The United Soccer League promised a new, exciting announcement on Tuesday.
Sure enough, the ever-growing American soccer entity unveiled a new structure and brand identity for each of its top three leagues ahead of the 2019 season.
In summary, United States pro soccer’s second division, where the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC currently reside, will be re-branded as USL Championship.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 25, 2018
The USL’s newly forming division three league, will be known as USL League One, while its fourth division tier featuring elite pre-professional players, currently known as Premier Development League (PDL) will be called USL League Two.
Some teams that have competed against the Riverhounds for many years, including Richmond Kickers and Rochester Rhinos, will resurface in USL League One in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“Today’s announcement comes at the dawn of an exciting new era for our sport,” Alec Papadakis, USL CEO, said. “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.”
For the first time in the history of American soccer, the USL left open the possibility of promotion and relegation becoming a reality in the years to come.
In a FAQ page on USL’s website, they addressed this question head on.
“Currently the United Soccer League is focused on establishing a successful new third division in USL League One to help fill out the professional U.S. soccer structure, which is a necessary precursor to any implementation of a promotion and relegation system. That said, the new structure does lend itself well to some form of promotion and relegation in the future.”
The transition to the new brand identity will begin in mid-November, following the conclusion of The USL Cup, and will be fully launched in advance of the 2019 seasons.