The New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC announced the formation of USL Pro franchises on Wednesday. The league, North American soccer's third tier, also unveiled its 2015 format, which features a two-conference alignment for its 24 teams.
Toronto FC II will play in the Eastern Conference and hold its home matches at the Ontario Soccer Center while training at the MLS club's Kia Training Grounds. Former Canadian international Jason Bent was named Toronto FC II's head coach in November.
The Red Bulls' club, whose name has yet to be announced, will also play in the USL Pro's Eastern Conference. It is the eighth MLS-owned USL Pro team. The Red Bulls' club will train at the MLS team's facility in East Hanover, N.J., but it's venue for home games has not been announced.
The full USL Pro schedule for 2015 will be revealed this month. Teams will face each of their conference opponents at least twice over the 28-game regular season.
“Transitioning to a conference-based structure is consistent with our long-term growth strategy and enabled by the rapid expansion of the league,” USL PRO Executive Vice President Jake Edwards said. “This new format will promote regional rivalries, allowing fans greater opportunity to support their clubs home and away as the league continues to bring its brand of professional soccer to enthusiastic markets throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“With 12 teams qualifying for the playoffs in 2015, more USL PRO fans will have the opportunity to experience the special atmosphere that is created by the league’s knockout tournament post-season format.”