United Soccer League Two (USL 2), formerly known as the Premier Development League (PDL), begins play tonight in Grand Prairie when defending champion Brazos Valley Cavalry travel to face Texas United. United has played a unique and challenging preseason schedule that featured matchups against USL Championship sides. Brazos Valley, fielding a roster primarily composed of Houston Dynamo Academy players, comes off of a tough 1-0 loss to Laredo Heat in U.S. Open Cup action Tuesday night in Laredo.
USL 2 consists of 74 teams playing in four regional conferences throughout the U.S. and Canada. The league is part of what is unofficially called the 4th-tier of the U.S. Soccer Pyramid. USL 2 primarily serves as a place for college (and some high school) players to prepare themselves for the upcoming season while maintaining amateur eligibility. After the rebranding, USL 2 has taken additional steps to integrate with its affiliated professional leagues and brands itself as a “Path2Pro” opportunity for its players. The league site touts that more than 70% of the Major League Soccer College Super Draft selections since 2010 have previously played in League Two. The league announced recently that they are expanding their scouting network in 2019 and will send monthly reports to professional clubs with updates on USL 2 prospects.
Five Texas USL2 teams are joined by Mississippi Brilla to form the Mid South Division of the Southern Conference in 2019. Two teams from the 2018 Mid South Division, FC Cleburne and OKC Energy U23, have elected not to play in 2019, necessitating a reorganization that returns Brilla back to the Mid South where they played from 2014-2017. Brazos Valley Cavalry is the Mid South defending champion.
Each Mid South team plays an unbalanced, compressed 14-game regular season extending from mid-May to mid-July. Playoffs follow at regional locations with the Semifinals and Final held in early August at a single location. Calgary, Alberta based Foothills FC was crowned overall PDL Champion last season.
Six Mid South players were featured in the USL League Two 2019 Top 100 Players to Watch list: AHFC Royals forward Johannes Oeksnevad, Brazos Valley defender Mark Lindstrom and forward Phillip Goodrum, Corpus Christi goalkeeper Carlos Mercado and Mississippi Brilla midfielder Arturo Astorga and forward Nicolas Cam.
2019 Mid South Division Team Profiles
(Years in USL2/2018 record)
AHFC Royals (Houston)
(2nd year) 7-7-0-21 points-3rd place
First match: Monday, May 13 at Houston FC
Head Coach: Josh Gardner
Home Stadium: British International School-Houston
Brazos Valley Cavalry (Bryan/College Station)
(3rd year) 9-2-3-30 points-1st place
First match: Saturday, May 11 at Texas United
Head Coach: Kenny Bundy
Stadium: Travis Field
Corpus Christi FC
(2nd year) 6-6-2-20 points-4th place
First match: Friday, May 17 home vs. AHFC Royals
Head Coach: Sebastian Giraldo
Stadium: Dugan Stadium/Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
(3rd year) 2-8-4-10 points-7th place
First match: Monday, May 13 home vs. AHFC Royals
Head Coach: Bruce Talbot
Stadium: Sorrels Field-Houston Baptist University
Mississippi Brilla (Clinton, MS)
(13th year) 8-2-4-28 points- 2nd place (Deep South Division)
First match: Thursday, May 16 home vs. Texas United
Head Coach: Luke Sanford
Stadium: Arrow Stadium-Clinton High School
Texas United (Grand Prairie)
(3rd year) 5-6-3-18 points-5th place
First match: Saturday, May 11 at home vs. Brazos Valley
Head Coach: Arez Ardalani
Stadium: Air Hogs Stadium
A link to the complete 2019 USL 2 regular season schedule can be found below: