Fresh off a tremendous year on and off the field, expansion-side Atlanta United are looking to make another big move to secure their long-term viability and future.
Multiple sources tell Metro that Atlanta is looking to add a USL team ahead of the 2018 season. One league source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that things are trending “in a positive direction” for Atlanta to add a team in the USL.
The USL is home to a number of independent clubs as well as several organizations run by MLS teams as true reserve squads. The New York Red Bulls II, owned and operated by the original MLS club in the market, won the USL title last year. They were the first reserve squad to do so.
The USL is currently in the third year of its affiliation with MLS. It is one of the most highly visible second division leagues in the world.
Nearly every MLS team that doesn’t have its own reserve club in the USL has an affiliation with a team in that league. This year, Atlanta sent several players on loan to the Charleston Battery, a team with a unique history all of its own.
This year as an expansion franchise, Atlanta shattered league attendance records. The club also made the MLS Cup Playoffs, being eliminated by the Columbus Crew a week ago in the Knockout Round.
The addition of a USL squad to further develop young talent would be a big part of building on this year's success.