USL Announces 2016 Conference Alignment

Graphic: USL

San Antonio FC will face two new opponents, and lose one opponent in 2017 as the United Soccer League (USL) announced the alignment of their conferences. San Antonio FC remains in the Western Conference, unsurprisingly, and will face a 32 match schedule for 2017, as the league finalized alignment on Monday.

The two teams joining San Antonio in the west are Phoenix Rising FC, a renaming of Arizona United, who will move from a baseball stadium in Peoria to a soccer specific stadium in Phoenix proper in 2017. The other team is an expansion team as Reno 1868 joins the league, still looking to build a full squad and staff.

Saint Louis’ stint in the Western Conference will be ending in 2017 as the team moves back to the Eastern Conference. That will be a 2016 opponent that San Antonio FC will not see while the other two expansion clubs, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC will play in the East.

There will be no inter-conference play in 2017, with teams only playing all of their conference compared to the rare inter conference play from 2016. The schedule will also be much more balanced in 2017 than 2016 with each team playing each other twice and then four regional rivals a third time. This means there will not be a constant run of playing Rio Grande Valley FC Toros who San Antonio FC played four times in 2016.

Also announced by the league on Monday were key dates for the 2017 USL season as they announced the USL Cup Final will be played on the weekend of November 10-12. That means the playoffs will start with the Conference Quarterfinals on the weekend of October 20-22. The regular season dates were also finalized with the season starting on March 24th and ending on October 13th, however the schedule cannot be finalized until the Major League Soccer full draw is released.

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