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Thank You, Fans, For a Historic Year

By ALEC PAPADAKIS, USL Chief Executive Officer, 12/04/17, 10:18AM EST

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Supporters have led banner season for the USL on and off the field


Photo courtesy Jim Oberg / Las Vegas Lights FC

Dear USL Fans,

On behalf of everyone at the USL, I would like to personally thank you for the major contribution each of you has made to what has been a banner season for the league. As we and our teams prepare to gather in downtown Tampa for the USL Winter Summit, we have all had the chance to reflect on the incredible past 10 months, both on and off the field. All the achievements over the past year have continued to reinforce the league’s growing reputation both in the United States and Canada, and overseas.

Beginning in January, when the USL received Division II sanctioning by the U.S. Soccer Federation, our growing momentum allowed us to reach more viewers, and welcome more fans to our venues than any Second Division in North American soccer history. The remarkable support you bring to our clubs – especially those of you in the supporters’ groups we see week-in and week-out that provide a tremendous atmosphere to the league’s games – invigorates all of us to push for even higher levels of achievement in the future as we continue to bring professional soccer to the passionate fanbases from coast to coast.

2017’s Top USL Storylines – Record Attendance

In addition, the successful debut of USL Productions helped elevate our visibility all season long. We were able to deliver the excitement and thrill of the USL to more than 10 million homes through the USL Television Network. The league’s partnerships with ESPN and SiriusXM FC elevated our national presence, with USL regular season games carried across linear platforms for the first time since our inaugural season, a nod to our growing popularity within the American soccer community.

The league’s success is also due to the contributions of our world-class ownership groups, which have resulted in the opening of four new soccer-specific stadiums this year alone. Together, we are committed to creating the proper infrastructure for fans to enjoy games in outstanding venues, and our work has continued across many of our local markets. We greatly look forward to the next generation of venues that will create an unparalleled soccer experience for all our fans.

2017’s Top USL Storylines – New Venues

Our clubs’ investments in the on-field product has raised the level of competition within the USL, exhibited by the increased number of USL players earning international caps around the world. Our league’s excellence was evident all year long - from Louisville City FC’s first USL Cup victory, to FC Cincinnati’s run to the Semifinals of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, to the USL players who helped Jamaica reach the final of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the level of play in the league has never been higher. The 2018 season is poised to continue that trend, and we are excited to see what the new year brings as we enter our eighth season.

Next year we welcome another strong group of clubs to the league, with the arrival of Fresno FC, Las Vegas Lights FC, Nashville SC, North Carolina FC and a club operated by Atlanta United as we continue to move toward a three-conference model in the future. Our league’s ownership groups will be further strengthened by these new additions, and together we will work toward becoming one of the most recognized second divisions in the world.

We wish you all a happy holiday period, and look forward to seeing you soon when the 2018 USL season begins this March.

Best Regards,

Alec Papadakis
Chief Executive Officer
United Soccer Leagues

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