The USL PRO winter meetings have been rather interesting these last couple years ever since the third division linked up with Major League Soccer. Soccer blog Reckless Challenge was able to obtain some major information from this year's meetings that the third division is going to eventually apply for D2 status in the US Soccer pyramid.
The USL was once the second division in the US structure behind MLS before splitting off with what it now known as the NASL back in 2011.
A lot of this move has to do with the league's ties to MLS. Next year several MLS clubs will start up their own USL PRO team in the third division, while the rest of the league lines up affiliates within the league. Currently the league is roughly a third MLS-owned teams, a third affiliates and a third independent clubs.
USSF could grant both the NASL and USL PRO that status (some national structures have the lowest pro tier as multiple leagues, usually regional). Meeting the requirements of D2 would be rather tough for the USL PRO as 100% of the league has to meet these items:
- 75% of markets must be in metro areas over 750,000
- Stadia must seat 5,000 or more
- Financial disclosures and a primary owner (35%+) worth at least twenty million dollars
Right now, roughly 85 percent of USL PRO teams meet those standards according to the report from Reckless Challenge. Then again some the of the 'standards' could change to allow for more teams to be qualified for this status.
There are definitely some good benefits for the USL PRO to move back into the D2 status. The level of play should improve along with the quality of player.
Would you like to see the USL PRO jump back into D2 status?