Alphabet Soup: the NASL/USL/CPL/NISA/PDL/NPSL/NCAA Soccer Thread

thehitcat

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100%, unless it is a precursor to Pro/Rel
If it is a precursor to Pro/Rel MLS better watch out because the USL is going to blow by the Euro Retirement League. If I were a deep pocketed potential owner I'd be looking to get into USL not MLS.
 

Titans Bastard

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If it is a precursor to Pro/Rel MLS better watch out because the USL is going to blow by the Euro Retirement League. If I were a deep pocketed potential owner I'd be looking to get into USL not MLS.
I honestly can't tell if this is parody.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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The Pro/Rel argument is fascinating to me because it takes a the idea of "Countries with Pro/Rel league systems have better soccer!" and ignores the somewhat important factors of "where are there longer and deeper traditions of the sport" and "where is the most money poured in?".

If Pro/Rel was the secret sauce, then when are all those Euro Basketball leagues gonna blow past the closed shop that is the NBA?

I do still think it'd be interesting and fun in US Soccer leagues, but it wouldn't turbo-charge anything.
 

Titans Bastard

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I think it would make Bob Kraft pay attention to the Revs real quick.
I think this may be true. Or at least, the Revs would be replaced with a club whose owner is more attentive.

I'm a fan of pro/rel, but I think a lot of people in US soccer fan circles take it as an article of faith that the attention/pressure that comes with pro/rel will result in an improved American player pool. I'm not so sure. Will there be more pressure at the bottom of the table? Absolutely. But will that be good for the American player or good for veteran imports in whom more trust is placed by managers?

After all, the vast majority of countries in the world have pro/rel including the ones best at soccer and the ones worst at soccer. Culture, coaching, and providing opportunities at the right moments matter much more.

Pro/rel is good, but I honestly think that popular support for it is somewhat held back by the fact that the most prolific advocates for it are assholes of biblical proportions (Ted Westervelt & his crew especially), who put forth bad, overreaching arguments for pro/rel, such as that it is a cure-all for everything that ails US soccer.

The USL is giving a fair amount of lip service to internal pro/rel. I don't expect anything to happen in the next few years because the USLD3 needs a lot of work first. It sounds like they are serious about launching some sort of interdivisional league cup in 2020. If pro/rel becomes real and sustainable in the USL, it would make things very interesting in the medium term. I think seeing it up close in the lower divisions would move the ball forward considerably.
 

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Maybe this would be mitigated if expansive playoff systems were maintained, but I've always thought Pro/Rel means that pressure just lives in a different part of the table, rather than increasing the amount of pressure overall in the league.

The American style playoffs & no pro/rel system leads to a lot of slack at the bottom of a table, but by contrast a pro/rel table without playoffs leads to similar slack in the middle of a table., depending how much the leaders and strugglers separate themselves from the pack. Meanwhile in the more American style system, those mid-table teams are scrapping for the playoffs.
 

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This might an unoriginal observation, but pro/rel sort of does exist in America today, and we're about to see it when Cincinnati moves up and Columbus presumably ends up with a USL team after the Crew leave for Austin.

MLS might be fine letting Kraft limp along in Foxboro, they're not going to be fine with USL teams significantly outdrawing MLS teams. So if one excels (like Cincinnati), they're going to get snapped up. Not because of what they bring to the league, necessarily, but because that kind of success happening outside of MLS is an existential threat.

That's really what makes the Ricketts project in Chicago so interesting. It's one thing when Precourt is sick of Columbus and wants to go to Austin. What happens if a USL team starts kicking the Fire's ass in a downtown Chicago stadium?
 

