The United Soccer Leagues, which currently operates the Division II USL and amateur PDL, has announced plans to launch a new pro Division III league in 2019.
The USL will target
communities ranging in population from 150,000 to one million. The move comes after the USL, a former Division III league, was provisionally approved to have Division II status along with the NASL.
“We are in a unique position to lead the sport’s next phase of growth with a proven and exciting competition model, the same which has made the USL the top Division II
league in North America,” said CEO Alec Papadakis
in a statement. “With elite competition and strong ownership groups providing unrivaled fan experiences, the USL will
continue shaping the future of professional soccer through a third-division league, cultivating and bonding local supporters through the ‘beautiful game’ for generations to come.”
For 14 years (1996-2009), the USL operated leagues at Division II (USL Select, then A-League and USL First Division) and Division III (USL Professional, then USL D-3 Pro, USL Pro Soccer and
USL Second Division) with various names.
Three teams from the last season of its 2009 Division III league -- Richmond, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg -- still survive while only two teams from
the 2009 Division II league -- Charleston and Rochester -- still play in the USL. (Three 2009 USL Division II teams play in MLS and one plays in the NASL.)