USL League One

Last updated

USL League One
USL League One vert dark logo.svg
Organizing body United Soccer League
FoundedApril 2, 2017;5 years ago (2017-04-02)
First season 2019
CountryUnited States
Confederation CONCACAF
(North American Football Union)
Number of teams12
Level on pyramid 3
Domestic cup(s) U.S. Open Cup
Current champion(s) South Georgia Tormenta FC (2022)
Current regular
season title
Richmond Kickers (2022)
Most championships Greenville Triumph SC
North Texas SC
Union Omaha
South Georgia Tormenta FC
(1 title each)
Most regular
season titles
North Texas SC
Greenville Triumph SC
Union Omaha
Richmond Kickers
(1 title each)
TV partners ESPN+
YouTube
Website uslleagueone.com
Current: 2022 USL League One season

USL League One (USL1) is a professional men's soccer league in the United States that had its inaugural season in 2019. The Division III league is operated by United Soccer League, the same group that operates the Division II USL Championship and other leagues. As of 2023, the league has 12 teams who play 30 regular season games, followed by playoffs.

Contents

History

The USL Championship was granted second division sanctioning by the United States Soccer Federation in January 2017, leaving the third tier of American soccer unoccupied. From 1996 to 2009, the United Soccer League operated leagues at the lower divisions under various names, including the USL Second Division, and the second division as USL First Division. [1] On April 2, 2017, the USL announced that it would launch a new third division league in 2019, with a minimum of eight clubs and lower requirements than the second division USL. [2] [3] The new league had the temporary name USL Division III (USL D3). [2] The league announced that they would target cities with a population of 150,000 to one million, mostly in cities currently without a professional team. [4]

In the following months, the league began searching for cities and markets in which to locate new member teams. From April 26 to May 3, 2017, league vice president Steven Short toured the southeast region of the United States, stopping in the cities of Lexington, Kentucky, Knoxville, Tennessee, Asheville, North Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina. [5] After the closing of the tour, the league announced a possible plan for Tormenta FC, a Premier Development League team from Georgia, to join the league. [6] A few weeks later, league executives announced they would be visiting the Midwest area in the United States between May 22 and 26, stopping in Dayton, Ohio, Toledo, Ohio, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lansing, Michigan, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. [7] After the original tour concluded, Vice President Short visited Des Moines, Iowa to meet with the Des Moines Menace of the Premier Development League to join the league. [8] Preceding the tour of the Midwest, Short visited two more cities in North Carolina: High Point and Fayetteville. Following the tour, Short announced potential plans to build a new multi-purpose stadium in High Point and had positive outlooks on potentially sharing a J. P. Riddle Stadium with the Fayetteville SwampDogs, or the ballpark for the Fayetteville Woodpeckers that ultimately opened in 2019 as Segra Stadium. [9]

The unveiling of the first founding member, South Georgia Tormenta FC, took place on January 25, 2018. [10] This was followed by FC Tucson on February 6, [11] [12] Greenville Triumph SC on March 13, [13] [14] and Madison, Wisconsin on May 17. [15] Toronto FC II of the USL was announced on July 2, [16] and Chattanooga, Tennessee was announced on August 1. [17]

On August 22, 2018, Rochester Stadium Operations, LLC announced that the Rochester Rhinos will be stepping down from the USL Championship and joining League One in 2020. [18] On September 11, 2018, the league announced that Richmond Kickers would also be dropping down from Championship to League One due to financial difficulties competing in the higher league. [19] On October 8, 2018, Penn FC, another long-time USL member, announced they would follow Rochester in stepping down to League One in 2020. [20] On October 10, the Lansing City Council unanimously approved a deal for the new Lansing Ignite FC team to begin USL League One play at Cooley Law School Stadium in the inaugural 2019 season. [21] On October 2, 2018, the tenth and final founding member was revealed to be the reserve team of FC Dallas. Four days later, the club unveiled its branding as North Texas SC.

The league filed for Division III status with the USSF on August 14, 2018. Ten founding teams were listed in the application. [22] [23] On December 14, 2018, USSF voted to provisionally sanction League One as a Division 3 league for 2019. [24] [ non-primary source needed ][ better source needed ] The league currently shares Division III status with MLS Next Pro and the National Independent Soccer Association. [25]

The first League One game was played on March 29, 2019, when Tormenta FC defeated Greenville Triumph SC 1–0 before a crowd of 3,519 at Eagle Field in Erk Russell Park. Alex Morrell scored the first goal in the 72nd minute. [26] [27]

On May 1, 2019, an Omaha, Nebraska team to start play in 2020 was unveiled. [28] On October 9, 2019, it was announced that both the New England Revolution and Inter Miami CF would be placing reserve teams in the league, bringing the total number of teams for the 2020 season to 12 teams. [29] On October 21, 2019, it was announced that one of its inaugural teams, Lansing Ignite FC, would fold after its first and only season in existence. [30]

On October 28, 2020, USL announced that Fort Wayne FC would join USL League Two as an expansion side for the 2021 season, with a plan to compete in the league for two seasons before joining League One for the 2023 season. [31]

On June 21, 2021, Major League Soccer announced the creation of a new professional soccer league, MLS Next Pro, which began play in 2022 and would host all of MLS's reserve teams along with some independent teams. [32] Fort Lauderdale CF, New England Revolution II, North Texas SC and Toronto FC II all joined MLS Next Pro after the 2021 League One season. [33] Former League One side Orlando City B joined MLS Next Pro for the inaugural 2022 season following a hiatus that began after the club completed the 2020 League One season. [33] Rochester New York FC, formerly known as Rochester Rhinos, announced on December 5, 2021, that the club would be joining MLS Next Pro as its first independent club. [34] Rochester had announced in 2018 their intentions to join League One for the 2020 season, though stadium delays and other financial issues kept the club on hiatus for four years. [35] [36] On October 5, 2021, the USL announced it had awarded Lexington Pro Soccer an expansion team for the 2023 season. It would be League One's first club based in Kentucky. [37] The club's identity was revealed as Lexington Sporting Club on March 22, 2022. [38]

