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Here’s what the USL Championship’s 2021 division alignment might look like

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An attempt to see how the divisions would shake out.

Courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC.

The USL announced last week the Championship’s alignment for the scheduled 2021 season is to be four divisions.

It’s a departure from 2020’s remix plan of four or five-team groups, which was a solid idea for sheer expediency purposes but led to teams facing the same opponents again and again and admittedly, some very disparate groups.

So, what will the four groups look like? We’ll have to see how the league doles out the assignments, but here’s my attempt at figuring out how the four groups will be divided up. Obviously it’s just a guess at this point:

Division 1:

Division 2:

  • New Mexico United
  • Real Monarchs
  • Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
  • El Paso Locomotive
  • San Antonio FC
  • Rio Grande Valley FC
  • Austin Bold

Division 3:

  • Hartford Athletic
  • New York Red Bulls II
  • Loudoun United
  • Pittsburgh Riverhounds
  • Charlotte Independence
  • Charleston Battery
  • Atlanta United 2
  • Birmingham Legion

Division 4:

  • Miami FC
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies
  • Memphis 901
  • Louisville City
  • Indy Eleven
  • Sporting Kansas City II
  • FC Tulsa
  • OKC Energy

With the current makeup of the league at 31 teams, these divisions are uneven, with three holding eight teams and the other seven. There have been rumblings that more teams will drop out of the division or cease operations altogether, which will obviously alter divisions accordingly if that happens.

You’ll notice that I put the Oklahoma teams in a division with Eastern Conference teams. I couldn’t figure out a way to logically keep the regional rivalries together and keep them in the West, and I would expect that Tulsa and OKC will want to be able to play each other. Given the middle-of-the-countryishness of the rest of that division, aside from the two Florida teams, I think you can make a case it works as well as the old days when California and Oklahoma teams played each other.

By putting Sacramento Republic in a group of largely West Coast teams — logically — the actual division turns out to be pretty stacked. While Reno 1868 have gone out of business, there are only two MLS2 teams in my mooted division and one of them, LA Galaxy II, is coming off a season in the playoffs and beat Sac Republic last year. We don’t know how the newcomers Oakland Roots will perform, but they’ll likely become new rivals for Sacramento.

So there you have it. What do you make of my divisions? How would you tinker? Leave a comment below.