American soccer writing, history & data.
The USISL had gone through a regular rotation of names since its founding in 1986. But, in the offseason before the 1999, the organization changed its name to the United Soccer Leagues. That name would stick as the organization continues to call itself to this day.
The USL W-League stayed steady with 34 teams for the 1999 season. The league continued to be split into the higher W-1 Division and the lower W-2 Division. While long-time teams such as the Connecticut Lady Wolves, Columbus ZIGGX and Buffalo Ffillies had left, the league expanded with more than a handful of expansion franchises. The Laval Dynamites and Toronto Inferno team grew the W-League into Canada. The league added teams in Austin, Houston and the Dallas area to create a presence in Texas. And the Carolina Dynamo franchise launched the Piedmont Spark women's team in the W-2 Division. The 1998 W-2 Division champions, the Fort Collins Force, were promoted to the W-1 Division for the 1999 season.
In the W-1 Division, the Chicago Cobras went undefeated in their 14-game schedule to win the Central while the defending champion Raleigh Wings only lost one match in the South. They Maryland Pepsi Pride would beat the Long Island Lady Riders 4-1 to win the North and the right to play in the Final Four.
The Raleigh Wings hosted the Final Four and beat the Maryland Pride 4-1 in the semifinals. The Chicago Cobras beat the Atlanta Classics by the same score in the other semifinal. On August 15, the two best teams in the W-League meat at the WRAL Soccer Complex in Raleigh, N.C. A crowd of 2110 saw the Cobras go up 2-0 in the first half but the Wings came back to tie it 2-2. The game went scoreless through overtime an the Wings defended their W-League W-1 title by winning the shootout 3-2 over the Cobras.
In the W-2 Division, the expansion Oklahoma City Wings would withdraw just before the season started. That caused the league to split the Central Division into a four-team Midwest Division and a three-team Southwest Division.
Expansion teams were the best in the W-2 Division for 1999 with the Springfield Sirens, Piedmont Spark and North Texas Heat all winning their respective divisions. Springfield hosted the W-2 Division Final Four. North Texas beat the New York Magic in one semifinal while Springfield Beat the Hampton Roads Piranhas in the other. On August 8, the North Texas Heat won the 1999 W-2 W-League title by beating Springfield 5-1.
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