USL continued its offseason of unprecedented change on Tuesday, with the league unveiling a new name and look ahead of the 2015 season while also announcing it's intent to pursure second-division status.
A partner of Major League Soccer, United Soccer Leagues announced that it will now be officially known as USL instead of USL PRO and revealed a new logo, which features a simple, geometric design that – like the new MLS logo – can be customized with the colors of each of the league’s 24 clubs.
USL also announced that it will apply this year for US Soccer’s Division 2 sanctioning “to accurately reflect the quality of our league, our ownership groups, our stadiums and our fans.” USL is currently the third-tier of US Soccer, with the NASL holding Division 2 status.
The 2015 USL season will see the debut of 13 new USL clubs, seven of which are owned and operated by MLS teams. In all, eight USL teams are owned and operated by MLS clubs, with LA Galaxy II set to enter their second season in the league and FC Montreal (Montreal Impact), New York Red Bulls II, Portland Timbers 2, Real Monarchs SLC (Real Salt Lake), Seattle Sounders FC 2, Toronto FC II and Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 set to debut this year.
The 12 MLS clubs that don’t own and operate their own USL team are all affiliated with a USL club. MLS clubs will be able to loan players back and forth from their senior roster to their USL club/affiliate throughout the 2015 season.
In 2014, 101 MLS players spent time with various USL sides, logging over 67,000 minutes of playing time. Four MLS players that spent time with USL clubs last year – the LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes and Oscar Sorto, D.C. United’s Steve Birnbaum and Sporting Kansas City’s Jon Kempin–earned call-ups to the US men’s national team’s most recent training camp, with Zardes and Birnbaum featuring for the USMNT in friendly matches.
USL is set to begin its 2015 season on March 21, with the Charleston Battery hosting Toronto FC II and Seattle Sounders FC 2 facing off with defending champions Sacramento Republic FC. The entire 2015 USL schedule can be found here.
Every USL game, including the ones featuring teams owned by MLS clubs, will be streamed live on Youtube.