The USL Championship (USLC), is a professional men's soccer league in the United States and Canada that began its inaugural season in 2011. The USL is sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer) as a Division II Professional League since 2017, placing it under Major League Soccer (Division I) in the hierarchy. The USL is headquartered in Tampa.
The league is owned and operated by United Soccer League (originally "United Soccer Leagues") and was formed as result of the merger of their USL First (USL-1) and Second Divisions (USL-2), following the controversial 2010 season which saw neither the USL-1 nor the North American Soccer League (NASL) receive Division II sanctioning from the USSF, resulting in the temporary USSF Division 2 Pro League. United Soccer Leagues stated that the merger would strengthen the league's position within the American professional soccer landscape through stability, commercial growth and the professional development of soccer in four main regions throughout the United States and Canada.
Formerly known as United Soccer League (USL) and USL Pro, in January 2013, United Soccer Leagues and MLS reached an agreement to integrate the USL league competition with the MLS Reserve League, primarily to improve player development in North America, strengthen league competition and build ties between leagues in the American soccer pyramid. This multi-year deal encourages MLS and USL team affiliations and player loans, aiming to have more games for teams and developing players. As of the 2019 season, 15 USL Championship teams are affiliated to MLS teams and every team but Columbus Crew SC, FC Cincinnati, New England Revolution, Los Angeles FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC have an affiliate in either the USL Championship or third-level USL League One (USL1). Minnesota United FC, Orlando City SC, Toronto FC, and FC Dallas have their top affiliates in USL League One.
|Organising body||United Soccer League|
|Founded||September 8, 2010|
|Other club(s) from||Canada|
(North American Football Union)
|Number of teams||36|
|Level on pyramid||2|
|Domestic cup(s)||U.S. Open Cup|
|Current champions||Louisville City FC (2018)|
|FC Cincinnati (2018)|
|Most championships||Orlando City|
Louisville City FC
(2 titles each)
|Orlando City (3 titles)|
|2019 USL Championship season|
On September 8, 2010, the United Soccer Leagues formally announced the creation of USL Pro in a press release. Prior to the official announcement of the new league, on August 11, 2010, the Dayton Dutch Lions FC revealed they would be joining the "USL-Pro Championship Division (former USL-2)" at a press conference, revealing the name of the new league before its official announcement. With this disclosure, the Dutch Lions were the first confirmed team in USL Pro for its inaugural 2011 season. Alongside the announcement of the new league, the Richmond Kickers revealed they would be moving to USL Pro for 2011. With the departure of the Portland Timbers to MLS in 2011 and the defection of the Puerto Rico Islanders to the NASL from USL-1, the Austin Aztex were the only remaining USL-1 team not yet a part of USL Pro.
On September 22, 2010, the "Caribbean Division" of USL Pro was announced, with teams from Puerto Rico and Antigua and Barbuda signing on to compete in the league. With the addition of Puerto Rico United to the league and "Caribbean Division", league representatives expressed their intent to see expansion in the region continue, with an eventual 8-team "Caribbean Conference". With the inclusion of a team from Los Angeles, this division eventually became the International Division. On September 22, 2010, USL announced that Sevilla FC Puerto Rico and River Plate Puerto Rico would be joining USL Pro in 2011 alongside Antigua Barracuda FC as part of the building blocks of a Caribbean division. On September 28, 2010, USL announced that one of their flagship clubs and reigning 2010 USL-2 Champions, the Charleston Battery, would be joining USL Pro for its launch in 2011. On September 30, 2010, nearly two months following the team's own announcement of a "USL Pro Championship Division" move, the USL formally announced Dayton Dutch Lions FC would join USL Pro. On October 4 and 7, 2010, the USL revealed two USL-2 clubs, the Charlotte Eagles and the Harrisburg City Islanders (the latter now known as Penn FC), would be making the jump to USL Pro for 2011.
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds were added as the 9th official team on October 22, 2010. October 25, 2010 saw the addition of the Rochester Rhinos who had previously committed to the NASL, along with expansion team Orlando City SC (formerly the Austin Aztex FC of USL-1) after new ownership secured and moved the team from Texas to Florida.
On November 9, 2010, former USL-2 side Wilmington Hammerheads officially joined the league as the 12th team, followed on November 17, 2010 by F.C. New York. The expected number of teams to launch league play in 2011 was announced as 18–20, alongside the announcement of the Wilmington Hammerheads joining the league.
