Expansion: A look at 25+ clubs joining US soccer leagues in 2018

#GrowTheGame. MLS may be only adding one club in 2018, LA FC, but across the divisions, more than 25 new teams will be hitting the pitch this year.

Within the expansion world in US soccer, three stories will capture the majority of the headlines in 2018. First, the debut of LA FC in their brand new stadium and the launch of a rivalry with the LA Galaxy. Second, watching future MLS side Nashville SC’s debut in the USL. And third, the eventual selection of the next expansion side from Cincinnati, Sacramento, and Detroit.

However, beyond the MLS level, US soccer expansion is booming. In 2018 alone there will be over 25 new clubs joining the game. Here’s a rundown of what to expect as of early January.

MLS

The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) will make their debut in just under two months. Their first match is a made-for-TV, opening-weekend match, as they travel to Seattle to take on the Sounders on national television. The club will open the new Banc of California Stadium on April 29 vs. the Seattle once again.

With Bob Bradley returning the league, the front office has already built an impressive debut roster – Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, Benny Feilhaber, Omar Gaber, Laurent Ciman, and more.

USL

In 2017, the USL cemented its place as the D2 league in US Soccer. With over 30 clubs and 2 million in attendance, the league’s profile grew tremendously over the past 12 months. That will continue will several high profile additions for the 2018 campaign.

  • Atlanta (A yet to be named team, owned by MLS’ Atlanta United)
  • Fresno FC
  • Las Vegas Lights FC (check out their owner, Brett Lashbrook, talking with the Free Kicks Report podcast a few months back).
  • Nashville SC (the future MLS side)
  • North Carolina FC (a fromer USL club, re-joining from NASL)

NASL

While the NASL is still embattled in the lawsuit against US Soccer, the league does have two expansion sides set to start play – if there is a league.

  • California United FC (Fullerton, CA)
  • San Diego 1904 FC

If NASL fails to get D2 sanctioning in 2018, will these sides look to push for D3 status for a year, or possibly apply to play in NPSL?

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USL D3

The league won’t kick off until 2019, but visited over 20 markets during 2017 that are interested in bringing clubs to the new division 3 league. League officials stated that during the first half of 2018 announcements would be made regarding the league’s name, sanctioning for 2019, and the first team announcements.

PDL

Over the past few weeks, two new clubs were added to the list. While lower requirements to join, D4 soccer is booming over the past few seasons. PDL could end up starting the 2018 season with 80 clubs.

  • Lionsbridge FC (Virginia Peninsula)
  • Ogedn City SC (Ogden, Utah)
  • Corpus Christi FC (TX)
  • AHFC Royals (Houston)
  • Lansing United (MI) (Also looking to make the jump to USL D3 in 2019)
  • SF Glens SC (San Francisco)
  • Kaw Valley FC (Kansas)

NPSL

Not to be outdone, the NPSL is announcing new clubs this offseason at a staggering pace. The league will feature over 100 clubs in 2018, and is rumored to be a target for the upcoming NISA league as a possible D4 in a future promotion and relegation pyramid.

  • FC Baltimore (Baltimore, MD)
  • Greenville Football Club (Greenville, SC)
  • El Farolito (San Francisco, CA)
  • Academica Soccer Club (Turlock, CA)
  • Katy 1895 FC (Katy, TX)
  • Football Club Davis (Davis, CA)
  • Charlottesville Alliance FC (Virginia)
  • Saint Louis Club Atletico (St. Louis, MO)
  • Northern Virginia United FC (Leesburg, VA)
  • Atlantic City Football Club (ACFC)
  • Laredo Heat Soccer Club (Laredo, TX)