Titans Bastard

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MLS might be fine letting Kraft limp along in Foxboro, they're not going to be fine with USL teams significantly outdrawing MLS teams. So if one excels (like Cincinnati), they're going to get snapped up. Not because of what they bring to the league, necessarily, but because that kind of success happening outside of MLS is an existential threat.
I don't think that MLS thinks of USL as an existential threat. If anything, USL is turning into a proving ground for certain markets/owners. Cincinnati is a good example — it's a major league sized market, but not one that any league really NEEDS to have. FC Cincinnati has huge money owners which is an advantage and now their resume has been augmented with a 100% proven fanbase. FCC is building a stadium; would they have been able to get a deal done if they hadn't come into negotiations as a locally proven entity at the USL level? Maybe, but it's easier when you can point to nearly 20k fans every weekend.

I think it's hard to overstate how much investment would be required to bring a league like the USL to a level where they could surpass MLS.

That's really what makes the Ricketts project in Chicago so interesting. It's one thing when Precourt is sick of Columbus and wants to go to Austin. What happens if a USL team starts kicking the Fire's ass in a downtown Chicago stadium?
I agree that this is really interesting. If the USL team finds a legitimate foothold, I would not be shocked to see a Precourt-type relocation of the Fire, while the USL team is bumped up to MLS. If I'm MLS HQ, the Chicago Fire are actually a much bigger concern than the Revs right now IMO. They are really cratering on and off the field.
 

Awesome Fossum

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I agree with all of that. My point isn't that the MLS needed a market like Cincinnati, it's that they don't want to risk clubs performing at a major league level outside of their league.

The USL wouldn't need to surpass the MLS in overall quality of play for things to start going sideways, they would just need to throw MLS' status as the clear cut top league into question. Then suddenly municipalities have options when it comes to negotiating stadium deals, MLS loses a lot of leverage in television negotiations, etc.

And I think that's far fetched, as long as MLS keeps snapping up the FC Cincinnati's of the world. Like you say, MLS is using USL as a proving grounds for markets and owners. That approach is what prevents the USL from being an existential threat.

But if MLS were to take a different tact and box out the FC Cincinnatis (or Ricketts' Chicago clubs) of the world, then it only takes a handful of billionaires to start wreaking havoc.
 

thehitcat

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I agree with all of that. My point isn't that the MLS needed a market like Cincinnati, it's that they don't want to risk clubs performing at a major league level outside of their league.

The USL wouldn't need to surpass the MLS in overall quality of play for things to start going sideways, they would just need to throw MLS' status as the clear cut top league into question. Then suddenly municipalities have options when it comes to negotiating stadium deals, MLS loses a lot of leverage in television negotiations, etc.

And I think that's far fetched, as long as MLS keeps snapping up the FC Cincinnati's of the world. Like you say, MLS is using USL as a proving grounds for markets and owners. That approach is what prevents the USL from being an existential threat.

But if MLS were to take a different tact and box out the FC Cincinnatis (or Ricketts' Chicago clubs) of the world, then it only takes a handful of billionaires to start wreaking havoc.
This is a much better distillation of what I wanted to say above. My quote was not meant as sarcasm it was meant to specifically include the potential for more Ricketts type investors with second clubs in markets in which the MLS is struggling. RB Leipzig was a nothing club literally until the money flowed and now they are a top tier club in Germany with relatively strong European aspirations. Pro/Rel combined with deep pockets can help unfancied clubs rise and if USL gets a few I believe MLS should sweat. My hypothetical is this, a billionaire owner decides he wants to own a club, agrees to play 3 years at Harvard Stadium while he proves the concept, builds a following and rises to the top of a Pro/Rel USL potentially putting a club with deep pockets and stadium ambitions in Boston which I believe would kill the Revs. Sure the MLS could snap them up but then what are they doing with the Krafts or with Hauptmann in Chicago? Not everyone is a Precourt who already wants to move.
 

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The Rays are buying the Tampa Bay Rowdies, to be announced tomorrow.
http://www.tampabay.com/sports/rowdies/2018/10/01/tampa-bay-rays-to-purchase-rowdies-soccer-club/

Lots of interesting interplay. The Rays could use the very valuable location as an alternate (or threatened) location for a stadium if Ybor in Tampa doesn't work out (they take over the Rowdies lease). Or maybe a new spring training location (in what used to be a baseball stadium). Or the Rays might just want to own more in the area.