The Los Angeles Blues, associated with the successful women's Pali Blues organization, were added on December 7, 2010 with a message of future "Western Conference" growth into 2012. The "Caribbean Division" of USL Pro grew to four teams on December 9, 2010 with the addition of Puerto Rico United to the league, marking the last of the 15 teams that would compete in USL Pro in its inaugural 2011 season.
On September 14, 2010, United Soccer Leagues President Tim Holt expressed the desired structure for the league to launch with 14–18 teams across four specific geographic areas in 2011, expansion to 22–26 teams by 2013, and 28–32 teams by 2015.
Following USL Pro's first annual general meeting, the league confirmed it would debut with 16 teams playing a 24-game regular season schedule in 2011, with planned growth for 20–24 teams to start the 2012 season.
USL Pro debuted in 2011, starting with 15 teams playing a 24-game regular season schedule. American and National Division teams played a home-and-away series against all opponents from the two divisions (totaling 18 games), 2 additional regional rivalry matches, with each team making an additional trip to either Los Angeles or the Caribbean to play two games while hosting International Division competition for two games. International Division teams played each team in their division four times (twice home, twice away, totaling 16 games) while traveling to face American or National Division opponents in four games and hosting those opponents for four games.
The original playoff format saw eight teams compete in a one-game quarterfinal. Both the American and National Divisions saw their top three teams advance for an inter-divisional playoff, while the top two teams in the International Division played-off against each other to reach the semi-finals. The four remaining teams were re-seeded for a single semi-final match, again with the higher seed hosting, leading up to a single match for the USL Cup. In all playoff matches the highest seeded team hosted.
On May 10, 2011, early in the league's inaugural season, the league announced that it was dropping the three Puerto Rican clubs from the USL Pro schedule. The PRSL clubs were dropped due to economic and ownership issues. The two remaining International Division teams – Antigua Barracuda FC and Los Angeles Blues – were re-aligned into the American and National Divisions. Due to the removal of the International Division, the revised playoff format featured the top four teams in each of the two divisions. The two division playoff winners met in the USL Pro Championship at the home venue of the team with the better record.
Following the 2011 season, USL Pro announced with the release of the 2012 season schedule that F.C. New York would not be returning to play, with the former National and American Divisions being dissolved to form a single, eleven team league table.
On January 23, 2013 United Soccer Leagues and MLS announced a multi-year agreement to integrate MLS Reserve League play with USL Pro teams, first through team affiliations and "interleague" play, but eventually fully merging MLS Reserves into the USL Pro structure. The stated goals of this partnership are to improve North American player development, strengthen league competition, build long-term ties between the leagues and expand the audience for both the leagues and developing players.
While the 2013 season would feature partnered competitions between USL Pro and MLS Reserve teams, four Major League Soccer clubs opted to affiliate with an existing USL Pro team, agreeing to loan at least four MLS players to their affiliate: Sporting Kansas City with Orlando City, the Philadelphia Union with the Harrisburg City Islanders, D.C. United with the Richmond Kickers and the New England Revolution with the Rochester Rhinos. Each MLS club will eventually be expected to either affiliate with a USL Pro team or operate an independent reserve team in the league. The Houston Dynamo announced that they would be partnering with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2014. However, this partnership between the Riverhounds and Dynamo was dissolved after just one year. Following the conclusion of the 2013 season, VSI Tampa Bay folded after only one season, along with founding league member Antigua.
In December 2012, Sacramento announced it would begin play in 2014 as an expansion team, and in July 2014, USL announced that Oklahoma City would also join USL in 2014. Orlando City announced that it would leave USL after the 2014 season to join MLS as an expansion team for the 2015 season. The Los Angeles Blues were rebranded as Orange County Blues FC on February 5, 2014. The Phoenix FC franchise was revoked and replaced with Arizona United SC on March 13, 2014.
In what would become a major trend, on January 29, 2014, the LA Galaxy announced the creation of LA Galaxy II, a reserve team within the club's existing development structure. The Galaxy purchased a USL Pro expansion franchise and became the first MLS club to enter its reserve team into the USL Pro.
USL Pro nearly doubled the number of teams in the league for 2015 in large part due to MLS franchises following the path taken by the LA Galaxy II. Seven MLS clubs announced the purchase of a USL Pro franchise for their reserve team. These MLS franchises joined four independent expansion teams that were previously announced for Colorado Springs, St. Louis, Tulsa and Austin. Additionally, Orlando City sold its franchise rights to Louisville interests, which unveiled Louisville City FC on June 3, 2014 as an affiliate of the new MLS side. The United Soccer Leagues announced that the Charlotte Eagles would drop to its Premier Development League (PDL), now known as USL League Two, while selling their franchise rights to another Charlotte group, which formed Charlotte Independence for play beginning in 2015. Finally, on December 11, 2014, the Dayton Dutch Lions self-relegated to play in the PDL starting in 2015.
