Promotion and relegation within USL divisions 'very interesting' - president

The USL is interested in introducing promotion and relegation between its two divisions, league president Jake Edwards says.

After securing its status as a Division 2 league with U.S. Soccer, USL plans to add a third-division league that will begin play in 2019.

And Edwards told the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News that members of the USL board are intrigued by the idea of giving a method for third-division teams to move up to the second tier.

"I think it would be very interesting to look at pro-rel between those two divisions," Edwards said. "We certainly could do it now and I think there's an interest to do it among our board.

"We are going to experiment with precursors, such as maybe some sort of inter-league competition, an inter-league cup. We're going to look at options like that to see if that works.

"To be sensible, we've got to get the structure and the quality right first at the Division 3 level. We've got to make sure we've got the right owners; stadiums that are the right size and the right quality; and we've got a number of teams, and maybe a structure, that's maybe a bit more aligned and mirrored of the second division.

"I think that's going to take a little bit of time. We'll get that done, and then I think as we're doing that, we're going to look at integration opportunities. Then, beyond that, if the structure is in place and lends itself for it [promotion and relegation], then it's absolutely a possibility."

Edwards said the USL D3 would look to launch with 10 to 12 teams, the first of which would be announced soon. USL's main league will play with 33 teams this season, including two formerly of the NASL -- the Indy Eleven and North Carolina FC.

USL has a partnership with Major League Soccer, with many MLS teams fielding reserve teams in USL. Atlanta United is adding a USL team this year, while Orlando City and the Vancouver Whitecaps have stopped their second teams this season, but Edward said the third division could be a solution.

"We've got options in our league. We've got Division 2 as is. We've got the option to affiliate with some of our new expansion clubs, which we're seeing," he said.

"And we've got the option to look at the third division, which is coming in 2019, and I know that's something that some of those clubs are looking at as well. Orlando is looking at that. But that's something we need to work with MLS on to make that a formal option for them."

The United Soccer Leagues also controls the amateur Premier Development League, and Edwards said his organization was looking toward "a real concerted effort to integrate" all three divisions in the coming months.