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.
The conference alignment will be:
|Western Conference||Eastern Conference|
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
|Bethlehem Steel FC|
|LA Galaxy II||Charleston Battery|
|OKC Energy FC||Charlotte Independence|
|Orange County Blues FC||FC Cincinnati|
|Phoenix Rising FC||Harrisburg City Islanders|
|Portland Timbers 2||Louisville City FC|
|Real Monarchs SLC||New York Red Bulls II|
|Reno 1868 FC||
Orlando City B
|Rio Grande Valley FC||Ottawa Fury FC|
|Sacramento Republic FC||Pittsburgh Riverhounds|
|San Antonio FC||Richmond Kickers|
|Seattle Sounders FC 2||Rochester Rhinos|
|Swope Park Rangers||Saint Louis FC|
|Tulsa Roughnecks FC||Tampa Bay Rowdies|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2||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.