During 2014 and early 2015, the various MLS clubs in conjunction with the USL announced seven new franchises that would be owned or controlled by MLS team ownership, and would all begin play in 2015. On September 10, 2014, Real Salt Lake revealed the name of their previously announced USL Pro affiliate team would be Real Monarchs, and confirmed that the team would begin play in 2015. The team played at Rio Tinto Stadium until the 5,000-seat Zions Bank Stadium was built in Herriman, Utah. Both the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC created their own USL Pro squads, Portland Timbers 2 and Seattle Sounders FC 2 on October 14, 2014. The Montreal Impact announced that it would field a USL Pro team in September 2014. On November 18, 2014, FC Montréal officially joined the league. On November 20, 2014, Toronto FC announced that it would also field a team, subsequently named Toronto FC II, for the 2015 season. Whitecaps FC 2 joined USL Pro the next day. After discussing plans for a USL Pro team in 2015, then postponing those plans in September, the New York Red Bulls announced that their USL Pro team, New York Red Bulls II would begin play in 2015.
MLS affiliations were announced for the remaining MLS teams that did not have an affiliation in 2014 and did not elect to purchase a USL Pro franchise. On September 18, 2014 the Colorado Rapids announced an affiliation partnership with the Charlotte Independence. On January 16, 2015 New York City FC announced that it would have an affiliate relationship with the Wilmington Hammerheads and the Chicago Fire announced their affiliation with St Louis. On February 9, 2015, FC Dallas announced it would add Arizona United SC as its USL Pro affiliate. As a result, all 20 MLS teams for the 2015 season were either fielding their own team in the USL Pro or were affiliated with an independent USL Pro club.
The league also announced in 2015 that the league would be divided into two conferences. Teams would play a 28-game schedule with 22 games against all the teams in their conference, and the teams would be further assigned to four-club subdivisions for the other six games with an eye towards geographic rivalries between clubs.
On February 10, 2015, United Soccer Leagues announced a branding change for the league. It would now be called the "United Soccer League" or "USL" for short. They introduced a new logo and branding, and stated their intention to apply for Division II status within the United States Soccer Federation hierarchy.
During the 2015 season, USL announced several expansion teams for the 2016 season. The 25th franchise was awarded to Lone Star, LLC and the team would be named Rio Grande Valley FC. In a first for the USL, the team has a "hybrid" affiliation with the Houston Dynamo, who are responsible for the tactical part of the club, while the ownership group, Lone Star, is responsible for operations and management. FC Cincinnati was added as the 26th franchise and Bethlehem Steel FC, in the Lehigh Valley area and owned by the Philadelphia Union, became the 27th, Orlando City B (owned by Orlando City SC) as the 29th, the Swope Park Rangers (owned by Sporting Kansas City) as the 30th, and San Antonio FC as the 31st.
The Austin Aztex announced that they would go on hiatus for the 2016 USL season on October 2, 2015. Floods damaging House Park midway through the 2015 season forced the team to relocate to a high school facility. The team was intended to return in 2017, pending construction of a new, soccer-specific stadium. However, stadium and ownership issues continued to plague the franchise, and they did not return.
Expansion continued for the 2017 season with Reno 1868 FC, which had been announced during the 2015 season as the 28th franchise, starting play. On October 25, 2016, the USL added two teams from the North American Soccer League (NASL): the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC. This was the first time a club moved from the NASL to the USL. The Montreal Impact also announced that it would fold its USL team, FC Montreal, in favor of affiliating with Ottawa Fury FC.
On August 31, 2016, Kyle Eng sold his majority share of Arizona United SC to an investment group led by Berke Bakay and was rebranded as Phoenix Rising FC with plans to build their own stadium.
On January 6, 2017, the U.S. Soccer board of directors voted to grant provisional Division II status to the USL for the 2017 season, placing the league on the same tier as the North American Soccer League. The NASL was also downgraded from Division II sanctioning to a provisional status due to its membership decreasing below the 12 team minimum. Following the 2017 season, the USL gained two more NASL teams: Indy Eleven and North Carolina FC. For the 2018 season, the NASL's provisional sanctioning was not renewed by U.S. Soccer, while the USL was granted full sanctioning under Division II on a year-to-year basis. The NASL attempted to sue U.S. Soccer for colluding with Major League Soccer to protect what it deemed to be a monopolization of top-flight soccer in the United States, but was denied by an appeals court.
