[USL PRO] The Rochester Rhinos, the 2010 USSF D-2 Pro League regular-season champions, are leaving the NASL for USL PRO, the United Soccer Leagues' new professional division, where they will be joined by the Austin Aztex, who were second in the overall D-2 Pro League standings and will move to Orlando, where they will be known as Orlando City in 2011.
“The Rochester Rhinos are one of the top soccer success stories in North America, and it’s only fitting that they continue to add to their accomplishments as a member of USL PRO,” USL president Tim Holt said in a statement. “The tradition between the Rhinos and USL dates back 15 years, and no other team has enjoyed the level of success Rochester has achieved during that time. This is a great addition for USL PRO.”
Aztex president Phil Rawlins said the move from Austin to Orlando was "a very, very bittersweet decision for us. The fans in Austin have given us fantastic backing and fully deserve pro soccer." He said the club had been actively seeking to broaden its investment base for the past 12 months.
USL PRO hopes to have as many as 20 teams playing on a regional basis in 2011.
The core consists of teams from the USL-2 ranks, including the 2010 champion Charleston Battery, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Richmond Kickers, Harrisburg City Islanders and Charlotte Eagles. Dayton Dutch Lions, a first-year PDL team in 2010, will also play in the USL PRO.
Three teams are based in the league's Caribbean Division: Sevilla Puerto Rico, River Plate Puerto Rico and Barracuda FC of Antigua & Barbuda.
With the departure of Rhinos and the MLS-bound Vancouver Whitecaps, the NASL, which is seeking Division 2 sanctioning from U.S. Soccer, is down to a core of six teams -- Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Miami FC, Montreal Impact, FC Tampa Bay and the Puerto Rico Islanders -- in its initial filing with U.S. Soccer.