CHICAGO (Jan. 6, 2017) – The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted Friday to grant provisional Division II status to the United Soccer League (USL) as well as the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the 2017 season.
According to U.S. Soccer's official release, neither league's application for Division II status met all the standards set forth by U.S. Soccer, prompting the board to grant provisional Division II status and work with each league on a pathway to full compliance. The board also determined that the leagues will be required to meet additional criteria.
“After an exhaustive process working with both leagues, in the best interest of the sport the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors has decided to grant provisional Division II status to the NASL and USL,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “U.S. Soccer will create an internal working group that will work with each league to set a pathway to meet the full requirements for Division II and allow for the larger goal of creating a sustainable future. We look forward to another productive year for professional soccer in this country.”
The USL’s expansive national footprint features teams in 21 of the top 50 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas and three of the top six populated Canadian cities. This year, team markets reached 75 million people including 30 million who lived in a region where the USL was the only professional league.
“The USL is honored to receive provisional U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 status, which provides further validation about our League’s financial sustainability, national footprint, ownership quality, stadium infrastructure and player development,” said Alec Papadakis, the USL Chief Executive Officer. “Our teams have invested more than $100 million into stadium development in the last year to enhance the experience for the 1.5 million passionate fans that attended games in 2016, the 1,000-plus players and nearly 100 coaches that have positioned our League as a highly sophisticated competition model that cultivates strong regional rivalries.”
With the USL kicking off its 2017 season in late March, the League will be announcing its official schedule and conference alignments soon.