The United Soccer League – also known as USL – has received a re-brand and restructuring with its vision set on the future.
On Tuesday, the USL announced a new name, logo and foundation, some of which might sound familiar to those accustomed to English soccer.
Starting in 2019, the current Division II of professional soccer (previously known as USL) will go by “USL Championship,” followed by Division III (previously known as D3) “USL League One” and Division IV (previously known as the Professional Development League aka PDL) as “USL League Two.”
For those not well versed in American soccer, or soccer in general, every major soccer league in the world is usually supported by lower division leagues. To make it easier, think of the MLB having MiLB and NBA having the NBA G League, all of which are either single-affiliated or owned by a corresponding team in their perspective upper divisions. The same has been going on with soccer in the States, as USL and other leagues have been supporting Major League Soccer. In recent times, there’s been an increase in MLS clubs aligning themselves with USL clubs in particular in order to add more depth to their player pool.
“Today’s announcement comes at the dawn of an exciting new era for our sport,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “The USL has spent the past eight years transforming our league to meet the evolving needs of our team owners, players, coaches, fans and partners. We have established our place in the U.S. soccer landscape while blazing the trail for professional soccer’s future by introducing a new third division, completing the nation’s professional soccer structure.”
“We are repositioning the competition under MLS with a new strategy, new names and logos,” concluded 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.”
As of the 2018 season, 19 USL teams are affiliated to MLS teams and every MLS team but Orlando City SC, Minnesota United FC, Columbus Crew SC, and New England Revolution has a USL affiliate.
The league has also approved several other expansion locations for future seasons in Austin, Birmingham, Memphis, Chicago, and Oakland.
I’m glad to see American soccer finally being serious about building a solid foundation. Ultimately, the USL is creating a systematic funnel to Major League Soccer, something we’ve been missing since the start. The “path to pro” is now finally more in synch. With this, the dream is to find the next Christian Pulisic or the next Alphonso Davies.
If you’ve been around long enough, i’m sure you were tired of keeping track of the USL, USL DII, PDL, NASL and NPSL, too.
It also seems to me there might be a glimmer of hope for all of those promotion/relegation fans out there that, for some reason, need that craving fulfilled. With three leagues, I don’t see why pro/reg couldn’t transition into USL in the upcoming years.
Not a big fan of the names, but a huge fan of the vision for the future.