The United Soccer League and the Player’s Association agreed on a proposed return to play last week and a format that’s, well, unorthodox. In order to complete a 16-game regular season, the 35-team league has been divided into 8 groups.
There are five groups made up of four teams and three that are made up of five. The groups that have four teams will play everyone in their group four times. The groups with five teams will play everyone three times. This brings the total to 12 games and then an additional four games will be played against teams from outside of the group to reach a total of 16. Teams who played one or two games before the shutdown will have those games included in their record and will play either one or two games less in the out-of-group play. Still following along?
The 8️⃣ Championship groups are .— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) June 26, 2020
↓ - ↓ pic.twitter.com/xcUaoyLSTT
At the end of the season on October 2-4, the playoff bracket will be set. 16 teams will face off in a group winner vs. group runner-up format with playoff games being single elimination.
The Timbers 2 have one of the youngest rosters in USL. Of course senior players will be dropped down for minutes but it seems the overall mindset behind the Timbers 2 team has shifted to player development with several academy players and draft picks making up a bulk of the roster. The Timbers announced the signing of defenders Pablo Bonilla and Zac McGraw last week having impressed enough in Timbers 2 and first-team training to make the jump to the first team roster. Bonilla, a fullback from Venezuela brings a wealth of youth international experience with Venezuela and could compete for a starting job form jump given Jorge Moreira’s return to River Plate.
McGraw, a 6’4” center back was a third-round 2020 draft pick. The Torrence, California native has the honorable distinction of becoming the first graduate from the U.S. Military Academy to sign an MLS contract.