Rather than try and mend fences and keep the momentum that the USL has built up over the last few years, the league's new owners decided instead to douse a conflict with gasoline and strike a match. On Friday, USL's new management sent an e-mail to players on the Carolina Railhawks, the Minnesota Thunder, and Miami FC informing them that they were no longer under contract with their clubs per the strict terms of the USL standard player contract. That includes U.S. U-20 National Team center back Gale Agbossumonde; former DC United alums Rod Dyachenko and Quavas Kirk; and the captain of the National Champion Maryland Terps, Rich Costanzo.
This would seem to be an out and out disaster for the league as Carolina was one of the better franchises in the USL1. It would also seem to be the beginning of a string of bad news that may overshadow the enjoyable theater of the USL1 playoffs, captured perfectly by the second leg of one of the semifinals broadcast tonight on the Fox Soccer Channel, with Portland falling just short at home against the Whitecaps. As Portland and Vancouver matriculate to the MLS in 2011 (and Montreal hopefully not far behind), what the league looks like today will certainly not be what it looks like (if it exists at all) three years from now. This is not good news for fans of the sport in the U.S. and Canada, as the USL has done a remarkable job of stoking interest in soccer in places that the MLS cannot reach.
But, setting aside the survival of the USL, DC United is desperate to improve its backline. Although this declaration of war probably clears the way for Agbossumonde to head Europe, once the FO fires Soehn it ought to try everything within its power (and within the rules, since I have never tried to understand the MLS's convoluted acquisition guidelines) to sign him. And, while they are at it, bring Costanzo in for a look.