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2009 USL-1 season details unveiled
New championship format, season schedules announced

USL News Release

Friday, January 23, 2009

TAMPA, FL -- United Soccer Leagues announced the details for the 2009 USL First Division season. USL unveiled the alignment, playoff details, and regular season and Fox Soccer Channel schedules for the 2009 competition, which will conclude with a championship series in October.

Defending champ Vancouver faces Charleston Opening Day (Josh Devins)Set to kick off with 11 teams, including the expansion Austin Aztex and promoted Cleveland City Stars, on April 11, the USL First Division will again see each team play 30 matches with three against each opponent. The season will come to a close September 20 with seven teams advancing to the postseason. Not returning to the USL First Division are the Seattle Sounders (MLS expansion) and the Atlanta Silverbacks.

The biggest change will be the expansion of the two-leg, aggregate score series format, used in earlier rounds in USL-1 since 2000, to the USL First Division Championship. It will mark the first time the format will be used for a top-level US-based league since the North American Soccer League’s 1970 season. That season the Rochester Lancers were victorious in the first leg 3-0 at home against the Washington Darts, but survived on the road in a 3-1 second leg defeat to capture the title 4-3 on aggregate.

USL-1 Regular Season Schedule (pdf) [+]                USL on Fox Soccer Channel Schedule (pdf) [+]

“The advancement in the quality of teams on and off the field in the USL First Division has given us the opportunity to bring this great format to the league, allowing fans of both teams to experience the championship,” said USL First Division Senior Director Chris Economides. “The great series recently in Mexico’s Apertura Championship series that saw Cruz Azul rally from a 2-0 first leg deficit with two goals against Toluca in the second half of the second leg only to be denied in penalties was a fantastic example of the drama that can be witnessed in this format. We’ve seen numerous thrillers in the aggregate series format in the past eight years and we look forward to a captivating USL-1 Championship in 2009.”

The Commissioner’s Cup winners as regular season champions will automatically be seeded into the Semifinals with the remaining six sides squaring off in the First Round. The teams will be paired in the Semifinals with the lowest remaining seed playing the regular season champion.

The USL on Fox Soccer Channel schedule, which will include five episodes of the behind-the-scenes show USL Breakaway in 2009, opens with the Montreal Impact visiting the Miami FC Blues Friday, April 24 at 8:00 pm ET. The schedule continues with the two new teams over the next two weeks as Cleveland plays host to the Rochester Rhinos May 1 and the Austin Aztex welcome the Puerto Rico Islanders May 8. Fox Soccer Channel’s schedule also includes the championship games for the W-League (August 7), Premier Development League (August 8) and USL Second Division (August 29). The schedule concludes with second leg matches from the USL-1 Quarterfinals and Semifinals and both legs of the USL-1 Championship. The 2009 campaign will mark the eighth straight year USL’s top league will be featured on America’s premier soccer network.

Team
HOME Opener
 
SEASON Opener
Austin Aztex
vs. Minnesota
4/18
 
--
 
Charleston Battery
vs. Montreal
4/18
 
@ Vancouver
4/11
Cleveland City Stars
vs. Rochester
5/1
 
@ Miami
4/18
Carolina RailHawks
vs. Minnesota
4/11
 
--
 
Miami FC Blues
vs. Cleveland
4/18
 
--
 
Minnesota Thunder
vs. Vancouver
5/2
 
@ Carolina
4/11
Montreal Impact
vs. Rochester
5/9
 
@ Charleston
4/18
Portland Timbers
vs. Carolina
4/30
 
@ Vancouver
4/25
Puerto Rico Islanders
vs. Vancouver
4/18
 
--
 
Rochester Rhinos
vs. Montreal
5/30
 
@ Carolina
4/18
Vancouver Whitecaps
vs. Charleston
4/11
 
--
 


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