I know a bit about this area as a general soccer fan.
MLS has a couple leagues that it uses as “official” partners of MLS, the PDL (loosely the equivalent of single-A ball, the DL meaning “development league”) and the USL (loosely the equivalent of AAA-ball). Like baseball, the clubs are affiliated with the parent clubs, or considered independents.
USL clubs can be pretty big deals in their own right. Not all that long ago I caught a game between the Rochester Raging Rhinos and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, two of the more successful USL franchises.
The other cool think is that all these clubs qualify for the U.S. Open Cup, an FA cup-like competition in the US where “minor league” teams face off mano-a-mano vs. whomever they’re matched up against, including MLS teams. For example, in the Cup BethSteel 1913 (my personal hope for the name of the franchise) could face off AT HOME against the LA Galaxy, against someone like Frederick Lampard. That is awesome no matter how you look at it.
Also worthy of mention here are 2 things: 1) there is (was?) a PDL team already in Bethlehem, and 2) Lehigh players, I believe, are allowed to compete on PDL teams. Having the USL team here as well should have immense benefits for both Lehigh’s men’s and women’s soccer in terms of all of their development, and we could possibly see Lehigh players start their careers in Lehigh uniforms, see them head to this USL team, then possibly get called up to the Union. It is a much more direct line from Lehigh to the Philadelphia Union, and I think it could bring IMMENSE benefits to Lehigh’s soccer program as a whole.
Not to mention I’m holding out hope that a video screen and updated scoreboard at Goodman are a part of the announced franchise.