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USL-LEAGUE TWO Union FC Macomb set to launch debut campaign in 2024



BY DAN STICKRADT

Communications Specialist | Web And Content Editor | Director of News |

Social Media Director | Interns and Freelance Coordinator

PH: (248) 884-1051

TW: @LocalSportsFans @MiSoccerNetwork


SHELBY TWP., Mich. – Bringing the world to Michigan.

 

At least that’s how Gronthik Chatterjee sees it.

 

Chatterjee is the President of Michigan’s latest amateur/pre-pro men’s soccer franchise, the Union Football Club Macomb, which will make its debut this spring and summer in the United Soccer Leagues- League Two. This franchise will give Michigan players another choice to play in-state during the college off-season and help promote the beautiful game in Michigan and abroad.

 

“You have so many kids in this community, and the club soccer community does a really good job providing avenues for a lot of kids to play sports,” note Chatterjee. “So many of these kids are going off to play soccer in college because there’s so many other opportunities between NAIA, (NCAA) Division III, (NCAA) Division II, (NCAA) Division I for both girls and boys when they get to be that age of 18-22 to go play. There’s so much talent in Michigan and that Michigan produces those kids who want to go to those next levels. Of course, some of those colleges are recruiting internationally and recruiting from around the country depending on their scope and their size. But there’s a lot of Michigan talent that stays in Michigan and a lot of talent that goes out of Michigan across the United States to go play (college soccer). But what do they do when they come home at the end of April?”

 

United Soccer Leagues-League Two, formerly the Premier Developmental League through 2018, has nearly doubled in size during the last decade and gives these players more opportunity to play May through July before the collegiate season begins in August. The Union FC Macomb will participate in the Great Lakes Division within the Central Conference of the USL-League Two during its inaugural season, which begins in May. The USL-League Two announced that there will be 20 new franchises in the amateur/pre-pro league, including Union FC Macomb, and there will be a record 128 teams from the U.S. and Canada competing this year. More than 100 franchises competed in the league last season.

 

The Union FC Macomb will compete in the Great Lakes Division against six other in-state franchises and one from northern Indiana, including North American powerhouse Flint City Bucks, nearby and natural rival Oakland County FC, AFC Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo FC, Lansing City Football, Midwest United FC and South Bend Michiana Lions, the only non-Michigan member of the division.


The USL League Two and Union FC Macomb may be the right fit for some Michigan soccer players to play locally in summer months and to play at a high level during the college offseason.

 

“I played a long time ago in the USL League Two when it was the PDL and I played for the (then-Michigan) Bucks, so I know what kind of level of talent there is in that league and how successful some of these teams and player are (in college),” noted Chatterjee. “There’s a lot of players that play in the USL League Two that go on to play professionally at some level after college. We want to be a really good option for those kids, especially Michigan kids.”

 

The Union FC Macomb will make its grand debut in the Great Lakes Division of the USL against Grand Rapids-based Midwest United May 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Midwest United FC Complex (3450 36th St SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49512). Union FC Macomb’s first home game is not scheduled until June 1 at 6 p.m. at Utica Swinehart Stadium, Utica Community Schools (47255 Shelby Rd, Utica, Michigan, 48317) adjacent to Utica High School. Swinehart will serve as the host field for all but one home game this season. Additional non-league games and friendlies outside of the USL League Two are still pending.

 

Players being invited to try-out or have already signed with the organization for the 2024 campaign has already begun during the winter months and the roster will continue to develop and expand in the upcoming weeks. Franchises in the USL-League Two can roster as many players as they choose, but only 26 players can be designated as eligible for each contest and only 18 can dress for a contest.

 

Chatterjee will serve as the Union FC Macomb franchise President and Head Coach during the inaugural season with Rajko Jovanovic serving as the top assistant coach and goalkeepers coach. The rest of the coaching staff, game-day operations and support staff are still being assembled.

 

Chatterjee, a Birmingham, Mich.-native and Birmingham Groves graduate, current Executive Director and Director of Coaching with Nationals club soccer program who has served in the Michigan coaching fraternity since 2000 and who holds a USSF National A License, said there is every bit of room and talent to establish another USL League Two team in the Detroit area. This will give many high-level college players from Michigan or with Michigan ties a reason to stay home during the spring and summer months and compete for a Michigan-based franchise instead of heading to other parts of the country.

