USL Pro, America's third professional soccer league and official partner of Nike Soccer, rebranded as USL Tuesday and said it had applied to become a Division 2 league with US Soccer.
The rebranding comes as the USL prepares to add 13 teams and markets this year, including in Austin, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Louisville, Montreal (Impact), New York (Red Bulls), Portland (Timbers), Saint Louis, Salt Lake City (RSL), Seattle (Sounders FC), Toronto (FC), Tulsa, and Vancouver (Whitecaps FC).
USL said the new clubs will enable it to pursue a more sustainable business model by allowing for more regional competition, reducing travel costs and further strengthening local and regional rivalries.
The league also unveiled an improved web site that will serve as a destination for in-depth coverage of the league. Increased interactive content will include video, live games in HD on YouTube, in-game statistics, and the league’s all-new social media hub. We are United. Through its partnership with YouTube, all USL matches will be broadcast live and in HD exclusively on USL's Youtube Sports channel. The accessibility of live video will showcase the league and its players, coaches, and fans, while connecting the clubs and partners to a global audience, and present them with opportunities to reach additional fans from throughout North America and the world.
USL disclosed it will apply for USSF to re-establish its Division 2 status to accurately reflect the quality of the league, the ownership groups, the stadiums and the fans. US Soccer's board voted unanimously in 2010 not to sanction either USL or NASL as to play at the Division 2 level.
The sustainable business model continues to attract dynamic and experienced ownership groups that work together to support and enhance what we do every day. This year, the USL will also make the first of a number of exciting announcements about new commercial partnerships that will add value to the league, the clubs, and the fan experience.
The league has already selected Nike Soccer as its official apparel and equipment provider.
Building soccer-specific stadiums is another key initiative, with the goal to have all teams as the owners or primary tenants of soccer-specific venues by 2020. The league is now working with selected clubs to create a series of “Fan Fests” aimed at turning USL stadiums throughout the U.S. and Canada into cultural hubs for their communities.