The United Soccer League has officially grown by one more team, as Fresno FC was announced today at an event in Fresno.
The Fresno Bee first reported in March of this year that an ownership group led by local businessman Ray Beshoff had submitted a “strong application” for USL’s current, Division 2 league. The Bee further reported on May 4 that the application had been approved, and Fresno would begin play in 2018. The club made its first front office appointment on June 6 when former Phoenix Rising FC head coach Frank Yallop was named General Manager.
Beshoff is the owner of several car dealerships in Fresno. On announcing the club’s name he said, “We wanted to pick a name that the entire Fresno community would be proud of.”
The announcement comes on the heels of another successful season for Fresno Fuego, longtime members of the USL’s Premier Development League. Fresno FC will play in the same stadium, Chukchansi Park, also home of AAA baseball team Fresno Grizzlies. The stadium seats 12,500, and FFC will play there for 1-2 years until long-term venue is secured.
According to an interview with Yallop by the Davis Enterprise’s Evan Ream, the Fuego will continue, but the level of its involvement with Fresno FC remains to be seen. The Fuego has strong support, particularly from supporter group Fire Squad Fresno.
Fresno is a natural geographic rival for existing clubs in the USL’s Western Conference, such as LA Galaxy II, Orange County SC, Sacramento Republic FC, and Reno 1868 FC.
The league release mentions that Fresno, Nashville, and one other team will join USL play in 2018. According to several accounts including an interview with the Washington Post’s Steven Goff, Birmingham, Baltimore, and a reserve side for DC United are likely additions for 2019. That leaves Las Vegas, which recently had its own team’s stadium plan approved, as the 2018 addition.