Tampa, Florida. The USL Championship today announced its competitive structure for the 2022 season. The league’s 27 teams will be divided into two conferences – 14 in the Eastern Conference and 13 in the Western Conference (see lists below).
34 games will be played in the regular season from March 11 to October 15, 2022. The home openers and full schedule for the 2022 USL Championship season will be announced in January 2022.
Each team will play each of its opponents in the conference twice – once at home and once outside. For Eastern Conference clubs, the remaining eight matches will be against overlap opponents – four at home and four away. For Western Conference clubs, the remaining ten matches will be against a combination of in-house opponents and conferences – five at home and five away.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the top seven teams in each conference will qualify for the 2022 USL Championship Qualifiers. The top seed in each conference will bid farewell to the semi-final stage of the playoffs. The bracket will be re-placed after the conference quarter-finals to ensure that the top seed in each conference plays against the remaining lower ranked opponent. The playoffs in the USL Championship will remain as a singles elimination, culminating in the USL Championship 2022 Final on a date to be decided between November 10 and November 14, 2022.
“We are thrilled and excited to see the tournament in a traditional two-conference format in 2022,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “This regular season format increases the importance of each match within the conference while providing an exciting variety of more matches across the conference. The imprint of the schedule allows our teams time to compete in the US Lamar Hunt Cup Open and finish qualifying before the call-ups for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
Newcomers to the USL Detroit City and Monterey Bay FC Championships will join the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively. Detroit City will be the northernmost club in the league, with its closest conference rivals being Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (291 mi), Indy Eleven (322 mi) and Louisville City FC (363 mi). Five Monterey Bay California neighbors are among the conference opponents, including Oakland Roots SC (116 miles) and Sacramento Republic FC (186 miles).