For the Rowdies, who knows? They have a better owner than before, one that MLS would much prefer if the team moves up. However, if they've built up a following in St. Pete after not doing well at all in Tampa, could they finally build this awesome stadium in St. Pete, or would the Rays move them to Tampa to play in a new baseball stadium?
 
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Titans Bastard

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USL Cup will be broadcast on ESPN2. AFAIK this is the first time they've gotten on a regular cable channel like this; last year it was on ESPNU.
 

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The Rays are buying the Tampa Bay Rowdies, to be announced tomorrow.
http://www.tampabay.com/sports/rowdies/2018/10/01/tampa-bay-rays-to-purchase-rowdies-soccer-club/

Lots of interesting interplay. The Rays could use the very valuable location as an alternate (or threatened) location for a stadium if Ybor in Tampa doesn't work out (they take over the Rowdies lease). Or maybe a new spring training location (in what used to be a baseball stadium). Or the Rays might just want to own more in the area.

For the Rowdies, who knows? They have a better owner than before, one that MLS would much prefer if the team moves up. However, if they've built up a following in St. Pete after not doing well at all in Tampa, could they finally build this awesome stadium in St. Pete, or would the Rays move them to Tampa to play in a new baseball stadium?
It's a sideways move IMO. Edwards is a shady guy for sure and most people think he was a big reason why the MLS said no. That being said, he poured a lot of money into the team and developed the product and the stadium in tangible ways. They added premium seating and paid a lot of talent like Freddy Adu and Joe Cole. The games are a blast and the tailgate is terrific. OTOH, Sternberg is a shitty owner as anyone who has been to the Trop and has followed the Ybor stadium news can attest. He basically just asked Hillsborough County for $800M. While this was likely just an opening salvo to stake out negotiating position, that is well over double what the County should reasonably offer. What it means for the Rowdies is unclear. As you mentioned, the Rowdies have a lease at Al Lang with 5 years remaining. That is an awesome site, but the City/County don't seem that interested in developing it further (a referendum got shot down 5-10 years ago). While a second tenant at a new Ybor stadium would be welcome IMO, there are questions about the ability of two teams with major seasonal overlap to pull it off.
 

Titans Bastard

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Penn FC (based in Harrisburg) is taking 2019 off to hopefully re-launch in 2020 in "USL League One" (a.k.a. the new D3 league) with a better stadium situation.


They are one of the smallest current D2 markets, so it's not surprising to see them drop down.
 

Titans Bastard

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USL New Mexico = New Mexico United



Boring name, boring badge.
 

Titans Bastard

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The club that never disappoints with another entertaining hire:


From Chelis to Wynalda, two American soccer legends. Wynalda might actually be good, or not, but it'll be fun.
 

Titans Bastard

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Despite the departure of Peter Wilt earlier this year, the proposed D3 league NISA is still hobbling along. At the beginning of August, the league submitted its 2019 application for D3 sanctioning from the USSF.

This month they have announced three clubs — or something like that. They are claiming there will be teams in Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Charlotte. None of the announcements name an ownership group, a club name, or where the team will play. All three are in markets with current D1 or D2 teams (well, with CT it's not clear which city, but Hartford is getting a USL team next season). NISA has felt like smoke and mirrors for a while and I'm deeply skeptical of its ability to get off the ground.


Meanwhile, USL D3 USL League One is announcing a new D3 team on Thursday, likely to be based in Lansing.
 

Titans Bastard

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FC Dallas makes ten clubs in USL League One.

https://www.fcdallas.com/post/2018/11/02/fc-dallas-owned-club-joins-usl-league-one-founding-member

Freaking finally. FC Dallas has a lot of talent in their academy, but the lack of a stepping stone for players in their late teens has been a huge issue. I'm very excited about this from a US development standpoint because Dallas is such an important talent zone. I'm also still irritated at FCD for waiting so long.

