Friday, January 14, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. – United Soccer Leagues released the divisional alignment and schedule for USL PRO Friday, with the action slated to kick off for the 180-game regular season on Saturday, April 2. Opening weekend will be highlighted by the debut of Orlando City, which travels to face the Richmond Kickers at City Stadium. Also making their USL PRO debuts that night are Caribbean powers Sevilla FC Puerto Rico and River Plate Puerto Rico, who will see their rivalry grow as they meet at Sevilla FC Stadium.
USL PRO will feature three five-team divisions in 2011 – American, National and International. The National Division will feature the Dayton Dutch Lions, Harrisburg City Islanders, FC New York, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the Rochester Rhinos. The American Division contains the Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Orlando City, the Richmond Kickers and the Wilmington Hammerheads. Barracuda FC of Antigua and Barbuda, the Los Angeles Blues, Puerto Rico United, River Plate Puerto Rico and Sevilla FC Puerto Rico will feature in the International Division.
Teams will play 24 games in the 2011 season, facing each team in their division at least once at home and once on the road. The format for the 2011 USL PRO postseason will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Charleston Battery, 2010 USL Second Division champions, will open their season at Blackbaud Stadium on Saturday, April 9 when they play host to one of their fiercest rivals, the Charlotte Eagles. Making its franchise debut the same evening, FC New York travels to face Orlando City, while the Pittsburgh Riverhounds will start their campaign for another trip to the playoffs when they travel to face the Kickers in Richmond. The following night Puerto Rico United will make its USL PRO debut when it plays host to Sevilla FC Puerto Rico at Aguada Stadium.
Friday, April 15 will see another pair of teams make their USL PRO debuts as the Rochester Rhinos travel to Richmond and the Los Angeles Blues start a Caribbean swing at Sevilla FC Puerto Rico. Three teams open their seasons on Saturday, April 16 with the Dayton Dutch Lions, Harrisburg City Islanders and Wilmington Hammerheads all hosting home openers. The final team to make its debut in USL PRO is Barracuda FC, which plays host to Los Angeles on Sunday, April 17 at Sticky Wicket Stadium.
The final weekend of the regular season is set for Friday-Saturday August 12-13, with 12 of the 15 teams in action as the race for playoff spots winds down.
Designed to help ensure the long-term stability of professional soccer in North America below MLS, USL PRO will benefit from national television and online broadcast packages. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO will feature an unprecedented six teams with more than a decade of operational experience in 2011, and more than 100 years of combined operational experience.