On the heels of learning of its designation as a provisional U.S. Soccer Division 2 designation on Friday, the United Soccer League (USL) announced its structure for the 2017 season on Monday.
The 2017 season will feature 30 teams, including the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 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 regular season will 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 (last year — the schedule was released in late January — so there’s a chance they will be ahead of this).
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.
The Riverhounds already have nearly a full-roster of players signed, and will be starting training together in the coming weeks.
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