MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Add Memphis as a United Soccer League expansion team for the 2019 season, the league announced Monday.
The club’s ownership group is led by Peter Freund and Craig Unger, owners of the Memphis Redbirds, the AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The team will play at AutoZone Park, located in the heart of the city.
Memphis became the third team to join the USL for the 2019 season, with the league having announced new teams in Birmingham, Ala. and return to Austin, Texas. It will become the state’s second city with a USL club following the addition of Nashville SC for the 2018 USL season.
“The addition of Memphis to the USL is another landmark for the growth of both the league and the sport of soccer in the Southeast,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a statement. “The USL continues to lead this growth in the sport’s popularity and demand by identifying and securing thriving expansion markets, with Memphis the latest example. This in turn continues to drive the league toward its goal of becoming one of the top Division II leagues in the world, alongside the likes of the English Championship, Liga Adelante in Spain, and Germany’s 2. Bundesliga.
“Memphis has already shown itself to be a passionate sporting city, with the work Peter Freund, Craig Unger and their organization at the Memphis Redbirds a perfect illustration of that. We are extremely pleased to add Peter and Craig to our already world-class ownership group, and believe the experience they bring from operating and managing a professional sports organization will mirror the success other USL clubs with similar backgrounds have built.”
The second-largest city in Tennessee with a population of 1.3 million people, Memphis adds another city to the USL’s expanding Southeastern footprint. In addition to the natural in-state rivalry with Nashville SC, the club will also be part of a group of 10 teams within a 500-mile radius of each other, including the likes of Louisville City FC, the Charleston Battery, the Charlotte Independence, Saint Louis FC and the Swope Park Rangers.