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USL reportedly adding Division 3 competition in 2019

The USL’s strangehold on the lower divisions of American soccer is about to get a bit stronger. The league that earned second-division status alongside the NASL this offseason is planning to announce a Division 3 competition for the 2019 season, per Sports Illustrated. 

Although it may seem like a lot of work for the USL to gain traction with new ownership groups in markets across North America for a Division 3 league, it appears the league is confident it can gain enough interest to set up a third-tier league in two years time. No specific markets or affiliations with MLS clubs have been mentioned as of now, but it does look like an announcement could be on the horizon.

The USL was the third-division offering in U.S. Soccer for the last six years, but it fought for second-division status this offseason after rapid growth in previous seasons and earned it before play began in 2017.


  1. I’m not a pro-rel militant (although I’m open to it), but wouldn’t it be ironic if USL does pro-rel for its 2nd and 3rd divisions and, in 10-15 years, fans and investors decide that is way more exciting than what MLS’ stagnant 28 team table has to offer?

    • FrenchOne

      I just looked it up, you are talking about a league that had $1.5 million people attend…..for ALL of it’s games last season.

      In 10 years MLS will stay put/grow so little and USL will grow so much that people will be clamoring for teams to move up? Not even mentioning that many of these teams can never be as good as the MLS teams becaaaaauuuuuse…….they are the minor league teams of the MLS teams.

      NASL is the chance for Pro/Rel. It ain’t happening in MLS. Ever.

      • NASL is the chance for Pro/Rel. It ain’t happening in MLS. Ever.

        …with Don Garber in charge. It’ll definitely happen in the future, but it’s a matter of how distant into that future is the bigger question.

      • NASL is the chance for pro/rel? They can hardly keep their 1 league going.. pro/rel will be implemented by the first league that can expand past the fears of short term losses and focus on soccer development first — USL has my bet.

      • The NASL is such a joke. Why does everyone always have a hard-on for this floundering league? USL is higher quality, easily. Also, your “minor league” comment is ironic, seeing as in Germany, Spain, etc. they have “B” (or II) teams in lower divisions….

      • Quit Whinning: My point was simply that MLS has been so resistant to pro-rel, but USL could “beat it to the punch.” The nice thing is that USL is more or less part of the MLS structure (don’t know all the details of their arrangement), so I suppose it would be easy enough for MLS to swoop in. I understand that pro/rel is not part of the American sport landscape and it may be tough to introduce it 25-30 years into MLS’ existence, but we may get to see what it looks like at the minor league level and, it may turn out, that both fans and owners have an appetite for it.

    • If you follow Leander Shlakerlakens (@Leanderalphabet on twitter; a good follow btw), he is quick to point out how Holland used to have two closed pyramids stack on top of one another (one for pros and one for amateurs). A similar set up would be a good long-term goal in the US. MLS and MLS2 have their own closed pyramid of 40+ teams and the USL2 and USL3 would have another closed pyramid of 40+ teams. Then in the long, long term when we’re all dead they can open up everything.

    • There are 107 cities in the US with a population of 500,000 or more. Many of them are going to have teams and once the pyramid is built out there will be pro/rel, including MLS. Mind you, that isn’t going to be soon but I think it’s inevitable.


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