The USL's expansion efforts continued in the 2018 season with the additions of Nashville SC, Las Vegas Lights FC, Fresno FC (affiliated with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC) and Atlanta United 2 (owned by Atlanta United FC). The league also lost Orlando City B and the Rochester Rhinos, which each announced a hiatus, while the Whitecaps FC 2 were folded after its parent team in Vancouver decided to no longer run its own development team and affiliated with the new Fresno expansion.
Four teams left the USL top flight after the 2018 season. The ownership group of FC Cincinnati was awarded an MLS franchise that started play under the FC Cincinnati name in 2019. Penn FC, the Richmond Kickers, and Toronto FC II voluntarily dropped to USL League One, a new third-level league that United Soccer Leagues launched in 2019. The Kickers and Toronto FC II began League One play in 2019; Penn FC suspended professional operations for 2019 and will resume play in League One in 2020. In addition, the announced hiatuses for both the Rhinos and Orlando City B became permanent departures. The Rhinos announced they would extend their hiatus through 2019 before resuming play in League One in 2020, while Orlando City B resumed play in 2019 in League One.
The league also approved several other expansion locations in Austin, Birmingham, Memphis, Chicago, Oakland East Bay, Hartford, Albuquerque, El Paso, and Loudoun County, Virginia. All of these teams began play in 2019 except for Chicago and East Bay, which are currently set to debut in 2021.
The following teams are playing in the USL Championship during the 2019 season, with the conference alignment announced on December 13, 2018.
|Club||City||Stadium||Capacity||Founded||Joined||Head coach||MLS affiliate|
|Atlanta United 2||Kennesaw, Georgia||Fifth Third Bank Stadium[i]||8,318||2017||2018||Stephen Glass||Atlanta United FC|
|Bethlehem Steel FC||Chester, Pennsylvania||Talen Energy Stadium[i]||18,500||2015||2016||Brendan Burke||Philadelphia Union|
|Birmingham Legion FC||Birmingham, Alabama||BBVA Compass Field[i]||5,000||2017||2019||Tom Soehn|
|Charleston Battery||Charleston, South Carolina||MUSC Health Stadium[i]||5,100||1993||2011||Mike Anhaeuser|
|Charlotte Independence||Matthews, North Carolina||Sportsplex at Matthews[i]||5,000||2014||2015||Jim McGuinness|
|Hartford Athletic||Hartford, Connecticut||Dillon Stadium[i]||5,500||2018||2019||Jimmy Nielsen|
|Indy Eleven||Indianapolis, Indiana||Lucas Oil Stadium[ii]||62,421||2013||2018||Martin Rennie|
|Loudoun United FC||Leesburg, Virginia||Loudoun United Stadium[i]||5,000||2018||2019||Richie Williams||D.C. United|
|Louisville City FC||Louisville, Kentucky||Louisville Slugger Field[iii][iv]||8,000||2014||2015||John Hackworth|
|Memphis 901 FC||Memphis, Tennessee||AutoZone Park[iii]||10,000||2018||2019||Tim Mulqueen|
|Nashville SC||Nashville, Tennessee||First Tennessee Park[iii]||10,000||2016||2018||Gary Smith|
|New York Red Bulls II||Montclair, New Jersey||MSU Soccer Park at Pittser Field[i]||5,000||2015||John Wolyniec||New York Red Bulls|
|North Carolina FC||Cary, North Carolina||WakeMed Soccer Park[i]||10,000||2006||2018||Dave Sarachan|
|Ottawa Fury FC||Ottawa, Ontario||TD Place Stadium[ii]||24,000||2011||2017||Nikola Popovic||Montreal Impact|
|Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Highmark Stadium[i]||5,000||1998||2011||Bob Lilley|
|Saint Louis FC||Fenton, Missouri||Toyota Stadium[i]||5,500||2014||2015||Anthony Pulis|
|Swope Park Rangers||Kansas City, Kansas||Children's Mercy Park[i]||18,467||2015||2016||Paulo Nagamura||Sporting Kansas City|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||St. Petersburg, Florida||Al Lang Stadium[iii]||7,227||2008||2017||Neill Collins|
|Austin Bold FC||Elroy, Texas||Bold Stadium||5,000||2017||2019||Marcelo Serrano|
|Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC||Colorado Springs, Colorado||Weidner Field[i]||5,000||2013||2015||Steve Trittschuh||Colorado Rapids|
|El Paso Locomotive FC||El Paso, Texas||Southwest University Park[iii]||9,500||2018||2019||Mark Lowry|
|Fresno FC||Fresno, California||Chukchansi Park[iii]||12,500||2017||2018||Adam Smith|
|LA Galaxy II||Carson, California||Dignity Health Track Stadium[ii]||5,000||2014||Mike Muñoz||LA Galaxy|
|Las Vegas Lights FC||Las Vegas, Nevada||Cashman Field[iii]||9,334||2017||2018||Eric Wynalda|
