Rangers and United Soccer League Two – All You Need To Know (para español, haga clic aquí)
Words: David Barr
As the sun sets on the partnership between the Little Rock Rangers and the National Premier Soccer League, a new beginning with United Soccer League’s League Two is on the horizon. Beginning in 2021, Rangers will move into the most competitive league in pre-professional soccer that the United States and Canada offers.
A track record of providing an unparalleled path to the pros is what USL League Two hangs its hat on. More than 10 teams in the Rangers’ new league have direct affiliations with professional clubs in Major League Soccer, the USL Championship and USL League One.
There are 199 USL League Two alumni competing in MLS in 2020. In the 2019 season, 382 active USL Championship players had USL League Two experience, as well as 131 players in USL League One’s inaugural season.
During the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, 61 former USL League Two players were selected by MLS clubs, making up 81 percent of all players chosen in the draft. The trend continued in the 2020 SuperDraft, with 56 League Two products (73 percent) selected by teams in the American top flight.
Additionally, 79 former USL League Two players have suited up for the U.S. Men’s National Team, including Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin, Werder Bremen forward Josh Sargent and Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
“We’re very excited to welcome Little Rock Rangers to League Two,” said USL League Two Vice President Joel Nash. “The club does tremendous work in building a pathway for aspiring professional soccer players in its local community, and we’re confident that competing in League Two can help them do so even better. They will make an excellent addition to the league.”
USL League Two is made up of more than 80 clubs in four conferences spanning from coast to coast, with new teams like Rangers being added annually. Each team plays a 14-match regular season schedule running from May through July (seven at home, seven away), which includes a 16-team postseason and the possibility of qualifying for one domestic cup tournament – the U.S. Open Cup, which Little Rock has played in previously as a member of the NPSL. Teams may also play matches outside of their conference against professional teams during the regular season just so it does not conflict with the USL League Two schedule.
Little Rock will participate in the Central Conference’s Mid South Division. The Rangers schedule will include teams from Texas and one from Mississippi within divisional play. Brazos Valley Cavalry FC ran the table in divisional play in 2019 with a final mark of 10-0-4. Divisional winners plus the highest-ranking second-place teams in each conference advance to the playoffs in late July culminating with the USL League Two Final in August.