USL Preview: What's new in 2016

The USL kicks off Friday when Sacramento Republic FC travels to Seattle Sounders 2 and expansion Bethlehem Steel FC plays at FC Montreal. Bethlehem FC is one of six new teams as the USL has expanded to 29 teams. For a look at all the new teams, owners and stadiums as well as the new coaches.
 
NEW TEAMS.
Bethlehem Steel FC. The Philadelphia Union second team is named after the original Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club many considered America’s first great soccer team with five U.S. Open Cup victories. It will play at Goodman Stadium in the Lehigh Valley. Former Union assistant coach Brendan Burke will coach the Bethlehem Steel.

FC Cincinnati.
Carl Lindner III, formerly the owner of the Cincinnati Reds, is among the owners of the team that will play at the University of Cincinnati’s recently renovated Nippert Stadium. FC Cincinnati, coached by former U.S. national team John Harkes, has sold more than 4,000 season tickets.
 
Orlando City B. Orlando City returns to the USL, operating its second team at Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne, Fla. The head coach will be Anthony Pulis, who played as a midfielder for the Lions in the USL.
 
Rio Grande Valley FC. The hybrid team is owned by Alonzo Cantu, owner of the NBA Developmental League Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and will be stocked by the Houston Dynamo. The Toros, who are constructing a 10,000-seat stadium in the heart of Edinburg, Texas, hired Wilmer Cabrera, the former Chivas USA head coach.

San Antonio FC. The San Antonio Spurs' ownership group stepped in and bought Toyota Field, the soccer-specific stadium built in 2013 by the NASL Scorpions. The goal is to get an MLS expansion team. San Antonio FC hired former Elon University coach and Orlando City SC academy director Darren Powell as head coach.

Swope Park Rangers. Sporting Kansas City’s second team will play at Swope Soccer Village, the nine-field, $20-plus million complex also hosts reigning NWSL champion FC Kansas City. Former Ottawa Fury coach Marc Dos Santos will coach the Rangers.
 
NEW OWNERS.
Charleston Battery. The Battery was purchased by Eric Bowman of B Sports Entertainment, a locally owned and privately held company. Improvements to MUSC Health Stadium on Daniel Island started in January. They include a new electronic message board, a major overhaul of the stadium’s audio system and an upgrade to digital infrastructure.

Rochester Rhinos. The 2015 champions were sold to local real estate developers David and Wendy Dworkin in March after the USL terminated the ownership of the Utica banker Rob Clark's Adirondack Sports Club early in January. A key to the transaction was the Dworkins reaching an agreement with the city of Rochester on a 10-year lease on Sahlen's Stadium for which more than $1 million of renovations have already been put into place ahead of the 2016 season.

Arizona United SC. Grammy winner Diplo has joined the investment group headed by Kyle Eng and Brett M. Johnson.

NEW STADIUMS.
Harrisburg City Islanders. After playing at Skyline Sports Complex for the last  11 years, the City Islanders will split time in a pair of baseball stadiums in 2016: 10 matches at FNB Field in Harrisburg and five matches at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster.

NEW COACHES.
Portland Timbers 2. Andrew Gregor replaced Jay Vidovich, who returned to college soccer as the Pitt head coach. Gregor served as a T2 assistant coach during the inaugural season in 2015 and also guided the Portland Timbers Academy U-16 and U-18 teams for parts of the past two seasons.

Wilmington Hammerheads. Mark Briggs was promoted to head coach after serving as the assistant coach under Carson Porter in 2015. Porter stepped down from the role following the end of the season.

Arizona United SC. Former MLS coach Frank Yallop (San Jose, LA Galaxy and Chicago) was hired as head coach and president of soccer operations on a three-year contract.
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