|New Mexico United||Albuquerque, New Mexico||Isotopes Park[iii]||13,500||2018||2019||Troy Lesesne|
|OKC Energy FC||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||Taft Stadium[i]||7,500||2013||2014||Steve Cooke|
|Orange County SC||Irvine, California||Championship Soccer Stadium[i]||5,000||2010||2011||Braeden Cloutier|
|Phoenix Rising FC||Tempe, Arizona||Casino Arizona Field[i]||6,200||2014||Rick Schantz|
|Portland Timbers 2||Portland, Oregon||Providence Park[i]||25,218||2014||2015||Cameron Knowles||Portland Timbers|
|Real Monarchs||Herriman, Utah||Zions Bank Stadium[i]||5,000||2014||2015||Martín Vásquez||Real Salt Lake|
|Reno 1868 FC||Reno, Nevada||Greater Nevada Field[iii]||9,013||2015||2017||Ian Russell||San Jose Earthquakes|
|Rio Grande Valley FC Toros||Edinburg, Texas||H-E-B Park[i]||9,400||2015||2016||Gerson Echeverry||Houston Dynamo|
|Sacramento Republic FC||Sacramento, California||Papa Murphy's Park[i]||11,569||2012||2014||Simon Elliott|
|San Antonio FC||San Antonio, Texas||Toyota Field[i]||8,296||2016||Darren Powell||New York City FC|
|Tacoma Defiance||Tacoma, Washington||Cheney Stadium[iii][iv]||6,500||2014||2015||Chris Little||Seattle Sounders FC|
|Tulsa Roughnecks FC||Tulsa, Oklahoma||ONEOK Field[iii]||7,833||2013||2015||Michael Nsien||Chicago Fire|
|Club||City||Stadium||Capacity||Founded||Joining||Head coach||MLS affiliate|
|Planned Expansion Clubs|
|Chicago||Chicago, Illinois||Lincoln Yards Stadium[i]||20,000||2017||2021||TBD||TBD|
|Oakland East Bay||Concord, California||East Bay Stadium[i]||15,000||2017||2021||TBD||TBD|
|Club||City||Stadium||Capacity||Joined||Final season||MLS affiliation||Fate|
|Antigua Barracuda FC||St. John's, Antigua||Stanford Cricket Ground||5,000||2011||2013||None||Folded|
|Austin Aztex||Austin, Texas||House Park||6,500||2015||Columbus Crew SC||Folded|
|Charlotte Eagles||Charlotte, North Carolina||Dickson Field||5,006||2011||2014||None||Moved to PDL|
|FC Cincinnati||Cincinnati, Ohio||Nippert Stadium||33,800||2015||2018||None||Moved to MLS|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||West Carrollton, Ohio||DOC Stadium||3,000||2011||2014||Columbus Crew SC||Moved to PDL|
|FC Montreal||Montreal, Quebec||Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard||3,500||2015||2016||Montreal Impact||Folded by MLS parent club|
|F.C. New York||Queens, New York||Belson Stadium||2,168||2011||None||Moved to NPSL, then folded|
|Orlando City B||Orlando, Florida||Orlando City Stadium||3,500||2016||2017||Orlando City SC||Moved to USL League One (2019)|
|Orlando City SC||Lake Buena Vista, Florida||ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex||5,500||2011||2014||Sporting Kansas City||Moved to MLS; USL rights transferred to Louisville|
|Penn FC||Harrisburg, Pennsylvania||FNB Field||6,187||2011||2018||None||Will join USL League One in 2020|
|Phoenix FC||Tempe, Arizona||Sun Devil Soccer Stadium||3,400||2013||None||Folded; replaced by Arizona United SC|
|Puerto Rico United[i]||Aguada, Puerto Rico||Aguada Stadium||4,000||2011||None||Moved to Liga Nacional (PR)|
|River Plate Puerto Rico[i]||Fajardo, Puerto Rico||Roberto Clemente Stadium||12,500||2011||None||Moved to PRSL|
|Richmond Kickers||Richmond, Virginia||City Stadium||22,000||2011||2018||D.C. United||Moved to USL League One|
|Rochester Rhinos||Rochester, New York||Marina Auto Stadium||13,768||2011||2017||New England Revolution||Will join USL League One in 2020|
|Sevilla Puerto Rico[i]||Juncos, Puerto Rico||Josué Elevadito González Stadium||2,500||2011||None||Moved to Liga Nacional (PR)|
|Toronto FC II||Toronto, Ontario||Lamport Stadium||9,600||2014||2018||Toronto FC||Moved to USL League One|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2||Vancouver, British Columbia||Thunderbird Stadium||3,500||2015||2017||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Folded by MLS parent club|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||Plant City, Florida||Plant City Stadium||6,700||2013||2013||None||Folded|
|Wilmington Hammerheads FC||Wilmington, North Carolina||Legion Stadium||6,000||2011||2016||Toronto FC & New York City FC||Moved to PDL, then folded|
‡ Puerto Rico clubs Puerto Rico United, River Plate Puerto Rico, and Sevilla Puerto Rico began play in the league, but in May 2011 United Soccer Leagues announced that the teams would not finish the season due to financial difficulties.
