On Monday, Grant Wahl produced an article chronicling USL President Jake Edwards’ plans for expansion of its three leagues - USL Championship, USL League One, and USL League Two - leading up to the 2026 World Cup. Within that plan includes Edwards’ desire to eventually have 80 teams in the USL’s top two divisions: 40 teams in the USL Championship and 40 in USL League One. USL Championship currently operates as America’s second division league, below Major League Soccer, while USL League One is classified in the third division.
Furthermore, Edwards hopes that each independent USL team (those who aren’t MLS second teams) will have established their own youth academies, with eventual promotion/relegation once the leagues top out at 40 teams.
Jake Edwards explained the probable expansion process moving forward for the USL’s top two leagues:
“We’re looking at the ideal number [in the Championship] somewhere around 38 or 40, and that’s where we’re going to top out and cease expansion. What that means is there will be a number of teams—probably 10 or 12—currently in our Championship that will come out of our league over the next years and go into League One.
“That leaves us with about 15 expansion spots for the Championship between now and 2026...We’re happy to say that supply is limited, and the demand is extremely high … I think forward, and in five years time we’re going to look at a professional soccer landscape very similar to other countries around the world that have great stadiums, not just in the top division but in the couple divisions below.”
So, today’s Community Corner is to discuss the USL’s plan. Does it make sense? Is 80 teams too much for 2 divisions, or are they on the mark? Is your city in the mix for a USL Championship or USL League One side? Could the growth of USL youth academies help young United States internationals get playing time and develop before they move to MLS or abroad? Hit the comments and let us know what you think of this bold plan by the United Soccer Leagues.