The United Soccer League announced its conference alignment for the upcoming season, confirming 33 teams will compete for a championship in pro U.S. soccer’s second division.
Orlando City B is sitting out the 2018 USL season, but OCB has not folded and club officials have indicated they plan to field a second team in the future.
OCB won’t be among those teams, with the club announcing, “Orlando City B has elected to not participate in the upcoming United Soccer League (USL) Division II season. The club will continue its discussions with USL to evaluate its options for future participation in the league.”
Former OCB coach Anthony Pulis was among those who have suggested changes might be needed to the USL format, with MLS-supported teams such as OCB struggling at times to compete with independent USL teams.
The MLS B teams are development squads whose rosters can change daily based on the needs of the MLS team. Independent USL squads, meanwhile, throw all resources toward winning a championship.
“I know the ambition is to try to make it the best [Division 2] league in the world. So at some point, they’re going to have to make a decision on what they do with the MLS2 teams,” Pulis said.
“Now, with the [USL] D3 league coming in 2019, maybe they look to move all the MLS2 teams to that league. I don’t know … but that’s obviously something they’re going to have to look to address, and I think they are.”
USL announced it field 33 teams, with conferences split geographically. There will be 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 17 teams in the Western Conference.
Saint Louis FC, has moved to the Western Conference, where it will join expansion clubs Las Vegas Lights FC and Fresno FC.
The Eastern Conference will welcome four new teams this season, with ATL UTD 2, Indy Eleven, Nashville SC and North Carolina FC joining the conference.
Orlando City B is the only existing USL team that announced it would not play in 2018.
ATL UTD 2
Bethlehem Steel FC
Louisville City FC
New York Red Bulls II
North Carolina FC
Ottawa Fury FC
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Toronto FC II
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
LA Galaxy II
Las Vegas Lights FC
OKC Energy FC
Orange County SC
Phoenix Rising FC
Portland Timbers 2
Real Monarchs SLC
Reno 1868 FC
Rio Grande Valley FC
Sacramento Republic FC
Saint Louis FC
San Antonio FC
Seattle Sounders FC 2
Swope Park Rangers
Tulsa Roughnecks FC