USL Pro's scheduling format changed for the 2015 season to accommodate the expansion that took place during the 2014–2015 off-season, and the league's resulting need to divide teams into conferences – which eliminated the single table.
All teams played 28 regular-season matches stretching from March to September. This included a 22-game, double-round-robin schedule that pitted each team against all its conference opponents at home and on the road. The remaining six fixtures were played against regional rivals, which lead to some inter-conference regular season matches. The top six finishers in each conference went through to the October playoffs, which continued as a series of single-game knockout rounds. After three rounds of intra-conference play, the two conference champions met in the championship match, to be hosted by the team with the better regular-season record. For 2016 season the season was extended to 30 games.
Starting with the 2019 season, teams will play regular-season games only within their conference. Each team will play a home-and-home schedule within its conference, resulting in a 34-game schedule. The top 10 teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs, which will continue to be held with separate brackets for each conference and conducted entirely as one-off knockout matches. The opening round, which the league calls the "play-in round", sees the bottom four teams in action, with the 7 seed hosting the 10 seed and 8 hosting 9. The survivors join the top six sides from their respective conferences, with the lowest remaining seed visiting the 1 seed and the other play-in survivor visiting the 2 seed. All matches through the conference finals will be hosted by the higher seed. The USL Cup will be the season's only match that involves teams from different conferences; it will be hosted by the conference champion with the better regular-season record.
The league featured national broadcast coverage on Fox Soccer Channel in 2011. In 2014 and 2015, the league broadcast all matches on YouTube. On April 22, 2016, the USL announced a partnership with ESPN, bringing 20 matches to ESPN 3 and the championship match to an ESPN network The remainder of matches will continue to be broadcast on YouTube. Beginning with the launch of ESPN+ on April 12, 2018, all USL matches will either be on ESPN networks, ESPN3 or ESPN+.
Teams that no longer participate in the USL Championship are in italics.
|Team||USL Cup||Year(s) won||Regular season
|Orlando City||2||2011, 2013||3||2011, 2012, 2014||4|
|Louisville City FC||2||2017, 2018||4|
|New York Red Bulls II||1||2016||1||2016||4|
|2011||Orlando City||2–2 (p)||Harrisburg City Islanders||Citrus Bowl||11,220||Sean Kelley (ORL)|
|2012||Charleston Battery||1–0||Wilmington Hammerheads||Blackbaud Stadium||4,963||Jose Cuevas (CHB)|
|2013||Orlando City||7–4||Charlotte Eagles||Citrus Bowl||20,886||Dom Dwyer (ORL)|
|2014||Sacramento Republic||2–0||Harrisburg City Islanders||Bonney Field||8,000||Rodrigo López (SAC)|
|2015||Rochester Rhinos||2–1 (a.e.t.)||LA Galaxy II||Sahlen's Stadium||5,247||Asani Samuels (ROC)|
|2016||New York Red Bulls II||5–1||Swope Park Rangers||Red Bull Arena||5,547||Brandon Allen (NYRB)|
|2017||Louisville City FC||1–0||Swope Park Rangers||Louisville Slugger Field||14,456||Paolo DelPiccolo (LOU)|
|2018||Louisville City FC||1–0||Phoenix Rising FC||Lynn Stadium||7,025||Luke Spencer (LOU)|
Current through completed 2018 USL Regular Season; Order based on major honors (championships).
