USL in Memphis; My Take

Soccer in the States

If you grew up in America as a kid, odds are highly in favor that you played some form of sports. There are many factors that probably went into which sports those were including location or economic situation. During your youth sports career you may have dabbled, taken them very seriously, or a combination of the two. For many kids, soccer is the first sport played due to its inexpensive nature and the fact that you can play with the weeds and its more cute to your family than annoying. Unlike many nations however, soccer is not number one in America. Many kids choose to focus on football, basketball or baseball when it is time to decide which to stick with. Those are the sports that are on TV and offer the scholarships and have the largest boosters supporting them at the collegiate level. Unfortunately, this has caused America to fall behind in the worldwide scheme of soccer. Nonetheless, the sport’s popularity is on the rise in the states.

Memphis to gain USL team

This week there was an official announcement that Memphis will get its very own professional soccer team beginning in the year 2019. It is not going to be an MLS team (MLS is the highest level of soccer in the US, similar to the NBA or NFL), but this team could potentially be affiliated with a MLS team as many of the United Soccer League teams are. If you are like me, you also pay more attention to the sports that are on TV or readily accessible so I knew very little about professional soccer in the US. Due to my ignorance, I did some research and highlighted my findings below.

What is the United Soccer League

  • Division II, one step below Division I (MLS) Currently there is no relegation, which is the process of teams shifting up and down in between leagues based on standings. Many people think that an open system mimicking our foreign brethren would be a productive change from our current closed system.
  • As of the spring of this year, USL teams now have the potential to be affiliated with MLS teams, and many do. There is an East and West conference and the USL has only been a sanctioned Division II league since this year. Previously it was a Division III league from 2011-2016.
  •  Here is an example of the soccer pyramidchart
  • Games are broadcast on YouTube
  • There were once talks of merging the North American Soccer League with the USL, but currently they are still two separate leagues. Technically, right now the NASL is not a Division II sanctioned league because they are in the midst of an antitrust dispute with the USSF (United States Soccer Federation) regarding proposed criteria for Division I teams. They claim that USSF and MLS are conspiring to ensure that MLS stays the only league eligible to be Division I.

What this means for Memphis

Personally, I am all about this. Having another sporting event to hang out at and drink beer with friends sounds awesome. Sports are a cause for great camaraderie. Memphis is slowly becoming a minor league sports Mecca with this USL team adding to the already existing minor league teams in the metropolitan area. It can only be a sign of the improvement of the city as a whole and give people reason to come together in a place that has seen so much strife over the years.

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