USL Championship soccer: The rapid rise

USL soccer’s saw a record 750 members, a new USL Championship team, and several stadium announcements. USL is rising, rapidly. Blink and you’ll miss it.

USL has expanded rapidly beyond the careful, calculated pace of MLS. Yet the faster-paced USL has made their expansion work as they mount their largest-ever winter summit in Florida where more than 750 members attended. They are not to be outdone by the debut of David Beckham’s Inter Miami in MLS this spring.

USL soccer has taken Miami FC from the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) out of the shadow of Inter Miami in MLS and brought it intol the USL. Miami FC acquired Ottawa Fury FC and the new version of the team will compete in the USL Championship (Division 2) beginning March 2020.

Miami FC will play in the 20,000-seat Riccardo Silva Stadium in the heart of Miami. They established their move into the higher-level of competition in USL Championship by winning the Eastern Conference of NISA. They went 4-0-2 (W-L-D) in the six-game season, which is an impressive record.

But now their new venture will feature 17 games at home alone. It is a size and stature of competition that the team is not yet used to and will have to seriously prepare for this offseason.

Yet, for all the hard work that is required, it is also a terrific opportunity. Miami FC president and general manager Paul Dalglish said the move up in competition and large venue will enable the club to build on what already is an army of supporters. Top brass from Miami FC were front and center at the USL winter summit. The league is excited to welcome them.

Other topics were covered at the summit, from ticketing, communications, social media, merchandise to full team operations. This year’s summit even included a job fair to populate the growing soccer universe of the USL.

It is because of detailed and organized planning such as this annual summit that USL has been able to manage their rapidly growing complex of teams and divisions of competition, now numbering three: Championship, League One and League Two. In addition, there is an Academy.

Besides growing in teams and competition, USL is growing in stadium capacity and attendance expectations. Miami FC will play its first USL game in a 20,000-seat venue.

OKC Energy FC has just gotten voter approval for a $37 million, 10,000-seat stadium in Oklahoma, the announcement being made during the summit, while the Colorado Springs Switchbacks announced a stadium deal of their own. Their organization has broken ground on a new 8,000-seat multi-use stadium in the city’s downtown.

To stay in the public eye, USL has a system to plan accurately and also plan big. So far, they’ve been able to execute the plans rapidly. So don’t blink. You will miss USL growth.