USL News Release
Thursday, December 4, 2008
TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues announced that the defending USL Second Division champion Cleveland City Stars are moving up to the USL First Division beginning in the 2009 season, becoming the first USL-2 side to move up the ladder since the Charlotte Eagles in 2001.
“We are delighted to be the latest addition to the USL First Division for the 2009 season,” said Cleveland City Stars General Manager Mark Geissbauer. “After winning the USL-2 Championship last year and the success of our franchise on and off the field, this was the most logical decision to make. We know that this is going to be a big step for our still fairly young franchise, but we are looking forward to the challenge of competing at the highest level in the USL system and bringing the USL-1 into a flourishing market like Cleveland.”
Heading into their third season of play, Cleveland has been an elite side in the USL Second Division since day one, suffering just one regular season loss in their debut 2007 campaign (10-1-9) before a semifinal round defeat. In 2008, the City Stars finished 10-3-7 and went on to capture the league championship with victories over the second-seeded Richmond Kickers and the regular season champion Charlotte Eagles.
The Eagles made a similar ascension to the USL First Division in 2001 after capturing the league championship in 2000. Charlotte made the postseason in two of three seasons in the upper flight before returning to USL-2 in 2004.
“Our promotion of the USL-2 Champion Cleveland City Stars is a function of their high-level competitive and organizational performance over the past two seasons,” said Executive Vice President and COO Tim Holt. “The City Stars have clearly demonstrated they are prepared for the challenge of competing and operating at the USL First Division level and instantly strengthen the league. This is just one more example of the benefits of a USL’s multi-level system of leagues which involve the movement of teams up and down the pyramid in a manner that best aligns with the growth of their club over time.”
A pioneering club, Cleveland became the first North American side to see an affiliated team forged in their image with the recent announcement of the ownership change of a Kenyan First Division team that is adopting the name Nairobi City Stars and a matching logo to Cleveland’s shield featuring the cityscape sitting atop a row of stripes and the globe.