The United Soccer League announced Tuesday that FC Tucson will join USL Division III as one of the league’s founding members, and is the first team to join the Western Conference. A formal announcement will be held in Tucson later this year.
FC Tucson becomes the first Division III team to have a formal affiliation with a USL team, as Phoenix Rising FC owns FC Tucson.
It has not been determined when FC Tucson will begin play in Division III, as the league will wait until more teams in the West are added.
“We’re on the front lines of the growth of professional soccer in the U.S., and we see tremendous
potential for professional soccer in Tucson,” Dr. Mark Leber, a Tucson native and part of the Phoenix Rising FC ownership group said in a release. “The city has proven time and again, through its successful MLS Preseason tournament and support of FC Tucson in the PDL, that there is an appetite for professional soccer in the market. At Phoenix Rising FC, we intend to continue raising the bar for the quality of soccer in the state, and launching a professional team in Tucson will help us establish a true player development pipeline.”
FC Tucson has been a successful franchise playing in the USL PDL since 2012, amassing a record of 53-15- 18 in the regular season and 5-5 record in the PDL Playoffs. They won three PDL Mountain Division Championships (2014, 2015, 2017), a Southwest Division Championship (2016), were three-time PDL Western Conference Finalists (2014, 2015, 2016) and competed in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup four times (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017).
FC Tucson has also been successful in hosting the MLS Preseason in Tucson since 2011, including the hosting of the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, playing to sellout crowds over the years.
FC Tucson’s entry follows the announcement of South Georgia Tormenta FC last week, the first team to join the newly created league.
“FC Tucson’s move to USL Division III demonstrates the visionary ownership that exists within the USL system, and I applaud the club’s leadership for recognizing the opportunity to continue growing their clubs and the communities in which they operate,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a release. “We are thrilled to have FC Tucson as a founding member of USL Division III alongside South Georgia Tormenta FC, and expect the club to continue its tremendous record of success from the Premier Development League.”