indications of an imminent sale came last Saturday.

Once the transaction is finalized, gone will be the days when a single ownership group has control of more than team in MLS. AEG used to own MLS franchises in six cities. After selling the Dynamo, AEG will left with only the Los Angeles Galaxy.

While the sale of the Houston Dynamo might bring some satisfaction to those who follow America’s top-flight of professional soccer, it could potentially be the cause of consternation for those whose focus is on the USL, especially fans of Rio Grande Valley FC. The Dynamo and the Toros had previously announced an agreement for a hybrid affiliation, unique in the American soccer landscape. It is conceivable that a new Dynamo ownership group would not fancy the novel affiliation arrangement with Rio Grande Valley.

A source within RGVFC, however, confirmed that the sale does not impact the future of the USL team or its development agreement with the Dynamo, which is superlative news for soccer fans in southern Texas. It is also a tacit confirmation that AEG has completed, or is about to complete, the sale of its holdings in the Houston Dynamo.

The current situation with Houston and Rio Grande Valley provides a foretaste of what potential investors need to consider ahead of acquiring majority ownership of an MLS franchise. Eleven USL teams share ownership groups with MLS outfits. If one of those eleven ownership groups decides to sell its stake an MLS club, it stands to reason that the USL operation will be included as a package deal.

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