League’s Fifth Season Features 24 Teams In Two Conferences
USL PRO unveiled its 336-game 2015 regular season schedule today, with its 24 teams kicking off their pursuit of the 2015 USL PRO Championship during an expanded regular season on Saturday, March 21.
With its unprecedented off-season growth, which included the establishment of professional soccer in several new markets and the addition of seven MLS owned and operated clubs, USL PRO has split into 12-team Eastern and Western Conferences in 2015. Teams face each of their conference opponents at least twice during the 28-game regular season schedule, and the additional six games (beyond the standard home and away against the other 11 intra-conference foes) will be matchups against geographic rivals resulting in several cross-conference contests.
“With the remarkable growth of the league during the offseason, this schedule reflects the increased focus on regional rivalries,” USL PRO Executive Vice President Jake Edwards said. “We are excited that many of the league’s home openers will give away fans the opportunity to follow their teams on the road to start the season and provide a truly special atmosphere. We expect a great year of action as the league’s regular-season schedule expands to 27 weeks.”
The opening weekend will see a trio of games, with three of the seven MLS-owned expansion teams making their debuts. Sacramento Republic FC begins its title defense on Saturday, March 21 as it travels to face Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Starfire Stadium, while Toronto FC II will visit Blackbaud Stadium for the Canadian side’s USL PRO debut against the Charleston Battery. Real Monarchs SLC will kick off its first USL PRO campaign on Sunday, March 22 as it visits the LA Galaxy II at StubHub Center.
The season’s second weekend sees Sacramento make its home debut with a rematch of a classic 2014 semifinal contest when the LA Galaxy II visit Bonney Field on Saturday, March 28.
That same weekend also sees the debut of the 10 remaining 2015 expansion teams, with the action kicking off Friday, March 27 as the Charlotte Independence welcome the Charleston Battery to the Queen City. Nine games are on tap for Saturday, March 28, including a pair of matches featuring all expansion competition as the Austin Aztex host Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at House Park and Louisville City FC welcomes Saint Louis FC to Louisville Slugger Field.
Regional rivalries will also be a focus of the action on March 28 as Tulsa Roughnecks FC plays host to OKC Energy FC at ONEOK Field in the battle of Oklahoma, the Rochester Rhinos travel to face the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, FC Montreal welcomes Toronto FC II to Saputo Stadium, and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds host the Harrisburg City Islanders at Highmark Stadium in a renewal of the Keystone Derby.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 and the Portland Timbers 2 are the final USL PRO newcomers to make their debuts when Vancouver visits Sounders FC 2 at Starfire Stadium and the Timbers 2 welcome the Real Monarchs SLC to Merlo Field on Sunday, March 29.
The regular season concludes the weekend of September 19-20, with seven games on tap as the fight for playoff positions concludes. The 2015 USL PRO postseason will see the top six finishers in each conference moving on to the four-week single-elimination playoffs.