USL: 4 Predictions for 2015 Season


With the MLS owners and players agreeing to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, it’s time to focus on the important things; the start of the USL PRO season. One big change to the league is a new name. The USL dropped the “PRO” moniker from the title, now going with simply USL. The league has also expanded rapidly from 14 teams last year to 24 this year. Most of these new teams are teams with ownership coming from MLS teams. This further cements the relationship between the USL and MLS. Here are some of my predictions for the 2015 USL season.

Expect Northern Teams to Have a Cold Start

It has been a hard winter for just about everyone in the country, but the northern states always seem to get the worst of it. The weather has had ramifications for many teams preseasons. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds have had to cancel a few of their preseason games. Their first exhibition was March 7th, just three weeks before their first regular season game. The weather has disrupted the preseason of most teams north of the Mason-Dixon. Teams have been forced to practice indoors instead of outside. Although the players will still get touches on the ball, it will be harder for them to become match fit and gain chemistry with one another before the season starts. My prediction, the northern teams won’t be occupying any top third position with regularity until everything thaws out around May.

MLS Owned Teams Will Be Very Unpredictable

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Less of a prediction, more of a cop-out. The fact is, outside of LA II, no one knows what the teams will bring to the league. I expect LA II to continue as they did last year, dangle the prospect of a championship in front of its mix of young players and newcomers as incentive to improve. There is no guarantee that other teams will take this same approach, although certainly some will. My guess is that this will come from the teams whose owners went with something that wasn’t the “II” moniker, such as Real Monarchs and FC Montreal.

I also expect Sounders 2 to compete, simply because of how soccer mad that city is. However, some of the teams will invariably put scouting and player development ahead of winning games. Their rosters will have fewer veterans and be much more flexible, so that all of their players can get playing time. There will be no cookie cutter approach for these “farm teams.” I would even avoid using the term generally until we see what each team’s intentions are.

Most of the Independent Expansion Teams Will Struggle

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  • The exception to this rule will probably be the new version of the Austin Aztex. The other teams are all going to finish outside the playoff spots. Charlotte seems too disorganized to be able to field a competitive team. The other teams will simply fall to inexperience and a lack of resources. Austin may not be able to repeat the debut that Sacramento had last year, but they will certainly finish best out of the group.

    And The Winner Is…

    It should be noted that I live in Pittsburgh, although I doubt that has clouded my judgment. However, the team that they will play in the final will be Sacramento. They were on the up and up all of last season, and look set to avoid a sophomore slump.  With deeper pockets bankrolling the team and Preki still at the helm, they are the side to beat this year. The only team that would have challenged them was Orlando, and they have moved on to greener pastures. Any other team trying to win a title has a rather big mountain to climb.

    Yet, there is much soccer to play between now and when the USL Champion is crowned.

    Next: MLS Has Many Expansion Options

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