When their respective 2020 seasons begin this spring, USL Championship and USL League One will see several new or rebranding clubs take the pitch.
There have been changes to the lineup of teams in both Division II USL Championship and Division III USL League One, which include the addition of new clubs, a few departures and several rebranding teams. In this story, we will note some of the rebrandings taking place among existing clubs, along with the additions and subtractions in each league, providing an overview of where things stand going into the 2020 season.
In USL Championship, three clubs have changed their names for 2020. The Bethlehem Steel FC brandwas retired, with the club becoming Philadelphia Union II. This rebranding aligns with the team’s facilities situation, as it will share Talen Energy Stadium with its MLS parent for the second straight season after moving from Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium.
A similar rebranding took place for the former Swope Park Rangers, who are now known as Sporting Kansas City II. Like Union II, Sporting Kansas City II shares a home venue with its MLS parent, with the club playing matches at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS.
The Tulsa Roughnecks name has been retired, with the club now known as FC Tulsa. The team has been rebranded on the heels of an ownership change, as brothers and Tulsa natives JW Craft, Ryan Craft and Kyle Craft were introduced as the club’s new owners in August.
Although its name remains unchanged, Charleston Battery has overhauled its look with a new logo. This is one part of a larger series of changes for the organization leading up to the 2020 season, as new ownership, HCFC, LLC, was announced in October, along with a move to the College of Charleston’s Patriots Point Soccer Complex in Mount Pleasant.
There have also been a few lineup changes for USL Championship, which will field 35 teams in 2020 after 36 competed in 2019. Expansion San Diego Loyal SC joins the circuit, while Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group sold franchise rights to former NASL squad Miami FC, with the team to resume play at Riccardo Silva Stadium. This move came after OSEG suspended Ottawa Fury FC’s operations amidst sanctioning issues.
Nashville SC will not return to USL Championship in 2020, with the brand to be used by an MLS expansion squad that begins play this season. Additionally, Fresno FC will sit out the 2020 season, though the organization could resume play in a new market as early as 2021.
USL League One has also seen a few changes, including the addition of three expansion teams: Union Omaha SC, New England Revolution II and a Fort Lauderdale-based squad backed by MLS’s Inter Miami CF. Union Omaha SC will play at Werner Park, home of Minor League Baseball’s Omaha Storm Chasers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). Revolution II will share Gillette Stadium with its MLS parent, while the Fort Lauderdale club will join the MLS side in a new stadium at the former Lockhart Stadium site that will anchor the organization’s training academy.
For 2020, USL League One will field 12 teams. Nine of the 10 teams that competed in the league’s inaugural season last year are returning, with Lansing Ignite FC shutting down operations after the 2019 season. Of the returning clubs, a few are changing facilities, which we noted in a recent story.