Mariners dropped from USL First Division

TAMPA, Fla. – United Soccer Leagues announced the Virginia Beach Mariners USL First Division and Submariners Premier Development League franchises owned by Virginia Beach Soccer, LLC (VBS) have been terminated by USL. As a result, the USL-1 team has been removed from the 2007 schedule and will not be replaced. All players under contract with the Mariners have been released and are free to sign with any team. A decision on the status of the PDL team will be made as early as next week.

“This is an extremely unfortunate situation for everyone involved,” said USL Executive Vice President and COO Tim Holt. “The Virginia Beach Sportsplex is an excellent facility, there is a great core of dedicated fans, and in many ways the Mariners were headed in a positive direction for the first time in several years. To have this happen in the 11th hour has been a stunning development for all, especially given the rise in the quality of ownership across the league the past few years and the stability that has come with it.”

“The recent ownership dispute within VBS left the organization without any source of funding. Over the past 10 days we have spoken with several groups inside and outside of the market about taking over the team in advance of the 2007 season. Yet, without a firm commitment from any group or individual to finance the team for at least the upcoming season the only responsible course of action is to shut the team down for 2007, even if it is the least desirable option. While there will not be professional men’s soccer in Virginia Beach this season, we continue to believe the market can support professional soccer. Although it is our goal to return to the market in 2008 with new ownership for a USL professional team, we will not do so until we are thoroughly convinced that the principals are firmly committed to owning and operating a soccer franchise for the long-term and at a level that will serve to raise the profile of our league and the sport of soccer in the area.”

The removal of the Mariners from the USL First Division alignment results in a revised schedule for the 2007 season, which will see only one home date for the remaining 12 teams changed, and in that case by just one day.

Changes to the Timbers 2007 USL First Division Schedule
The Timbers were scheduled to play the Virginia Beach Mariners twice during the 2007 season. In their absence, the Timbers will face the California Victory, a 2007 expansion club, two additional times.

Replacing the Timbers trip to Virginia Beach on Sept. 2, the Timbers now travel to San Francisco, Calif., on July 7 to play the Victory at Kezar Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.  

The Timbers were scheduled to host Virginia Beach on July 15 at PGE Park, but will now play California. Kickoff remains at 6 p.m. With the changes in the schedule, the Timbers now play California a total of five times during the 2007 season.

Day      Date                Time                Revised Matches       
Sat.      July 7               7 p.m.             Portland @ California 
Sun.    July 15             6 p.m.             California @ Portland 

For more information on USL schedule changes, visit www.uslsoccer.com.