The offseasons for the USL and the NASL are winding down, as both circuits approach the starts of their respective 2017 campaigns.
Across the soccer landscape, the offseason has been particularly busy. From MLS expansion bids, to the decision by the U.S. Soccer Federation to grant the USL and NASL provisional Division II status for 2017, there has been no shortage of soccer news over the past few months.
One trend that was very evident this offseason was rebranding. In both the NASL and USL, teams prepared for new eras by rolling out revamped logos and identities that will reshape their images going forward.
In the NASL, the biggest change was the one undertaken by the Carolina RailHawks, who are now known as North Carolina FC. The switch was announced in December, when owner Steve Malik also revealed plans to submit an MLS expansion bid and to acquire an NWSL franchise. Malik followed through on his intention with the NWSL plans—the Western New York Flash are becoming the North Carolina Courage and moving to Cary, NC for the 2017 season—and has filed an application for an MLS expansion franchise.
A very similar development took place in the USL, where Arizona United SC announced in November that it was becoming Phoenix Rising FC. In the time since, Rising FC governor Berke Bakay and his group have proceeded with an MLS expansion bid, which could lead to a new stadium and adjacent soccer complex.
Another change that took place is that of Orange County SC. In January, the former Orange Blues FC announced their new identity, just a month after revealing a new partnership with Los Angeles FC.
Of course, there will be some other new names to watch in both leagues, as some expansion clubs are about to debut. In the NASL, the San Francisco Deltas are set to begin play this year. As our Jon Bruning detailed last year, the Deltas will play this season at historic Kezar Stadium and are backed by an ownership group that includes CEO Brian Andres Helmick.
In the USL, Reno 1868 FC will be new on the scene. First announced as an expansion entry in 2015, the club will play its home games at Greater Nevada Field, which also hosts Minor League Baseball’s Reno Aces.
The USL will also be taking on two clubs from the NASL—Ottawa Fury FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, both of which have shifted leagues for the upcoming season.
With a new mix of names and teams slated for both leagues, the complexions of the NASL and USL will be slightly different this season. When the 2017 campaigns finally begin, the changes that occurred over the offseason will be display for fans to see in live action.
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