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USL Championship alignment announced; Hounds in 8-team Atlantic Division

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

USL Championship alignment announced; Hounds in 8-team Atlantic Division

USL Championship today announced its league alignment for the 2021 regular season.

As anticipated by Pittsburgh Soccer Now, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will be part of an eight-team grouping in the Atlantic Division of teams along the Eastern seaboard, as it appears that the USL Championship opted to try to divide up its 31-team league into four divisions almost lining up by time-zones.

The Atlantic Division (or should we call it the ‘Atlantic 8’) will include:

  • Charleston Battery
  • Charlotte Independence
  • Hartford Athletic
  • Loudoun United FC
  • Miami FC
  • New York Red Bulls II
  • Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies

The league will feature 31 teams across four divisions and two conferences in the upcoming season, with the clubs set to embark on a 32-game regular-season schedule that will be conducted over 27 weeks.

As previously announced, the Championship’s regular season will begin on or about May 1st, while employing a flexible start date that allows clubs to begin play anywhere between April 24th and May 15th.

The four divisions are aligned across the country producing the Atlantic, Central, Mountain and Pacific Divisions. The Atlantic and Central Division will make up the Eastern Conference, while the Mountain and Pacific Divisions will make up the Western Conference.

The defending Eastern Conference Title-holder Tampa Bay Rowdies will enter the new season in the Atlantic Division, where they are joined by in-state rival Miami FC, 2020 Championship Playoffs clubs the Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, Hartford Athletic and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, and Loudoun United FC and the New York Red Bulls II.

Six-time Eastern Conference Finalist Louisville City FC leads the Central Division, where it is joined by local rival Indy Eleven and the trio of Atlanta United 2, Birmingham Legion FC, and Memphis 901 FC. Oklahoma rivals FC Tulsa and OKC Energy FC also join the Central Division, which is completed by Sporting Kansas City II.

Back-to-back Western Conference Finalist El Paso Locomotive FC leads the quartet of Texas clubs in the Mountain Division, with Austin Bold FC, Rio Grande Valley FC and San Antonio FC set to compete for the Copa Tejas throughout the campaign. The lone seven-team division is completed by Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, New Mexico United and Real Monarchs SLC.

Defending Western Conference Title-holder Phoenix Rising FC enters the campaign as part of the Pacific Division, where it will square off with the Championship’s five California-based clubs – the LA Galaxy II, newcomer Oakland Roots SC, Orange County SC, Sacramento Republic FC and San Diego Loyal SC. Las Vegas Lights FC and Tacoma Defiance complete the Pacific Division lineup.


2021 USL Championship Conference Alignment

Eastern Conference        

Atlantic Division                                                               
Charleston Battery
Charlotte Independence
Hartford Athletic
Loudoun United FC
Miami FC
New York Red Bulls II
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Tampa Bay Rowdies

Central Division                                                                
Atlanta United 2
Birmingham Legion FC
FC Tulsa
Indy Eleven
Louisville City FC
Memphis 901 FC
OKC Energy FC
Sporting Kansas City II


Western Conference

Mountain Division

  • Austin Bold FC
  • Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
  • El Paso Locomotive FC
  • New Mexico United
  • Real Monarchs SLC
  • Rio Grande Valley FC
  • San Antonio FC

Pacific Division

  • LA Galaxy II
  • Las Vegas Lights FC
  • Oakland Roots SC
  • Orange County SC
  • Phoenix Rising FC
  • Sacramento Republic FC
  • San Diego Loyal SC
  • Tacoma Defiance

During the regular season, each team will play its division opponents four times – twice home, twice away. In the Atlantic, Central and Pacific Divisions, the four remaining games will be played against regional or cross-conference opponents. In the Mountain Division, the remaining eight games will be played against regional or cross-conference opponents.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for competition-related announcements on home openers for the 2021 USL Championship season, the 2021 ESPN national broadcast schedule, and the full 2021 regular season schedule.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Pittsburgh Division I College Soccer Schedule (Spring 2021)

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