Could Seattle Sounders FC 2 be a candidate for USL Division III?

Could Seattle Sounders 2 be a candidate for USL Division III?

The deadline for USL Division III to submit their division sanctioning package for US Soccer is fast approaching. USL D3’s self-imposed deadline on announcing what teams will be joining their six founding members for their league is also fast approaching. The six teams known at this time are Chattanooga (Tennessee), Greenville Triumph SC, Madison (Wisconsin), South Georgia Tormenta FC, Toronto FC II (a current USL team), and FC Tuscon in Arizona.

On a recent episode of The USL Show, the topic of whether or not another an MLS 2 team could move to the third division when it opens was touched. Seattle Sounders FC 2 are wallowing in the basement and could use refreshing changes on and off the field and as talked about in the show, it could be a move to the USL’s D3 that reignites the Sounders 2 flame.

MLS 2 teams in USL

The general argument of MLS 2 teams in USL has been on the minds of fans of the United Soccer League for a while. Many see them as a detriment to the quality and authenticity of the league. Others see them as necessary for USL’s division two status. Whatever the case may be, the good and bad of MLS 2 teams is something dealt with every season since the influx of MLS 2 teams around 2015.

MLS 2 teams like Real Monarchs SLC, who are the affiliate of MLS team Real Salt Lake, set a higher standard for MLS 2 teams. Others, like Toronto FC II and Seattle Sounders 2, are seen as putting little to no effort into their teams and their opponents usually count their matches as victories before the ball is dropped.

For Toronto FC II, they have been used as a pawn in a weird game of chess where the league is helping maintain the lease on Capelli Stadium (Now Capelli Sport Stadium) in Rochester, New York in order for the on-hiatus Rochester Rhinos to maintain their stadium with the city but that is for another article on another day.

MLS 2 clubs have their place in the league. Teams like Bethlehem Steel, LA Galaxy II, and other direct affiliates of their parent club use the league as a tool for future MLS player development. With no pro/rel related mechanism in place, you, unfortunately, are left with both ends of the spectrum for the quality of MLS 2 teams to deal with, which can sometimes ruin the authenticity of the league.

Seattle Sounders 2 in Division III

Seattle Sounders 2 currently sit at the bottom of the table in the Western Conference. The team lacks flair, finishing, and other qualities that you would look for in an “2” team that is spearheaded by a parent club like Seattle Sounders. Their quality has lacked on the field and as a result, they could be considered the “Toronto FC II” of the Western Conference as their results are usually easy to predict and unfavorable to their supporters.

That being said, much like Toronto FC II, Seattle Sounders 2 on the field lack a heartbeat which could make them a strong candidate for D3. Obviously, with a lack of a promotion/relegation method in place and a structure like a draft or money to motivate teams to do better, you can’t do anything to teams like Sounders 2 who just don’t get the ball rolling. As well as lowering the standard of team they would play, a team in Seattle would complement FC Tuscon well, given the location of Tuscon and distance they would need to travel for away games.

Sounders 2 moving from D2 to D3 would make a lot of sense. They struggle to get a great product on the field and the quality of players, despite being an affiliate of the Seattle Sounders senior team, doesn’t help them reach higher than the bottom tier. A move to D3, depending on their 2019, could be a great chance to lessen the size of the pond while allowing them to get more benefit development wise for their players.

The strangeness of the third division

A move down to D3 for the lower tier of MLS 2 will be more appropriating competition-wise as well as player development for their squads. It poses a weird image of what USL D3 will be. A league filled with independent teams, some former amateur sides turned pro against MLS 2 teams which will likely have fringe MLS players in their teams. This brings to light the general strangeness of US Soccer’s league structuring as it’s a problem few, if any, other countries are presented with. With NPSL Pro and NISA also coming into the fold, you really wonder what the pyramid structure will be in 2019 and beyond both team and player wise.

It would be interesting to see with Division III if an under-21 age restriction is set for teams. While it would limit players from MLS moving down for rehab work (Mike Magee did this in St. Louis for a game when he was with the Chicago Fire and Maurice Edu did this moving down the Bethlehem Steel for three games recovering from a leg injury,  it would really keep your teams honest and from stacking their teams with players normally not with the team before big games which can happen with affiliates in USL.

Stranger things can happen in D3

Nevertheless, if USL D3 will be accepting more MLS 2 teams, Seattle Sounders II would be wise to consider it. The quality of players entering their team would be better off development wise against more even competition and they would shrink the rather large pond they currently swim in. With the move to D3 for MLS 2 teams, we will see much stranger things when it comes to the US Soccer pyramid in the next year than MLS 2 teams being in D3.

MLS 2 teams in D3 can tighten competition in division three, allow for senior teams to get more appropriate development and also lead USL to be stronger with its competition by helping alleviate some of the dead weight that sits at the bottom of tables every year.


Photo courtesy of L.E. Baskow/Lights FC



Brian Cook

Brian has followed Indy Eleven as a supporter since their birth and began covering the team in a number of capacities in 2015. He can be reached at or @SoccerwithBrian on Twitter.