Saturday, February 2, 2008

The United Soccer Leagues First Division (often referred to as simply, USL-1) is a professional men's soccer league in North America. It is the second division of soccer in the United States and Canada league pyramid behind Major League Soccer. It is managed by the United Soccer Leagues (USL). It was known as the A-League until 2004, having formed from teams from the original A-League.
Unlike most other nations, there is currently no system of promotion and relegation in American soccer.

USL First Division History
In 1998, the A-League consisted of 28 teams. By 2006, only 12 remained in the USL First Division. For the most part, the teams that left dropped down to lower classifications, such as the USL Second Division and Premier Development League, to rid themselves of the high costs of travel and player payrolls.
There is some speculation that several First Division clubs are waiting for the top-tier Major League Soccer to expand, in hopes that they will move up. The First Division does not have the promotion/relegation system common in most countries' football pyramids, although teams theoretically could move up if they meet MLS' criteria for expansion franchises. The costs of moving to a higher division are usually not recouped with higher attendance at the First Division level. The Rochester Rhinos have often been regarded as being closest to gaining promotion because of their purpose-built stadium, but the team has not indicated any interest in going much further. Speculation has also recently surfaced that the Vancouver Whitecaps might be considered for promotion when their new soccer-specific stadium is completed, especially given the success of MLS' first Canadian franchise, Toronto FC.
On January 26, 2006, the USL announced that it was expanding USL First Division in 2007 to include a new team in Cary, North Carolina. The Cary franchise, since named the Carolina RailHawks, hosted an exhibition schedule in 2006 in advance of its first full league schedule in 2007. On May 16, 2006, it was also announced that the USL would place a team in Northern California under the ownership of Dmitry Piterman, chairman of Spanish team Deportivo Alavés. Other possible cities mentioned for future campaigns include Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Syracuse, New York. Syracuse had had a highly-attended team from 2002–2004, but it folded due to stadium issues, having ground-shared with the local baseball team. Ft. Lauderdale also has a history of teams from the NASL, ASL, and USL First Division. There is also discussion that Argentinian team River Plate is interested in putting a second USL team in Puerto Rico.
On March 30, 2007 the Virginia Beach Mariners team folded just prior to the start of the 2007 season due to an ownership dispute which left the team without financing. USL may place a team in the area in 2008, if local ownership can be found.

Expansion and contraction

Playoff format
Stars indicate derby titles won
Cascadia Cup
Southern Derby
Voyageurs Cup

Vancouver Whitecaps
Seattle Sounders
Portland Timbers
Atlanta Silverbacks
Charleston Battery
Carolina Railhawks
Vancouver Whitecaps
Montreal Impact League Derbies

Atlanta Silverbacks (1997-current, as Atlanta Ruckus in 1997-98)
Boston Bulldogs (1997-2000, as Worcester Wildfire in 1997-98)
Calgary Mustangs (2002-04, as Calgary Storm in 2002-03)
California Jaguars (1997-98)
California Victory (2007)
Carolina Dynamo (1997)
Carolina RailHawks (2007-current)
Charleston Battery (1997-current)
Charlotte Eagles (2001-03)
Cincinnati Riverhawks (1998-2003)
Colorado Foxes (1997)
Connecticut Wolves (1997-2001)
Edmonton Aviators (2004, as Edmonton F.C. at the end of the season)
El Paso Patriots (1997-2003)
Hershey Wildcats (1997-2001)
Indiana Blast (1999-2003)
Jacksonville Cyclones (1997-99)
Lehigh Valley Steam (1999)
Long Island Rough Riders (1997-2001)
Maryland Mania (1999)
Miami FC (2006-current)
Milwaukee Rampage (1997-2002)
Milwaukee Wave United (2003-04)
Minnesota Thunder (1997-current)
MLS Project 40 (1998-2000)
Montreal Impact (1997-1998, 2000-current)
Nashville Metros (1997-2001, as Tennessee Rhythm in 1999-2000)
New Orleans Storm (1997-99, as New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers in 1997)
Orange County Waves (1997-2000, as Orange County Zodiac in 1997-99)
Orlando Sundogs (1997)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds (1999-2003)
Portland Timbers (2001-current)
Puerto Rico Islanders (2004-current)
Raleigh Express (1997-2000, as Raleigh Flyers in 1997-98)
Richmond Kickers (1997-2005)
Rochester Raging Rhinos (1997-current)
Sacramento Geckos (1998-99, as Albuquerque Geckos in 1998)
San Diego Flash (1998-2001)
San Francisco Bay Seals (1998-2000, as Bay Area Seals in 2000)
Seattle Sounders (1997-current)
Staten Island Vipers (1998-99)
Syracuse Salty Dogs (2003-04)
Toronto Lynx (1997-2006)
Vancouver Whitecaps (1997-current, as Vancouver 86ers in 1997-2000)
Virginia Beach Mariners (1998-2000, 2002-2006, as Hampton Roads Mariners 1998-2000, 2002) Complete team list

California Jaguars
Cape Cod Crusaders
Carolina Dynamo
Chicago Stingers
Connecticut Wolves
Delaware Wizards
El Paso Patriots
Hampton Roads Mariners
Long Island Rough Riders
Milwaukee Rampage
Minnesota Thunder
New Mexico Chiles
New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers
New York/New Jersey Stallions
Ohio Xoggz
Raleigh Flyers
Reno Rattlers
Richmond Kickers
Sacramento Scorpions
South Carolina Shamrocks
Tampa Bay Cyclones (becomes Jacksonville Cylones in 1997) 1996 USISL Select League

Flag of Mexico Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Seattle
Flag of Mexico Byron Alvarez, Charleston
Flag of El Salvador Raúl Díaz Arce, Puerto Rico and Charleston
Flag of Canada Mauro Biello, Montreal
Flag of Honduras Alex Pineda Chacón, Atlanta
Flag of Jamaica Fabian Dawkins, Montreal
Flag of the United States Joey Gjertsen, Vancouver
Flag of the United States Andrew Gregor, Portland
Flag of the United States Ben Hollingsworth, Charleston
Flag of Canada Jason Jordan, Vancouver
Flag of the United States Roger Levesque, Seattle
Flag of Guatemala Mario "Loco" Rodriguez, Miami
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago Marlon Rojas, Atlanta
Flag of Brazil Romario, Miami
Flag of Liberia Melvin Tarley, Puerto Rico
Flag of the United States Scot Thompson, Portland
Flag of the United States Cam Weaver, Seattle
Flag of Brazil Zinho, Miami Notable players

Past Regular Season Champions (Commissioner's Cup Winners)

Rochester Raging Rhinos (5 app, 3-2);
Minnesota Thunder (4 app, 1-3);
Milwaukee Rampage (2 app, 2-0);
Seattle Sounders (2 app, 1-1);
Richmond Kickers (2 app, 0-2);
Charleston Battery (1 app, 1-0);
Montreal Impact (1 app, 1-0);
Vancouver Whitecaps (1 app, 1-0);
Carolina Dynamo (1 app, 0-1);
Hershey Wildcats (1 app, 0-1) Past Playoff Champions / Top Goal Scorer

1996: California Jaguars 2-1 (SO) Richmond Kickers 1996 USISL Select League

Regular season / playoffs
2006: 4,667 /
2005: 4,527 / 12,498
2004: 3,879 / 9,402
2003: 3,335 / 9,672
2002: 3,034 / 8,902
2001: 2,954 / 9,193
2000: 2,684 / 7,562
1999: 2,374 / 5,309
1998: 2,531 / 6,091
1997: 2,690 / 5,092 USL First Division All-Time USL Leaders
Sports attendances

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