What: El Paso is the latest addition to the United Soccer League, giving the league additional Southwestern presence.
Why it matters: The ownership group, MSSL, has strong ties to Mexico, including minority ownership of a Mexican League soccer team and food franchise ownership in the country by one of its partners, which can help the Division II soccer league gain a foothold in Mexico.
The fast-expanding United Soccer League (@USL) has added its fourth new franchise for 2019 with the news that El Paso, Texas, will join the league. MountainStar Sports Group (MSSG), which is also a minority owner in FC Juaréz of Mexico’s Liga Ascenso, will operate the franchise.
The new El Paso franchise, temporarily known as El Paso USL, gives the league another Southwest member, and one which boasts a population of more than 800,000 on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The city has a AAA minor league baseball team in the El Paso Chihuahuas —also run by MSSG—as well as a top-level Division I athletics program at the University of Texas, El Paso in the nationally prominent Conference USA.
MSSG’s ties to Mexico, via FC Juaréz and Ms. De la Vega-Foster’s properties, can help the USL gain a foothold there.
Additionally, Alejandra De la Vega-Foster, a key member of the ownership group, is the Vice President of Almacenes Distribuidores de la Frontera, owner and operator of convenience stores in Ciudad Juaréz and northern Chihuahua, Mexico. She also owns the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Juarez and holds the franchise rights for La Madeleine Country French Café in El Paso, southern New Mexico, and Arizona.
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Other USL teams in the region include the Phoenix Rising FC, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Las Vegas Lights FC and Reno 1868 FC. The Tampa-based Division II pro soccer league reaches more than 75 million people in its markets.
The addition of a group as in tune to Hispanic marketing as MSSG to its ownership roster makes good sense for the league, which already boasts marketing partnerships with ESPN and SiriusXM. MSSG’s ties to Mexico, via FC Juaréz and Ms. De la Vega-Foster’s properties, can help the USL gain a foothold there.
Josh Hunt, MSSG Chairman and CEO, said in a statement, “Since our inception, improving the quality of life in our region and promoting economic development have been our core objectives. We’re very proud to bring this high level of professional soccer to El Paso and to be a part of the USL.”
Could further expansion for the league, even South of the border, be far behind?
Cover Photo courtesy Ivan Pierre Aguirre / El Paso USL