|Team||Seasons||USL Playoffs||USL Regular Season||Domestic
(USOC, CC, CFUCC)
|Total honors||Major honors / Championships|
|Winner||Runner-up||Winner||Runner-up||Winner||Furthest USL Entry|
|Orlando City SC||4||2||-||3||1||-||1||7||5|
|Rochester Rhinos||7||1||-||1||1||1 (pre-USL)||1||5||3|
|Richmond Kickers||8||-||-||1||-||1 (pre-USL)||1||3||2|
|New York Red Bulls II||4||1||-||1||-||-||-||2||2|
|Louisville City FC||4||2||-||-||3||-||1||6||2|
|LA Galaxy II||5||-||1||-||-||-||-||1||0|
|Swope Park Rangers||3||-||2||-||-||-||-||2||0|
|3||George Davis IV||50|
|Season||Teams||League avg.||Playoff avg.||Highest teams||Lowest teams||Ref|
|2011||12||2,274||5,555||5,330 (Orlando City)
|410 (Los Angeles Blues)
|2012||11||2,777||4,252||6,606 (Orlando City)
|666 (Los Angeles Blues)
|2013||13||2,611||6,989||8,056 (Orlando City)
|378 (VSI Tampa Bay)
718 (Los Angeles Blues)
597 (LA Galaxy II)
6,765 (Louisville City)
|313 (FC Montréal)
479 (Toronto FC ll)
|2016||29||3,439||5,281||17,296 (FC Cincinnati)
|243 (FC Montréal)
589 (New York Red Bulls II)
|2017||30||4,302||5,339||21,198 (FC Cincinnati)
|632 (New York Red Bulls II)
869 (Vancouver Whitecaps 2)
|2018||33||4,923||7,786||25,717 (FC Cincinnati)
|810 (Toronto FC II)
812 (New York Red Bulls II)
FC Cincinnati played before a record crowd of 20,497 at Nippert Stadium on April 16, 2016 in a rivalry match against neighboring Louisville City FC. This broke the USL Pro's previous record for attendance at a regular-season match of 20,231 set by Sacramento Republic in its home debut on April 26, 2014 at Hughes Stadium. Cincinnati broke the record again on May 14, 2016, with a new all-time high of 23,375. Cincinnati broke the single game attendance record again on October 2, 2016 in their first ever playoff match against the Charleston Battery, losing 2–1 in the quarterfinals of the 2016 USL playoffs. The attendance of 30,187 also set the USL playoff record. Cincinnati broke the all time regular season record again on August 5, 2017 at Nippert Stadium, drawing 25,308 versus Orlando City B. They broke their own record again about six weeks later drawing 30,417 to a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls II Cincinnati broke the record once more in their final home regular season game as a USL team on September 29, 2018, drawing 31,478 versus Indy Eleven
The 2019 USL Championship season is the ninth season of the USL Championship and third under Division II sanctioning. This is the first season in which the league is operating under the name "USL Championship," having used the name "United Soccer League" through 2018. The season began on March 8, 2019 and will conclude on October 20, 2019; with each team playing 34 matches. 36 teams are competing in the 2019 USL Championship season, split into 2 conferences of 18 teams each. Louisville City FC are the two-time defending USL Cup champions. The currently reigning Regular Season champions, FC Cincinnati, are no longer playing, having been replaced by a Major League Soccer franchise of the same name for 2019 and beyond.
The 2019 season is the last for the current incarnation of Nashville SC. The club's identity will transfer to a Major League Soccer team that will start play in 2020.Austin Bold FC
Austin Bold FC is an American professional soccer team located within the ETJ of Austin, Texas. Founded in 2017, the team made its debut in the USL Championship in 2019.Birmingham Legion FC
Birmingham Legion FC is an American professional soccer club based in Birmingham, Alabama, that competes in the USL Championship, the second division of American soccer. The team was established in August 2017 and began their first professional season on March 10, 2019.Charlotte Independence
The Charlotte Independence is an American soccer team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. They play in the USL Championship, the second tier of the American soccer pyramid. They play their home games at the Sportsplex at Matthews in Matthews, North Carolina.Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club is a professional soccer team based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Founded in 2014, the team is a member of the USL Championship, the second tier of the American soccer pyramid. The franchise is owned and operated by Martin Ragain and Ragain Sports, LLC.Eastern Conference (USL Championship)
The Eastern Conference is one of two conferences in USL Championship soccer.El Paso Locomotive FC
El Paso Locomotive FC is an American professional soccer team based in El Paso, Texas. Founded in 2018, the team made its debut in the USL Championship in 2019.Fresno FC
Fresno Football Club is an American professional soccer team based in Fresno, California. Founded in 2017, the team is a member of the USL Championship, a second tier league in the American Soccer Pyramid. Their first game took place on March 17, 2018.Hartford Athletic
Hartford Athletic is an American professional soccer team based in Hartford, Connecticut. The club was founded in 2018 and started play in the USL Championship in 2019. 2012 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and former Oklahoma City Energy FC head coach Jimmy Nielsen is the head coach of the team.LA Galaxy II
LA Galaxy II is an American professional soccer team based in Carson, California, United States founded in 2014. It is the reserve team of the LA Galaxy. The team currently competes in the USL Championship, the second tier of the United States soccer league system. The team were runners up in the 2015 edition of the USL championship in which the Los Dos lost to the Rochester Rhinos.Loudoun United FC
Loudoun United FC is an American professional soccer team based in Leesburg, Virginia. The team was founded in 2018 as the reserve team of D.C. United and made its debut in the USL Championship in 2019.Memphis 901 FC
Memphis 901 FC is an American professional soccer team based in Memphis, Tennessee. Founded in 2018, the team made its debut in the USL Championship in 2019.Orange County SC
Orange County Soccer Club is an American soccer team based in the Orange County, California suburb of Irvine, California, United States. Founded in 2010 as the Los Angeles Blues, the team plays in the second-tier USL Championship.
