The United Soccer Leagues have rebranded all three of its divisions with a very English feel under the United Soccer League banner.
The USL’s D-2 side is now the USL Championship, USL D-3 is now USL League One, and the Premier Development League is USL League Two.
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If you’re thinking the structure melds itself nicely to the idea of promotion and relegation in American soccer, the USL has a handy FAQ for you:
Currently the United Soccer League is focused on establishing a successful new third division in USL League One to help fill out the professional U.S. soccer structure, which is a necessary precursor to any implementation of a promotion and relegation system. That said, the new structure does lend itself well to some form of promotion and relegation in the future.
That’s not a no, though USL would still not be an open system and it’s hard to see how the PDL (now League Two) could make that jump considering the majority of its current players are bound by the current NCAA window.
The naming of the divisions along the Football League model met with some derision online, but it’s a familiar tune for soccer fans around the globe.
“We are repositioning the competition under MLS with a new strategy, new names and logos,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “As we look to the future, the USL is ready to put its fingerprints on U.S. Soccer’s drive toward becoming the best in the world, and its pursuit of winning a FIFA Men’s World Cup.”
The USL’s D-III project will have at least 10 teams for its inaugural season next summer.
That’s one of the details from the league’s Tuesday announcement that it had applied to the United States Soccer Federation for Division III sanctioning.
The deadline for sanctioning applications is Wednesday.
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Already announced as USL D-III teams are Greenville Triumph, South Georgia Tormenta FC, FC Tucson, Toronto FC II, Chattanooga Pro Soccer, and Madison Pro Soccer.
USL CEO Alec Papadakis says the league is aiming for 24 teams by its third campaign in 2021, and says the other four teams are in “proven” and “thriving” markets.
“As a professional league, we are committed to providing a thrilling experience for fans and a top-notch experience for players – and a proper stadium plays a major role in that experience,” Papadakis continued. “USL Division III features two clubs – South Georgia Tormenta FC and Greenville Triumph SC – building new soccer-specific stadiums, equating to more than $30 million in construction and design, and much more in local economic impact. The league also features clubs utilizing and renovating existing infrastructure to provide the best experience while revitalizing community assets.”
Pure speculation, but could the league be adding some of the top PDL teams or some of USL or MLS-2 sides? Charleston Battery, Swope Park Rangers, clubs of that ilk could join, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Rochester Rhinos return from hiatus in the division.