 

“I think the young adult version of men’s and women’s leagues that are thriving around the country from the UPSL to the UWS are creating space for a few of them. Then in our marketplace, the USL League Two, is kind of the top level of that and there are kids around here that want to be in that space,” said Chatterjee. “There are so many kids that have come out of our club alone that have gone onto the USL in recent years. So that’s where the idea kind of came from and was initiated. We create another space for all of these kids to come back and play in a (high-level league) and for us to create the best environment for all of these Michigan players.

 

“The idea kept evolving and evolving and it’s now the Union Football Club Macomb. For me it is to find Michigan talent and showcase Michigan talent to the world,” said Chatterjee. “I don’t necessarily want to go out and recruit the best kids out of Texas, southern California or Virginia and bring them here. I want to showcase what’s here, players who may go play (college) for Duke or Wake Forest or elsewhere bur are from Michigan. When they come home (for the summer) we want to provide them with an elite environment for them to come back and play in. This is kind of like for Michigan, by Michigan and in that sense, right? In that sense like Athletic Club Bilbao in Spain in the Basque Country where they are fiercely Basque fans and only use Basque players or have a ton of Basque players. Over there it’s like 40 percent or more of their players are from their (Basque) Academy and Basque kids are playing on the first team. In a similar fashion we want for this to be for Michigan players and a place to showcase these Michigan players and to provide a great atmosphere.”


This will give the Michigan soccer community another team to get behind and rally for and again involve mostly Michigan players competing in their own back yard and against mostly teams from around Michigan or in states close in proximity.

 

“We want to get the community behind it and I think that’s another big part of it,” noted Chatterjee. “These kids all went to elementary school, middle school, high school, played college soccer here in Michigan – maybe played for the University of Detroit for 3-4 years and are now Michigan residents. They are Michiganders now. We want to provide a home to those players and to showcase their talent. We want the Michigan community to rally around kids from this area or who live in this area and be proud of it. This team is for you.”

 

The franchise color resemble the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders with silver, black and white encompassing the logo (please see here). Merchandise will be available on-line in the upcoming weeks.

 

Enjoying success and building in-state rivalries is a goal and ones that will help bolster both the team’s fan base and the general soccer landscape within Michigan.

 

“I have a lot of respect for the (Flint City) Bucks and some of the other great League Two teams out there,” said Chatterjee. “I hope we can build up some rivalries with them. A lot of these players know of each other or at least played against each other growing up.”



BROADCAST PARTNER ABOARD

 

The Michigan Soccer Network, owned by the Premier Media Group, will serve as the broadcast company for the Union FC Macomb during its inaugural season. MSN will broadcast live the team’s home games on its YouTube channel at Www.youtube.com/@MICHIGANSOCCERNETWORK or on Caffeine TV, which draws in more than 37 million viewers from around the globe to watch thousands of teams of various levels compete throughout the year.


MSN has broadcast rights for multiple organizations, teams and entities throughout Michigan and beyond. MSN already announced in early March that they will again be the broadcast partner for the Flint City Bucks. Both the Bucks and Union FC Macomb will play seven home and seven away games inside the Great Lakes Division plus other non-conference friendlies and summer tournaments. Plus at least 28 teams will advance to the League Two postseason which begins in mid-July.


USL-LEAGUE TWO

The USL began back in 1995 with its Premier Developmental League existing through the 2018 season. The league was renamed and rebranded as USL-League Two for the 2019 campaign and has continued to grow each year.

Soccer fans can follow USL League Two news, standings and much more on its website at www.uslleaguetwo.com. Brackets, postseason honors, new franchises, player signings and league announcements are available each day.


USL LEAGUE TWO REALINGMENT SET FOR 18 DIVISIONS IN 2024

TAMPA, Fla. – League Two, the USL’s elite pre-professional league for men, has announced its divisional realignment for the 2024 season.

“We could not be more excited for the start of the 2024 USL League Two season,” said USL SVP of Youth and Pre-Professional Properties Joel Nash. “Every year, our divisions continue to get stronger, and our footprint increases. It gives players, coaches and executives from all over the country the opportunity to be a part of a high-level soccer organization in their own backyards.”

