There’s a new professional league in American soccer in 2019 and it is setting up to be one of the most fun leagues to watch this coming season. After what is now the United Soccer League Championship moved from division three to division two in 2017, the country was left without a third division. The USL, which also operates the fourth division USL League Two, formerly the Premier Development League, decided to fill that gap with a new league, USL League One. Here are five reasons why this new league will be a fun one to watch in 2019.
Many Major League Soccer and USL Championship clubs generally feel as though they require a sense of professionalism when communicating. So far, League One clubs have shown that they would rather have fun. Recently, a tweet was posted about predictions for the upcoming standings. The result was that each independent team chimed in, trading insults at who would be the best team. No team has had more fun on social media than Forward Madison FC. Measuring the snowfall with a plastic flamingo, the primary feature in the club’s crest, the club has embraced a new phrase, “full mingo.” Things like this have shown that these clubs won’t be taking themselves too seriously, which is a good thing. After all, despite the fact that we often take it seriously, this is only a game for entertainment.
One of the major advantages of USL League One is that it will provide more opportunities for young players. Many of these players have recently been forced to attend college with the competition for spots in the USL Championship being so high. This new league will allow those players to sign professional contracts and allow fans to watch future MLS and potentially future U.S. National Team players develop. This will especially be attractive for fans of the MLS-owned teams — Orlando City B, Toronto FC II, and North Texas SC — as they will feature young academy graduates that have signed their first professional contracts.
As American soccer has grown, it’s allowed regions that previously didn’t have soccer to obtain their own clubs. For many, this has opened the eyes of others around the country about what a great soccer culture there is in those areas. Examples of this are the Sacramento Republic and FC Cincinnati, which broke league records with attendance. It’s unknown which areas will be the next Sacramento or Cincinnati but it may come from one of the new cities in League One.
While USL League One may be a new league, it’s not full of new teams. Orlando City started its life in the old USL Pro third division league. While the club has since been elevated to MLS, the club’s second team, OCB, has had the opportunity to face the first team’s former foes. This season, the Richmond Kickers, which the first team battled for league titles with, have dropped down to the new league and the Rochester Rhinos will join in 2020. In the coming years, you can expect other teams that either moved up to the second division or down to the fourth division to join the league. The result will be that longtime Orlando City fans will get to experience a blast from the past with their club facing off against former rivals.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is one of the oldest cup competitions in the world. Despite MLS teams not taking the competition very seriously until the latter stages, it’s a great opportunity for the smaller clubs to compete against a higher level opponent. Defeating an MLS team could be their biggest win of the season as they look to become the second team in the MLS era to win the tournament (the Rochester Rhinos won it in 1999). One of the most exciting parts of every season is seeing a small club from a lower league defeat a giant from the top division. The addition of a new league and more teams will only add to that opportunity. One thing to note is that MLS reserve sides won’t be eligible for the competition.
This year will see the launch of a new league, USL League One. No matter what team you support, there are reasons why you will enjoy watching this new league. What excites you the most about watching League One this season? Let us know in the comments below.