The team plays its home games at Championship Soccer Stadium, located inside Great Park in Irvine, CA.Portland Timbers 2
Portland Timbers 2 is an American professional soccer team based in Portland, Oregon, and play in the USL Championship, in the second tier of the United States Soccer Pyramid. Portland Timbers 2 (often referred to as "T2") is the reserve squad of the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer.Real Monarchs
Real Monarchs is the reserve team of American soccer club Real Salt Lake that plays in the USL Championship. The team currently play their games at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.Tulsa Roughnecks FC
The Tulsa Roughnecks FC is an American professional soccer team based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They compete in the USL Championship, starting in the 2015 season. Jeff and Dale Hubbard, co-owners of the Tulsa Drillers minor league baseball franchise, were announced as co-owners on December 18, 2013. The team calls itself the Roughnecks after the name received nearly 50% of the votes in a "name the team" contest held in February 2014, the team name refers to the name to the original Roughneck team from Tulsa that played between 1978 and 1984.USL Cup
The USL Cup is the post-season championship match of USL Championship, the second tier of professional men's soccer in the United States and Canada. The winner is crowned champion in the same manner as in other North American sports leagues (i.e. via a playoff following a regular season). This differs from other top soccer leagues around the world which consider the club with the most points at the end of the season to be the sole champion. USL honors that achievement with the USL Shield.
Unlike most soccer league, but much like North American sports leagues, the USL champions does not earn promotion into Major League Soccer, due to the fixed membership structure found in the league. Also players receive no prize money from the league for winning it.
The original USL Championship dates back to 2005 with the now-defunct USL First Division, which served as a predecessor to the current USL. Today the USL Cup is typically held in mid-November, featuring the winners of the Eastern Conference Championship and Western Conference Championship.Western Conference (USL Championship)
The Western Conference is one of two conferences in USL Championship soccer.Whitecaps FC 2
Whitecaps FC 2 was a professional soccer team based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that served as the reserve team of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC of MLS. The team played its home games at UBC's Thunderbird Stadium and competed in the second tier United Soccer League.On November 17, 2017, the Whitecaps announced they were disbanding WFC2 and entering an affiliation agreement with USL expansion team Fresno FC.
USL Championship venues
|Men's national teams|
|Women's national teams|
|Men's outdoor leagues|
|Women's outdoor leagues|
|Men's indoor leagues|
|Men's futsal leagues|
|Men's Cup competitions|
|Women's Cup competitions|
|Men's college soccer|
|Women's college soccer|
|Defunct women's |
|Men's national teams|
|Women's national teams|
|Men's outdoor leagues|
|Women's outdoor leagues|
|Men's indoor leagues|
|Men's futsal leagues|
|Men's Cup competitions|
|Women's Cup competitions|
|Men's university soccer|
|Men's college soccer|
|Women's university soccer|
|Defunct Canadian leagues|
|Defunct American leagues|
|Defunct women's leagues|
|Defunct men's Cup competitions|
|American Soccer League|
|United Soccer League (1984–85)|
|American Soccer League (1988–89)|
|American Professional Soccer League|
|USISL Select League|
|USISL / USL A-League|
|USL First Division|
|USSF Division 2 Professional League|
|North American Soccer League|
|USL / USL Championship|
|USISL Pro League|
|USISL D-3 Pro League|
|USL Pro Soccer League|
|USL Second Division|
|United Soccer League|
|USL League One|