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Union make major announcement Philly team will have USL owned club playing at Lehigh

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 by PETER CAR pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

Professional soccer will be back in Bethlehem and the Philadelphia Union made things official on Wednesday afternoon at Lehigh University's Goodman Stadium.

The Union held a press conference announcing it will continue its player development structure by launching its own team in the lower division United Soccer League.

Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz was joined by Lehigh University president John Simon and USL CEO Alec Papadakis for the announcement.

The team is expected to play in Goodman Stadium and implements an important element in the club's player development.

By adding their USL side to the teams pyramid, the Union will now become the ninth team in Major League Soccer to have their own USL side in the league.

The team will be used as a feeder for the Union, as young players who move on from their academy structure will have a place to gain professional playing experience before the possibility of moving to MLS.

The Union had partnered with the Harrisburg City Islanders on these endeavors in the past, but the move to Bethlehem seems to be logical, considering the ties between the team and city.

The Union launched a commemorative Bethlehem Steel FC alternate uniform to commemorate one of the United States most successful soccer clubs ever and have been apart of Steel Stacks World Cup viewing parties over the last two summers.

USL soccer is sanctioned as a Division-III league in US soccer, right under MLS and NASL (North American Soccer League).