Bascome: US league essential for young players
Andrew Bascome believes the United Soccer League can become an “essential platform” for local players to transition to the next stage of their career.
The former Bermuda coach made the assertion after FC Bascome Bermuda, a team he jointly owns with local businessman Henrik Schroder, was officially announced as a member of the USL League Two yesterday.
The local franchise will compete during the upcoming season in the Mid Atlantic Division, which includes Evergreen FC, Lehigh Valley United, Ocean City Nor'easters, Philadelphia Lone Stars FC, Reading United AC and West Chester United SC.
“With an age focus of 17 to 23, playing in League Two can become an essential platform for Bermudians to transition to the next stage of their football careers,” said Bascome, who is also the team's head coach.
“Our primary goal is to develop the local football community, but we recognise that we can also provide an entertainment outlet for Bermuda and Bermuda football fans alike.”
The USL League Two, formerly the Premier Development League, provides a pathway for players to progress to the professional ranks and boasts member clubs that are owned and operated or in partnership with a professional club.
The league has proven to be a vital stepping stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world, with more than 70 per cent of all selections in the MLS SuperDraft since 2010 having PDL experience, including 66 selections in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
The league enables elite collegiate players with the opportunity to compete at a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility.
“We're thrilled to be a part of the incredible work being done to form a professional soccer pathway in Bermuda,” Joel Nash, the USL League Two vice-president, said.
“The island has always produced talented players, and we're confident that competing in League Two will give those players the chance to shine.”
The league also provides growth opportunities for its coaches, executives and communities.
“What fuels our passion for the sport is our understanding that football matters,” Schroder said. “It connects people and it matters in many aspects of our lives in Bermuda and as global citizens.”
The regular season takes place during the summer from early May to mid-July with each team playing a 14-match schedule against their respective divisional opponents on a home and away basis.
In conferences with three divisions, each division winner, plus the highest-finishing second-place team in the conference, advances to the play-offs in the conference semi-finals. In conferences with two divisions, the top two teams from each division advance to the conference semi-finals.
The play-offs are held in late July, with each conference champion advancing to the national semi-finals and the winners of those matches advancing to the USL League Two Championship in early August.
In addition to league play, League Two teams compete in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup as well as various exhibitions.
Flint City Bucks are the reigning champions.
The Bermuda Hogges were the last local team to compete in the USL. The Hogges pulled out of the PDL a week before the start of the 2013 season due to financial difficulties, bringing the shutters down on their six years as a USL franchise.
The Hogges were owned by local businessman Paul Scope who formed the franchise with the help of former professional players Shaun Goater and Kyle Lightbourne in 2006.