Philadelphia Union unveil new USL side, Lehigh Valley

Philly USL

by ANTHONY J. MERCED
USL Writer

The aggressive USL expansion continues as Lehigh Valley joins Cincinnati FC and Rio Grande FC in the 2016 season.

The latest expansion team will be owned and operated by MLS club Philadelphia Union with rumors swirling that they may adopt the old Bethlehem Steel name before they start play. The announcement was made at Goodman Stadium at Lehigh University where the team very well may end up playing their games next season.

“We are extremely pleased to add yet another ownership group that is experienced in operating highly successful sports franchises to the USL family,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “It’s an honor to return soccer to not only of the most historic, but also vibrant and growing markets in the U.S.”

The historic nature of having a team return to this area cannot be understated. In the early days of soccer in the 20th century, Bethlehem Steel won four of the first seven US Open Cup championships. In recent years, the Philadelphia Union have done their part to pay homage to that history by introducing a historically inspired third jersey. Now, that acknowledgement of Pennsylvania’s historic past continues with the introduction of Lehigh Valley into the USL, the oldest active soccer league in the United States.

“This is another landmark day in the short history of the Philadelphia Union,” said Nick Sakiewicz, CEO of Keystone Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Union. “In the end we’ve chosen an extraordinarily great soccer community in Lehigh Valley that is under-served for professional soccer. By adding a USL team we ensure that our players will compete at the highest level under MLS.”

The deal puts an end to a five-year affiliation agreement between the Union and Harrisburg City Islanders.

  • BleedingRed

    well done