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By ESPN Staff

Rebel clubs plan breakaway North American league

MIAMI -- North America will have a new soccer league from April after rebel clubs broke away from the established second tier league to form a new competition.

The seven clubs, previously tied to the United Soccer Leagues (USL), the structure below Major League Soccer, said on Tuesday they had formed a new league and begun the formal process of gaining official recognition from governing bodies.

The seven include USL champions Montreal Impact and the team they beat in the league's final game -- Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Carolina Railhawks, Miami FC and Minnesota Thunder have also split from USL to form the new league along with former USL team the Atlanta Silverbacks and a new team from St. Louis.

A statement from the clubs said they were already in talks with other prospective teams about joining the league.

USL said in a statement of their own that they intended to oppose the breakaway league's registration with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) on the grounds that "there is misrepresentation, interference with USL business operations and substantial debt among the membership of the parties applying for certification".

Although North America has had several failed attempts to launch professional soccer leagues in the past, Montreal president Joey Saputo said he was confident of success.

"This is not your typical new league. Most of our teams have existed for years," he said.

"We have united some of the best owners, teams and markets around a new vision for a professional soccer league in North America," he said.

USL, which was founded in 1986 and has two senior men's divisions as well as a youth and women's structure, recently announced plans for new teams in Canada and Detroit and intends to continue without the rebel teams in 2010.

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