Central Valley Fuego FC, Charlotte Independence and Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC began play in 2022. [39] [40] [41] On June 3, 2022, USL announced that they had granted a group based out of Wilmington, North Carolina the exclusive rights to pursue a League One expansion team for the area with the goal of joining in 2024. Wilmington had been the home of long time USL club Wilmington Hammerheads FC, who played in various USL leagues from 1996 until 2017. [42] On July 12, 2022, USL announced that a newly formed club, Santa Barbara Sky FC, would be joining League One for the 2024 season. [43] It would be the league's second club in California, joining Central Valley Fuego. Following the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, FC Tucson announced a self-relegation back to USL League Two. [44] Shortly after FC Tucson announced their self-relegation, One Knoxville SC announced they would turn professional and join League One for 2023, following a successful debut season that saw them reach the USL League Two conference finals. [45]

Teams

The league will have 12 teams participating in the 2023 season. [22]

TeamCityStadiumCapacityFoundedJoinedHead coach
Current teams
Central Valley Fuego FC Fresno, California Fresno State Soccer Stadium1,00020202022 Flag of Mexico.svg Martín Vásquez
Charlotte Independence Charlotte, North Carolina American Legion Memorial Stadium 10,50020142022 Flag of the United States.svg Mike Jeffries
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC East Ridge, Tennessee CHI Memorial Stadium 5,50020182019 Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Obleda
Forward Madison FC Madison, Wisconsin Breese Stevens Field 5,00020182019 Flag of the United States.svg Matt Glaeser
Greenville Triumph SC Greenville, South Carolina Legacy Early College Field 4,00020182019 Flag of the United States.svg John Harkes
One Knoxville SC Knoxville, Tennessee Regal Stadium 3,00020212023 Flag of Scotland.svg Mark McKeever
Lexington SC Lexington, Kentucky Bell Soccer Complex 3,37020212023 Flag of England.svg Sam Stockley
North Carolina FC Cary, North Carolina WakeMed Soccer Park 10,00020062021 Flag of the United States.svg John Bradford
Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC Windsor, Colorado Jackson Stadium 1,86020212022 Flag of Libya.svg Éamon Zayed
Union Omaha Papillion, Nebraska Werner Park 9,02320192020 Flag of the United States.svg Jay Mims
Richmond Kickers Richmond, Virginia City Stadium 6,00019932019 Flag of the United States.svg Darren Sawatzky
South Georgia Tormenta FC Statesboro, Georgia Optim Sports Medicine Field 5,30020152019 Flag of Scotland.svg Ian Cameron

Future teams

TeamCityStadiumCapacityFoundedJoiningHead coach
Planned expansion teams
USL1 Spokane Spokane, Washington Downtown Spokane Stadium5,00020212024vacant
Santa Barbara Sky FC Santa Barbara, California La Playa Stadium 10,00020222024vacant

Location map

Former teams

ClubCityStadiumCapacityJoinedFinal seasonMLS affiliationFate
Fort Lauderdale CF Fort Lauderdale, Florida DRV PNK Stadium 18,00020202021 Inter Miami CF Moved to MLS Next Pro [33]
Lansing Ignite FC Lansing, Michigan Cooley Law School Stadium 7,52720192019 Chicago Fire FC Folded [30]
New England Revolution II Foxborough, Massachusetts Gillette Stadium 20,00020202021 New England Revolution Moved to MLS Next Pro [33]
North Texas SC Arlington, Texas Choctaw Stadium 48,11420192021 FC Dallas Moved to MLS Next Pro [33]
Orlando City B Kissimmee, Florida Osceola County Stadium 5,40020192020 Orlando City SC Moved to MLS Next Pro [33]
Toronto FC II Toronto, Ontario BMO Training Ground 1,00020192021 Toronto FC Moved to MLS Next Pro [33]
FC Tucson Tucson, Arizona Kino North Stadium 3,20020192022NoneMoved to USL League Two [46]

Timeline

USL1 SpokaneSanta Barbara Sky FCOne Knoxville SCLexington SCNorthern Colorado Hailstorm FCCharlotte IndependenceCentral Valley Fuego FCNorth Carolina FCUnion OmahaNew England Revolution IIFort Lauderdale CFFC TucsonToronto FC IITormenta FCRichmond KickersOrlando City BNorth Texas SCLansing Ignite FCGreenville Triumph SCForward Madison FCChattanooga Red Wolves SCUSL League One

Champions

Teams that no longer participate in USL League One are in italics.

TeamUSL1 CupYear(s) wonRegular season
title
Year(s) won
North Texas SC 1 2019 1 2019
Greenville Triumph SC 1 2020 1 2020
Union Omaha 1 2021 1 2021
South Georgia Tormenta FC 1 2022 ----
Richmond Kickers ----1 2022

USL League One Finals

SeasonChampionsScoreRunners–upVenueAttendanceMVP
2019 North Texas SC 1–0 Greenville Triumph SC Toyota Stadium 3,245 Arturo Rodríguez (NTX)
2020 Greenville Triumph SC Cancelled [47] Union Omaha Legacy Early College Field 0N/A
2021 Union Omaha 3–0 Greenville Triumph SC Werner Park 5,221 Damià Viader (OMA)
2022 South Georgia Tormenta FC 2–1 Chattanooga Red Wolves SC Optim Sports Medicine Field 3,045 Kazaiah Sterling (TRM)

See also

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