USL League Two will feature 18 different divisions, grouped into four conferences. Each team will play 10 to 14 regular season games before the North American playoffs begin in mid-July. Complete information for divisional alignments and media information can be found at www.uslleaguetwo.com.


EXPANSION

League Two is adding 20 expansion teams in 2024 to raise the total number to a USL-record 128 teams. The Seattle area in particular is seeing rapid growth, as West Seattle Junction, Midlakes United and Tacoma Stars join defending champions Ballard FC in the Emerald City.

The Eastern Conference now has 40 clubs, including newcomers Salem City and Charlottesville Blues. The Southern Conference will welcome seven newcomers including Hill Country Lobos, Athens United, and Inter Gainesville KF.

In Michigan, the Union FC Macomb, which will be based in Macomb County area, will make its debut campaign in 2024. The will participate in the Great Lakes Division of the Central Conference.


COMPETITION STRUCTURE UPDATE

New in the 2024 season, a Qualifying Round will be introduced to the Eastern Conference quadrant of the USL League Two Playoffs at the end of the season. The Eastern Conference will have 40 clubs participate in the 2024 season, while the next-largest conference (Western) contains 32 clubs.

Five divisional winners (Mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake, South Atlantic, Northeast and Metropolitan) will all receive an automatic bid. Six additional teams, including the second-place teams in each division and the third-place team with the highest league points per game total between Northeast and Metropolitan will gain entry to the Qualifying Round. The three winners of the matches in that round will enter the full bracket in the Round of 32. Their matchups in the Round of 32 will be determined by factoring in travel distance and points per game.

USL LEAGUE TWO—CENTRAL CONFERENCE:

(Michigan franchises in bold print)

 

GREAT LAKES DIVISION:

AFC Ann Arbor

Flint City Bucks

Kalamazoo FC

Lansing City Football

Midwest United FC

Oakland County FC

South Bend Michiana Lions

Union FC Macomb*

 

VALLEY DIVISION

Cleveland Force SC

Dayton Dutch Lions FC

Fort Wayne FC

Kings Hammer FC

Toledo Villa FC

FC Buffalo

 

HEARTLAND DIVISION

Chicago City SC

Des Moines Menace

Peoria City

St. Charles FC

Chicago Dutch Lions

Sueno FC*

River Light FC*

 

DEEP NORTH DIVISION

RKC Third Coast

St. Croix Legends

Rochester FC

Minneapolis City SC

Bavarian United SC

Thunder Bay Chill


FAST FACTS

 

TEAM: Union FC Macomb

 

DEBUT SEASON: May-July 2024

 

LEAGUE: United Soccer Leagues (USL) League Two

 

CONFERENCE: Central Conference and Great Lakes Division

 

DIVISIONAL ALIGNMENT: AFC Ann Arbor, Flint City Bucks, Kalamazoo FC, Lansing City Football, Midwest United FC, Oakland County FC, South Bend Michiana Lions, Union FC Macomb

 

HOME FIELD: Utica Swinehart Stadium, Utica Community Schools

 

 

USL-LEAGUE TWO WEBSITE: www.uslleaguetwo.com

 

GET INVOLVED: For ticket prices and packages, schedule, rosters, news and information, game-day operations support, booster club, and more, please visit the Union FC Macomb website and watch for announcements on the social media platforms.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS:

Facebook: UnionFCMacomb

Twitter/X: @UnionFCMacomb

Instagram: @UnionFCMacomb

 

BROADCAST PARTNER: Michigan Soccer Network (Premier Media Group)



(Have a story suggestion for the Premier Media Group and the Michigan Soccer Network regarding club soccer, high school varsity, amateur soccer, collegiate soccer or professional soccer of teams or players with Michigan ties, contact Communications Specialist/Web and Content Editor/Director of News Dan Stickradt via email at stickradt@michigansoccernetwork.com, or call 248-884-1051. Dan Stickradt is a 31-year veteran of the Michigan Media circles and recently joined the staff full time in March of 2024. Want to schedule a broadcast game or live show, contact PMG/MSN Director of Broadcasting Jonathan Turner for availability and pricing at jonathan@michigansoccernetwork.com.) 








 

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