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With an ever evolving USL and the challenges it presents to the Old Guard clubs, the supporter groups comprising of the Shield have had to adapt in order to continue this competition. What this means is we have come up with a solution to the 2019 edition of the Shield and how future years of the competition shall be handled in the face of an ever changing league composition. First, we’ll address the state of the five clubs and what their future involvement entails.
Charleston – Competing in USL Championship for 2019 and has not made any statement above moving from that league
Harrisburg – Currently on hiatus. Has stated an intention to return to play in 2020, but in USL League One. The location of their home ground has been ambiguous and will need to still be in the greater Harrisburg area (in the judgment of the members OGS supporter groups) to remain in the Shield.
Richmond – Moved to USL League One for 2019, which appears to be their league home for the foreseeable future.
Rochester – Currently on hiatus. Has announced a desire to return to active status as early as 2020, but in USL League One. The location of their home ground has been ambiguous and will still need to be in greater Rochester area (in the judgement of the member OGS supporter groups) to remain in the Shield. Furthermore, a hiatus beyond the 2020 season would lead to discussion amongst the OGS supporter groups, since the club’s hiatus would have then extended beyond two seasons.
Pittsburgh – Competing in USL Championship for 2019 and ownership has made multiple public statements indicting they have no desire to move away from that league.
In short, the makeup on the OGS clubs for 2019 has two teams competing at the Division II level, one team competing at the Division III level, and two teams on hiatus. Then, if the currently competing teams maintain their status quo and the hiatus teams return when publicly stated and in a home ground within their original market area, the OGS in 2020 will have two teams competing at the Division II level and two or three teams competing at the Division III level.
In addition to the known movement of clubs between USL leagues, USL management has made multiple public statements indicating that future movement of clubs between USL leagues is likely. The movement of clubs for reasons other than non-sporting merit is certain over the next eight years, and the movement of clubs for sporting merit is an idea that is apparently on the table, but still multiple years away. With all of this combined, the member supporter groups of the OGS had to come up with a system to deal with the current and potential future movement of clubs between these USL leagues (and future potential leagues under the USL overview). The system that has been established and agreed upon by all the OGS support groups is as follows:
- Whenever OGS clubs are split between multiple leagues, the league with the greater number of OGS clubs will host the Shield competition for that season
- If two USL leagues have a joint top number of OGS clubs competing in each, the Shield will be contested in whichever league did not host the competition the prior season
- The Shield could permanently lose competing club (club no longer exists, club moves too far from the city/town in which it originally existed, there is no longer a supporters group for that club which wishes to remain in the Shield)
- No other club can join the Shield, with an extraordinary exception of Orange County, in the unlikely event that the Eastern/Western conference system went away and Orange County regularly competed with all the OGS clubs in a yearly home and away format
With all of that in mind, the 2019 Old Guard Shield competition will consist of Charleston and Pittsburgh in USL Championship. The 2020 will most likely be competed in USL League One with Richmond, Harrisburg, and potentially Rochester. Beyond 2020, the league in which the Shield is competed for will be determined by the previously mentioned criteria.
As the USL continues to grow and evolve, we believe our mission of celebrating the clubs and supporters that laid and maintained the foundation on which this growth has occurred is more important than ever. While these changes unfortunately mean that not all clubs and not all OGS club supporters can be directly involved in the Shield each season, we do expect and hope that all of these supporters continue to carry the torch of what these OGS clubs mean to the league and the history of soccer in the United States.
For the Shield,
The Member Old Guard Shield Supporter Groups