Miami: The lower tiers of US club soccer will be reorganised along the lines of the English Football League in 2019, the United Soccer League announced Tuesday, but there are no immediate plans to introduce promotion and relegation.
The USL said in a statement that from next season the USL would be divided into three parts — the Championship, League One and League Two.
Thirty-three teams will play in the Championship, while 11 sides would take part in League One, eventually expanding to 20-25 teams.
The third tier, or League Two, would be reserved for players under 23.
The United Soccer League is officially sanctioned as a second tier competition by the United States Soccer Federation, leaving it below Major League Soccer in the US club football pyramid.
The USL partnered with MLS in 2013, a move which allows several MLS reserve teams to play in USL’s top division.
The USL said it was prioritising development of its leagues before considering the introduction of promotion and relegation.
“Currently the USL is focused on establishing a successful new third division in USL League One to help fill out the professional US soccer structure, which is a necessary precursor to any implementation of a promotion and relegation system,” it said.
“That said, the new structure does lend itself well to some form of promotion and relegation in the future.”
USL president Jake Edwards told ESPN in an interview that the decision to follow the example set by the lower divisions of English football had been taken to help create clear identity for each league.
“I think the football fans in North America are very savvy, very switched-on, they understand that structure, and they’re very familiar with what they’ve seen overseas [with the EFL],” Edwards said.