In what came as no surprise to those who follow Pittsburgh Riverhounds closely, the USL announced it will be using a two conference alignment with a total of 29 teams in the 2016 season. There will be 14 teams in Eastern Conference and 15 in the Western Conference.
The USL will also announce the league schedule on Tuesday, January 26.
Six new teams will join the USL in 2016, as Bethlehem Steel FC, FC Cincinnati, Orlando City B, Rio Grande Valley FC, the Swope Park Rangers and San Antonio are all set to compete in the new season.
The USL will continue in a two-conference format, with 14 teams making up the Eastern Conference and 15 teams making up the Western Conference. The 30-game regular season will be conducted over 27 weeks, which will kick off on March 25 and conclude on September 25.
Eastern Conference Western Conference
Bethlehem Steel FC Arizona United SC
Charleston Battery Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Charlotte Independence LA Galaxy II
FC Cincinnati OKC Energy FC
Harrisburg City Islanders Orange County Blues FC
Louisville City FC Portland Timbers 2
FC Montreal Real Monarchs SLC
New York Red Bulls II Rio Grande Valley FC
Orlando City B Sacramento Republic FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds Saint Louis FC
Richmond Kickers San Antonio
Rochester Rhinos Seattle Sounders FC 2
Toronto FC II Swope Park Rangers
Wilmington Hammerheads FC Tulsa Roughnecks FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
The team with the best record across both conferences will earn the 2016 USL Regular Season Title. The top eight teams in each conference will then advance to the 2016 USL Playoffs, which will see a single-elimination bracket crown two conference champions. The two conference champions will advance to the 2016 USL Championship.
In 2015, with 24 total teams split with two 12-team conferences, the top six teams in each conference earned playoff bids, including the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (11-9-8, 41 points). The Hounds were the fifth-seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, losing to NY Red Bulls II, 4-2, in extra time in the Quarterfinals at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ in September.