TAMPA, Fla. – United Soccer League Division III announed Monday that Toronto FC II will be a founding member in the league’s inaugural 2019 season.

TFC II is operated by Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC and is owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Group.

“With our inaugural kickoff just around the corner in 2019, we are thrilled to add an experienced and championship-caliber club like Toronto FC II to USL Division III,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “Today’s announcement is the perfect blend of championship pedigree with future opportunity. TFC II has had a strong track record in the USL, and we look forward to working with the club to support its success both on and off the pitch. We also welcome Bill Manning and his team of executives to USL Division III, and look forward to their contributions to the league’s success. Additional new market announcements will be made over the coming weeks and months as we prepare for our inaugural season.”

Toronto FC II joined the USL in 2015. Among the Young Reds’ alumni are TFC players Ayo Akinola, Aidan Daniels, Liam Fraser and Ryan Telfer and Canadian Men’s National Team midfielders Mark-Anthony Kaye (Los Angeles FC) and Raheem Edwards (Montreal Impact).

“We believe USL Division III represents a great opportunity for our organization and will play an important role in our long-term strategy for continued success,” Toronto FC president Bill Manning said. “Player development is critical for us as we look to become a team that can contend for championships year in and year out. This league is a perfect fit for us, and we look forward to working with the new league to help it achieve the levels of success already established by the USL.”

Manning of Massapequa, N.Y. who twice was named MLS’s Doug Hamilton executive of the year (2012, 2014) – knows about lower division soccer. Manning was a player in the USL during the 1990s before becoming vice president and general manager for the Long Island Rough Riders and president and general manager of the Minnesota Thunder. He earned USL executive of the year after the Thunder won the title in 1999. Toronto FC senior vice president, soccer operations and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko was also a player in the USL with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2004.

TFC II joins South Georgia Tormenta FC (Statesboro, Georgia), FC Tucson (Tucson, Arizona), Greenville Pro Soccer (Greenville, South Carolina) and Madison Pro Soccer (Madison, Wisconsin) as founding members.