TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League (USL), the largest Division II professional league in the world, today announced its 2017 regular season schedule. It marks the biggest regular season in the league’s history, set to span 30 weeks and 480 games. The full schedule can be viewed here.
The USL announced last week the home openers for all 30 teams in the league, with the season set to kick off on Saturday, March 25 with a slate of 13 matches over the weekend. The season will conclude on the weekend of October 12-15 with 14 matches. The Eastern and Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs are set to kick off the following weekend.
“We are happy to unveil the regular season schedule for what is set to be the biggest and most exciting season in the league’s history,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “I’m very appreciative of the work that has been done by the staff from both the league and its clubs, and for the patience that has been shown by our fans during this process. This season will be marked by a number of heated rivalries, and new clubs and venues, with all the thrill and drama that has become the hallmark of USL soccer. The countdown to the new season is now officially underway.”
Among the early-season highlights is the first meeting in the battle for the River Cities Cup, which will see FC Cincinnati play host to Louisville City FC on April 22 at Nippert Stadium. 2016 USL attendance leader Cincinnati – which set a league record for single-game and single-season attendance – claimed the series between the clubs a season ago on goal differential, and will be looking to get an early upper hand on its regional rival in front of its outstanding home support.
Other games to watch early in the season include a postseason rematch between Sacramento Republic FC and Orange County SC at Bonney Field on April 1, and the first Keystone Derby of the season when the Pittsburgh Riverhounds host the Harrisburg City Islanders on April 29.
A rematch of the 2016 Eastern Conference Final between the defending USL Cup champion New York Red Bulls II and Louisville City FC will take place on June 10, the same night that a new rivalry will kick off when expansion side Reno 1868 FC hosts Sacramento Republic FC. Meanwhile, defending USL Western Conference champion the Swope Park Rangers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 will meet for the first time since their Western Conference Final last season on May 5.
Inter-conference play again features prominently on the schedule, with USL debutants the Tampa Bay Rowdies making the trip to San Antonio FC’s Toyota Field on October 7 for what could be a key showdown in the final regular-season stretch for both clubs. Another inter-conference game to watch will be Saint Louis FC’s clash with the Swope Park Rangers at World Wide Technology Soccer Park on August 5 as the rivalry between the Missouri clubs is renewed, while the New York Red Bulls II and LA Galaxy II will meet for the first time on May 14 at the Red Bulls II’s new home, the Pittser Soccer Complex.
The final weekend of the season sees a number of derby contests that could shape the field for the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs, with the Charlotte Independence set to host the Charleston Battery, San Antonio FC to host Rio Grande Valley FC, Reno 1868 FC to host Sacramento Republic FC, and the Rochester Rhinos to play host to the New York Red Bulls II.
The 2017 USL Season will also feature a number of nationally televised matches for the second year in a row. Specific network and start times for the national and locally televised matches be announced in the coming weeks. In addition, through the launch of USL Productions, the league’s $10 million investment in state-of-the-art broadcast production facilities, all USL matches will be available via the USL Match Center, along with up-to-the-minute match statistics provided by industry leader Opta.