After our NPSL version of this post blew up for SmallWorld standards, I thought it would be great to do another edition with a different league.
USL League Two has seven announced clubs so far, and SmallWorld is adding First State FC Midnight Riders to the fray, even though they’re an NPSL team. They were announced just after our NPSL post and they’re funny on Twitter, so I think they deserve a chance to be involved here as well.
And we felt bad for Austin United, the NPSL club that was announced recently as well, so now they’re in this thing too. We’re too nice here at SmallWorld.
As with the previous post on the NPSL, this is an entirely subjective and opinion-based ranking of the following teams. Feel free to voice your own opinions on SmallWorld Social!
Without further ado, here’s the list of nine more clubs entering semi-pro play this summer, ranked by my excitement to see them in play during the 2020 season.
9) TFA Willamette (Albany, OR) – TFA could be an interesting club, but so much is still unknown as of yet. They’re is a youth system juggernaut in the area, and they seem to have a pretty unique strategy to their youth teams. However, their social media presence is, as would be expected of a youth club, not up to par with other League Two clubs. Time will tell if the level of TFA’s website, socials, and media presence improves, but as of now, this club is just a question mark. Also, not a very big fan of their logo. Hopefully they come out with a separate one for the League Two arm of the organization.
8) Southern Soccer Academy Kings (Marietta, GA) – The most exciting thing for me personally about SSA’s expansion is an opportunity to cover/follow another lower-league club in my local area. SSA is definitely a well-known and expansive youth setup across north Georgia, so I think they’re well-prepared to make this addition and complete the Path 2 Pro. However, past history of this type of club warns me that SSA may not put much effort into the USL2 club. Innocent until proven guilty, and I’ll definitely give the Kings their fair shot at winning me over strictly because of their location, but the signs say otherwise so far.
7) Austin United FC (Austin, TX) – The Flyers are a complete question mark in my book. This is definitely a cool location for a lower-league club, and I’ll be interested to see how they compete with the MLS expansion side for attention. They have some interesting people on their coaching staff with scouting experience in Mexico’s Liga MX, so that could translate to some high-quality talent on the pitch and maybe a different set of tactics from the rest of the league. However, they’re anything but a known entity, and all too often, being unknown can be closely related with being unlikely to last. Hopefully, Austin United can bring a new flavor to the NPSL!
6) Philadelphia Lone Star FC (Philadelphia, PA) – I’m confused out of my mind by Lone Star. What I do know for sure is that they’re very well-established and have a lot of different opportunities for local players to get on a national league roster. With the news of this expansion, they are now fielding teams in four national lower leagues (USL2, NPSL, WPSL, and UPSL). I simply must commend them for their focus on player opportunities, but club culture seems lacking a bit when compared to some really awesome fellow expansion clubs. The Stars do have an intriguing Liberian heritage, but supporter culture isn’t well-documented by the club if it does exist. I’m definitely going to keep my eye on this situation, though, if only because of its uniqueness.
5) First State FC Midnight Riders (Wilmington, DE) – This club seems pretty cool, and I love their social media presence already. They seem to have the makings of a fun addition to the lower-league soccer community. On the other hand, though, I’m cautious to put my excitement here on the same level as that of some other community-minded clubs. In the NPSL especially, there’s a high standard of community involvement and passionate fan support at the upper echelon of clubs. First State FC has some work to do to get to that level, but it’s certainly within their reach.
4) Asheville City SC (Asheville, NC) – Honestly, the best part about this club seems to be its supporters group, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. The South Slope Blues have a great name and an even greater impact on the community, as far as I can tell. They look like they really back the club and the community of Asheville, and that’s always cool to see. The club as a whole has a good track record of community involvement, and I think they could step in and perform well in League Two from the jump. I’m looking forward to seeing what they put forth in 2020.
3) South Bend Lions FC (South Bend, IN) – There’s something that’s really drawing me to the Lions as one of my favorite new clubs this summer. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re brand-new and starting life in League Two. Maybe it’s the fact that there isn’t much to go off of with them yet. Maybe it’s the fact that there seems to be a good opportunity in this market for a good lower-league club. Whatever it is, and even though I can’t really justify this, I think South Bend might just become one of the top clubs in the league sometime soon.
2) AFC Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI) – Michigan is making major moves in minor league soccer, and the Mighty Oak is playing a large part in that. They have a clear community focus, do a great job with player development, feature a women’s side, and sport a clean look that defines the concept of “less is more”. Ann Arbor feels like a family, and I think they have the quality of leadership to be a strong addition to USL2.
1) Oakland County FC (Clawson, MI) – From the moment I found Oakland’s expansion package on Twitter, I fell in love with the branding effort the club put together. The color scheme is fantastic, the logo is beautiful, and it all just bleeds passion and poise. Outside of appearances, Oakland County has all the pieces to be an exciting new addition to the limelight of lower-league soccer. They’ve got just enough history to seem solid, but also boast a fresh look and appear ready to take advantage of a big opportunity to establish themselves. They’re supporter-owned, have a pretty passionate fanbase, and for all these reasons, I’m stoked to see what they have in store this summer.
There you have it, ladies and gents! Oakland County FC is the top-ranked club on my list of USL League Two expansion sides I’m excited to watch and support. They join Tallahassee FC as fellow winners of the two editions of these rankings, as Tallahassee topped the group of NPSL’s expansion teams.
Be sure to let me know what your rankings of these sides are! Show your club some love if you support one of the teams featured in this post.
As always, support local soccer, unify those around you, and seek out diversity!