The 2019 season marks the start of a significant change and rebrand for the United Soccer League, with its top three divisions unifying under one identity and structure. The three divisions that will comprise the USL are: USL Championship, USL League One, and USL League Two.
Eleven clubs have joined USL League Two, the top Under-23 men’s league in North America, so far for the 2019 season: Cedar Stars Rush, Dalton, Daytona SC, Discoveries SC, Florida Elite Soccer Academy, Green Bay, Manhattan SC, Park City, Sarasota, Virginia Beach United, and Wake FC.
The Long Island Rough Riders will play in the Eastern Conference Mid Atlantic Division for the second consecutive season. The Eastern Conference is comprised 23 clubs divided among three divisions: Northeast, Mid Atlantic, and South Atlantic.
Mid Atlantic Division
The Mid Atlantic Division will be home to: Cedar Stars Rush, Evergreen FC, FA Euro New York, Lehigh Valley United, Long Island Rough Riders, New York Red Bulls Under-23, Ocean City Nor’easters, and Reading United AC.
Located in northern New Jersey, Cedar Stars Rush joins the prior seven members who competed in the PDL Eastern Conference Mid Atlantic Division in 2018.
Reading United AC finished atop the division at 12-0-2 (38 points) with New York Red Bulls U-23 (10-3-1; 31 points), and the Rough Riders (9-4-1; 28 points) rounding out the top three. Red Bulls U23 scored a division-high 45 goals, while Reading United had the best defense by allowing just eight goals. The Rough Riders had the second-best defense with 16 goals allowed.
Reading United AC advanced all the way to the 2018 PDL Championship, losing 4-2 aet to Calgary Foothills FC.
The Northeast Division will be comprised of: AC Connecticut, Black Rock FC, Boston Bolts, GPS Portland Phoenix, Manhattan SC (new for 2019), Seacoast United Phantoms, Westchester Flames, and Western Mass Pioneers.
Black Rock FC won the division at 9-2-3 (30 points) as GPS Portland Phoenix (7-4-3; 24 points) and Western Mass Pioneers (6-4-4; 22 points) rounded out the top three. Black Rock scored a division-leading 33 goals, while Western Mass Pioneers had the best defense with 18 goals allowed.
South Atlantic Division
The South Atlantic Division makeup will be: Carolina Dynamo, Lionsbridge FC, North Carolina FC Under-23, Tobacco Road FC, Tri-City Otters, and newcomers Wake FC and Virginia Beach United.
Myrtle Beach Mutiny, which won the division in 2018 by going 8-2-4 (28 points), folded in November. North Carolina FC U23 (6-3-5; 23 points), and Lionsbridge FC (4-5-5; 17) rounding out the top three. The Mutiny scored 40 goals – second most in the Eastern Conference – while North Carolina FC U23 had the division’s best defense with 18 goals against.
BY: Michael LoRé