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 United Soccer League One

USL League One Kicks off Tonight

March 17, 2023 - United Soccer League One (USL1) News Release

South Georgia Tormenta FC celebrates its 2022 USL League One Final victory
South Georgia Tormenta FC celebrates its 2022 USL League One Final victory
(South Georgia Tormenta FC)

The 2023 USL League One season kicks off this weekend, ushering in a new era for the league that includes more matches, two new clubs, and more exciting talent than ever before.

So many storylines...

Defending champions South Georgia Tormenta FC will hope to build off the momentum that saw them enjoy the biggest turnaround in league history, going from 11th place in 2021 to a title championship run in 2022. Once again, they're led by Kazaiah Sterling, the former Tottenham Hotspur striker who was the MVP of the 2022 USL League One Final.

New clubs Lexington SC and One Knoxville have yet to kick a ball, but the rivalry is already feisty. The two will square off on the opening weekend, vying for a newly created trophy - a huge whiskey barrel. Plus a bottle of bourbon, of course.

The Richmond Kickers - one of the country's oldest continuously operating clubs - enjoyed a record-breaking campaign in 2022, laying claim the League One Players' Shield, awarded to the club with the best regular-season record. Argentine forward Emiliano Terzaghi notched 17 goals last year as he became the first player in American outdoor professional soccer history to be named league MVP in three consecutive seasons. Can he make it four in a row?

What we're watching for on opening weekend

The season kicks off on Friday night when defending champions Tormenta FC travel up to face a revamped North Carolina FC squad. In addition to the aforementioned Sterling, Tormenta FC have brought in Brazilian midfielder Matheus Cassini, who led Forward Madison's attack last season. NCFC will hope for production from a trio of 2022 All-League selections that joined in the offseason.

Players' Shield holders Richmond hit the road on Saturday to take on the Charlotte Independence in the Queen City. Fireworks should be in order, as Charlotte attacking depth was further boosted with the offseason acquisition of the USL Championship's all-time leading scorer, Dane Kelly. The Kickers will counter up top with Terzaghi, but will also lean on back-to-back All-League goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald.

The City of Knoxville will be rocking on Saturday night, when the Week One slate wraps up with the debut of the country's newest professional clubs, One Knoxville and Lexington SC. The fact that they will launch their professional journeys against each other is just fuel to the fire of this natural rivalry. One Knox will be led by experienced defender Jordan Skelton and former Scotland youth international Frank Ross. Lexington will hope veteran midfielder Don Smart can dominate the middle of the field and get out of town with a result.

The USL on ESPN:

This season, fans can once again watch all the Championship and League One action on ESPN platforms. In addition to nine national televised broadcasts on ESPN2, every match will stream live on ESPN+. No blackouts!

Images from this story

South Georgia Tormenta FC celebrates its 2022 USL League One Final victory
South Georgia Tormenta FC celebrates its 2022 USL League One Final victory


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United Soccer League One Stories from March 17, 2023

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