Ahead of the release of the official season schedule, the USL has released the conference alignments for the upcoming Championship season. In 2021, the 31 teams will compete across four divisions from the traditions East and West conferences. The divisions represent the league’s attempt to manage the on-going effects of the pandemic by limiting excessive travel for teams still greatly affected by the’s limitations on attendance and team logistics.
The divisional draw caught a lot of fans in the east by surprise. Many longtime fans of Atlanta United 2 have become accustomed to seeing regional rivals like Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, and Tampa Bay as regulars on the schedule but this year, Atlanta United will face a largely unfamiliar group of teams.
Sporting KC II (formerly Swope Park Rangers) will be the only other MLS developmental team in the group. Louisville City FC and Indy Eleven are perennial top teams in the league. Birmingham Legion, Memphis 901 FC, Tusla, and Oklahoma City are all veteran sides who will likely be physically and technically more developed than many of the 2s players. Overall, this is a very challenging group that will test our young players early and often.
Each team will play 32 matches over 27 weeks with all teams beginning their season somewhere between April 24 and May 15 depending upon local conditions. Teams will play divisional opponents four times – twice home and away. For Atlanta United 2 and other teams in the Central Division, the four remaining games will be played against regional or cross-conference opponents. Those four matches may bring back regional rivals from the Atlantic Division or other developmental rivals like the Red Bulls II.
All matches will be available on ESPN+ and some matches will be made available for in-person attendance.
Let us know which new USL Championship opponents you are excited to see. Do you like this draw for our young group of academy and developmental prospects?