The MLS-bound Vancouver Whitecaps and five other United Soccer Leagues First Division teams have formed a new professional league that will begin playing in April.

The Whitecaps are scheduled to move up to Major League Soccer in 2011. They are joined by teams from Atlanta, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota and Montreal from USL-1. A new club, St. Louis Soccer United, will be part of the seven-team league that does not yet have a name.

The teams formed the new league because they were unhappy with how USL-1 is owned and structured.

"This is not your typical new league," said Joey Saputo, Montreal president and recently appointed league chairman. "Most of our teams have existed for years. We have united some of the best owners, teams and markets around a new vision for a professional soccer league in North America.

The USL-1 owners had threatened to start their own league unless they were given more say in how that league is run. The owners believe only a league owned by its teams can be properly managed.

"We look forward to elevating our teams and league in order to give more opportunities to players, coaches, media and sponsors, entertain our fans and play our role in helping soccer truly recognize its potential in the United States and Canada," said Saputo.

The owners submitted an application for sanctioning of the new league as a Division II Men's Outdoor Professional League by the United States Soccer Federation.

Jeff Cooper, the principal owner of the St. Louis club, stated the league is finalizing plans for a commissioner and that the name and marketing plan for league will be released shortly.

The USL will continue in 2010 with up to 11 teams actively participating in the coming season's play.

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