The United Soccer League continues expand and its 27th franchise will call Bethlehem, Penn., home.
The Philadelphia Union recently announced that the Major League Soccer team was awarded the USL’s 27th franchise, which will play its home games at Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem.
“This is another landmark day in the short history of the Philadelphia Union,” said Nick Sakiewicz, Union CEO and operating partner. “This was a decision that we carefully studied and analyzed all possible options. In the end, we’ve chosen an extraordinarily great soccer community in the Lehigh Valley that is underserved for professional soccer.”
According to Sakiewicz, that addition of a USL team will ensure that Union players will compete at the highest level under MLS.
“It’s of the utmost importance that at every level of the Union organization we challenge our players with competition in the top professional environments,” he added.
The team’s name, crest and colors will be unveiled at a later date pending a fan vote that will open in September.
Lehigh Valley is the latest addition to USL, as the league currently sits at 24 teams during the 2105 season. Two new teams for next season have also been announced, FC Cincinnati and Rio Grande Valley FC. Philadelphia become the ninth MLS team to independently own and operate a USL club, while 11 other MLS clubs have affiliations in the league.
“We are extremely pleased to add yet another ownership group that is experienced in operating highly successful professional sports franchises to the USL family,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “With sophisticated ownership and the passionate sports fans of the Lehigh Valley, this club has the formula for major achievements on and off the field.”