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USL sets Championship's 2022 conference alignment, season format

By USL Communications, 12/21/21, 12:00PM EST

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The new campaign kicks off March 11 with a full schedule arriving in January.


Photo: Courtesy of Connor Cunningham

The USL Championship on Tuesday announced its competition structure for the 2022 season. The league’s 27 teams will be divided into two conferences – 14 in the Eastern Conference, among them Louisville City FC, and 13 in the Western Conference.

A 34-game regular season will be played from March 11 to Oct. 15, 2022. Home openers and a full schedule for the 2022 USL Championship season will be announced in January.

Every team will play each of its conference foes twice – once at home, once away. For Eastern Conference clubs, the remaining eight games will be against inter-conference opponents – four at home, four away. For Western Conference clubs, the remaining 10 games will be against a combination of inter-conference and intra-conference opponents – five at home, five away.   

At the conclusion of the regular season, the top seven teams in each conference will qualify for the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs. The first overall seed in each conference will receive a bye to the Conference Semifinals. The bracket will be reseeded following the Conference Quarterfinals to ensure the first overall seed in each conference plays against the lowest-seeded remaining opponent.

The USL Championship Playoffs will remain a single-elimination format, culminating in the 2022 USL Championship Final on a to be determined date between Nov. 10 and Nov. 14.

“We are pleased and eager to see the Championship in a traditional two-conference alignment in 2022,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “This regular season format increases the importance of each intra-conference match while also providing the variety and intrigue of more cross-conference matchups. The schedule footprint allows our teams time to compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and finish the playoffs prior to call-ups for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”

USL Championship debutants Detroit City FC and Monterey Bay F.C. will join the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively. Detroit City will be the league’s northernmost club, with its nearest conference opponents being Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (291 mi.), Indy Eleven (322 mi.), and LouCity (363 mi.).

2022 USL Championship Alignment

Eastern Conference

Atlanta United 2
Birmingham Legion
Charleston Battery
Detroit City FC
Hartford Athletic
Indy Eleven
Loudoun United FC
Louisville City FC
Memphis 901 FC
The Miami FC
New York Red Bulls II
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Tampa Bay Rowdies
FC Tulsa

Western Conference

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
El Paso Locomotive FC
LA Galaxy II
Las Vegas Lights FC
Monterey Bay F.C.
New Mexico United
Oakland Roots SC
Orange County SC
Phoenix Rising FC
Rio Grande Valley FC
Sacramento Republic FC
San Antonio FC
San Diego Loyal SC


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