[USL PRO] USL PRO is adding is second team in Oklahoma with the addition of an expansion team in Tulsa, slated to begin in 2015. The team will operated by the Tulsa Drillers, winner of Baseball America's Freitas Award as the top Double-A baseball franchise, and Prodigal LLC.
The Tulsa club will play its home games at ONEOK Field, which seats 7,833 for baseball games. The Tulsa Roughnecks played in the old North American Soccer League, winning the league title in 1983. A second Roughnecks played in the USL D-3 Pro League (1993-1999). OKC Energy FC will debut in Oklahoma City in 2014. The new NASL will also launch a team in Oklahoma City in 2015.
“USL PRO is thrilled about the addition of a Tulsa franchise that will feature a strong ownership group, proven executive sports management team, and excellent downtown venue all in a market with a history of support for professional soccer,” USL President Tim Holt said in a statement. “In a sport built on rivalries, Tulsa fans will immediately enjoy an intense geographic rivalry with OKC Energy FC on the field, while the two clubs collaborate off the field to grow the sport at all levels throughout the state. This represents another major step in USL PRO’s plan for stable and strategic growth into key national markets.”
USL PRO had 13 teams in 2013. The number of teams for 2014 is still undetermined. Besides Tulsa and Oklahoma City, USL PRO has added Sacramento Republic FC for 2014 and Colorado Springs for 2015. MLS's LA Galaxy is exploring plans for fielding a USL PRO team in 2014. MLS clubs are mandated to add a USL PRO team or affiliate with an existing club by 2015. The Houston Dynamo recently became the fifth MLS team to enter into an affiliate partnership with a USL PRO club when it struck a deal with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
USL PRO added two clubs in 2013 but both struggled at the gate. The Phoenix FC Wolves averaged 1,532 fans a game but attendance plummeted late in the season with the move from Arizona State in Tempe to Reach 11 Stadium, where it averaged 420 fans a game. The VSI Tampa Bay FC Flames averaged 381 fans a game in Plant City.
FC Phoenix's owners, BDR Sports, had their franchise rights pulled by the league, and it will be operated by American Soccer Marketing in 2014. VSI Tampa Bay is not expected to return in 2014. There has been no formal announcement, but its web site no longer exists. Antigua Barracuda FC is also not expected back in 2014. It played -- and lost -- all 26 games played on the road in 2013.