USL PRO, a subdivision of United Soccer Leagues, is currently sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation as the third level in the North American soccer pyramid. It began play in 2011, and after its 2013 round of expansion now comprises 13 teams. The Charleston Battery are the league’s reigning champion.
One of the teams, Antigua Barricuda F.C., plays all 28 of its matches on the road. The team is closely associated with the national team of the independent Caribbean nation of Antigua Barbuda, and the USL PRO club is supported by its government.
MLS PARTNERSHIP: In January 2013 USL PRO and Major League Soccer announced a multi-year, phased agreement to integrate MLS Reserve League play into the USL PRO system. In its first year, MLS teams received several options for cooperation with USL PRO, ranging from formal affiliation to player loans to adding a home-and-away series. Charleston has not yet signed an agreement with an MLS squad, but will play the Houston Dynamo Reserves twice in 2013. The matches will count in the USL PRO standings. The agreement eventually will direct MLS teams to either affiliate with a USL PRO side or to field an independent reserve team that will compete in the league.
EXPANSION: The league added teams in Tampa, Fla., and Phoenix, AZ, for the 2013 season. A club in Sacramento, Calif., will join the league in 2014.