United Soccer League Announces 2017 Conference Alignment
30 Teams to Play Expanded 32-Game Schedule; Saint Louis FC Transitions to Eastern Conference
TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League (USL) today announced its structure for the 2017 season, which will feature 30 teams playing an expanded 32-game schedule as the League continues in a two-conference alignment that began in 2015.
“Building momentum off our U.S. Soccer Division 2 designation last week, USL aims to become one of the most globally recognized second division professional soccer leagues in the world and our expansive national footprint for this season will showcase teams in 21 of the top 50 U.S. media markets,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “The 2017 USL Season will feature a total of 495 games in 19 states with a focus on enhanced competition, and strong regional rivalries in both Eastern and Western Conferences.”
League newcomers the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC will play in the USL’s Eastern Conference while expansion Reno 1868 FC will play in the Western Conference. Saint Louis FC will rejoin the Eastern Conference, and both the Eastern and Western Conferences will each have 15 teams.
The 2017 USL regular season schedule will see teams play a 32 matches contested over 30 weeks, with the regular season starting March 24-26 and concluding the weekend of October 13-15. Teams will play two games (one home, one away) against each conference rival. The remaining four games will be played against regional foes. Teams will not face each other more than three times during the 2017 regular season.
The top eight teams in each conference will qualify for postseason play that will include Conference Quarterfinals (Oct. 20-22), Semifinals (Oct. 27-29) and Final (Nov. 3-5). The 2017 USL Cup Final will be played the weekend of November 10-12. The full 2017 USL schedule will be released soon.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
LA Galaxy II
OKC Energy FC
Orange County Blues FC
Phoenix Rising FC
Portland Timbers 2
Real Monarchs SLC
Reno 1868 FC
Rio Grande Valley FC
Sacramento Republic FC
San Antonio FC
Seattle Sounders FC 2
Swope Park Rangers
Tulsa Roughnecks FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
Bethlehem Steel FC
Harrisburg City Islanders
Louisville City FC
New York Red Bulls II
Orlando City B
Ottawa Fury FC
Saint Louis FC
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Toronto FC II
The USL enters the 2017 season with three new teams, and has announced Nashville SC as joining the league in 2018. Additional expansion announcements are expected in the near future.
About United Soccer League
The United Soccer League is the fastest growing professional soccer league in the world with teams in 19 states and three Canadian provinces. Since 2014, the USL has doubled in size and established a sizeable North American footprint with strong ownership, experienced executives and regional rivalries.
The USL prides itself on three key tenets when identifying a potential expansion city. First, a strong local ownership group. Second, a millennial and diverse population. Third, plans for a soccer-specific stadium to showcase the game in the way it was supposed to be, while giving supporters a first-class venue.
In 2016, the USL experienced record growth with a total season attendance of almost 1.5 million, a 33 percent increase from 2015. The average attendance for the league’s top-10 drawing teams was 6,724, a 25 percent increase year-over-year.
Creating an engaging environment for passionate fans, the USL aims to establish all clubs as owners or primary tenants of 8,000-10,000 seat soccer-specific stadiums by 2020. Teams have invested more than $100 million into stadium infrastructure in the last year to enhance the experience for the USL’s passionate fans, 900-plus players and nearly 100 coaches in building a highly sophisticated league.
Expanding its broadcast reach with ESPN and SiriusXM partnerships, USL “Games of the Week” were available this year on ESPN3 to 99 million households. The USL aired more than 500 games last season through its Match Center. Recently, the USL finalized a $10 million investment and partnership with VISTA Worldlink to create USL Productions, which will create more than 1,000 hours of live match coverage for 2017. Additionally, statistical analysis will be powered by Opta – the world’s leading provider of live, detailed sports data – who will manage and deliver in-depth details for all USL games.
Based in Tampa, Fla., the USL supports its teams with operational excellence through 50-plus employees and 16 departments including Analytics, Competition, Creative, Digital, League Operations, Marketing, Merchandise/Licensing, Team Services, USL Productions and more.