It looks like USL League One will launch with these ten. That's a decent start, though they'll definitely want to add more and regionalize. They have the makings of a Northeast+Midwest pod (TFC II, Lansing, Madison, with maybe Rochester and Harrisburg coming back from hiatus in 2020) and a Southeast pod (Richmond, Chattanooga, Orlando B, Greenville, Statesboro), but FC Dallas and FC Tucson are a bit isolated right now.
 

Titans Bastard

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The Madison third division expansion club has unveiled its name and colors:



Anybody can rip off a "United" or make the boring choice to use a solitary "FC", but riffing off of En Avant Guingamp is truly a deep cut. Apparently plastic pink flamingos are the official bird of Madison.

I will say that I am happy that this team and Inter Miami are bringing pink into the color palette.

I'm also glad we are officially post-peak Cringeworthy Logo Explainer Graphics.

 

Titans Bastard

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Also, a group of NPSL clubs announced that they are forming something called the "NPSL Founders Cup" which will start this fall.

http://www.npsl.com/news/9317

Like the PDL, the NPSL is a summer league populated mainly by college players on break. It's more like the Cape Cod League than a real rung on the ladder. It's an amateur league with unpaid college players and a very short season, given the the availability of college players. Some of the more ambitious clubs have been working on a way to professionalize (to some extent, at least) and form a league. Per the press release, the idea is to extend the season into fall 2019 for this group, then have a full version of this league launch in 2020.

These teams haven't joined the USL's D3 project because they are ideologically opposed to the USL or because they simply don't meet basic ownership and stadium requirements. I'm skeptical of the viability of both this and NISA. NISA has actually applied for D3 sanctioning (unlike this NPSL effort), but the NPSL effort has a few clubs that actually have a decent track record and very good support for their level (Detroit City and Chattanooga FC), and the NY Cosmos (YMMV on whether their presence helps).
 

Titans Bastard

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FC Dallas announced that their USL League One club will be called North Texas SC.



The first player signed to a USL contract is Ricardo Pepi, a 2003 forward from their academy who has recently broken into the U17 national team despite being considerably younger than most of the pool (September '03 birthday). Pepi has been clowning on the U17 DA league so far, with 19 goals in 8 games. Clearly he's ready to play against tougher competition than the 2002s and 2003s at that level. Pepi is another El Paso product (cc: @EP Sox Fan)

I'm really pumped for this USL team from a general developmental perspective. FC Dallas has badly needed this for years.

Hartford Athletic announced their crest, too.



They are already in hot water, though, with some potentially illegal campaign finance activities on the part of their owner.
 

Titans Bastard

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CONCACAF has denied the Ottawa Fury sanctioning to play in the USL.

CONCACAF has informed the Ottawa Fury that the confederation will not sanction the team for play in the USL Championship for the 2019 season.

The ruling, which was communicated on Wednesday morning, came as a surprise to the Fury. The club had been approved in November by the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) to play across the border in the American second-division league. Ottawa opted to remain in the USL in 2019 instead of signing on for the inaugural season of the newly-formed Canadian Premier League.
I get that Ottawa should probably move to the Canadian Premier League sooner or later, but pulling the rug out from under them in December is a dick move. Give them a 12 month grace period.

I don't think this will happen, but...

The decision could have far-reaching implications in the sport, both in the short- and long-term. CONCACAF’s decision could potentially set a precedent that impacts the three Canadian Major League Soccer teams—the Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact, and Toronto FC—because the CPL bills itself as a “Tier 1 league.” In addition, the decision will certainly have an impact on the 2019 USL season and the short- and long-term health of the Fury, which suddenly may be without a league for the upcoming season.

EDIT: forgot to mention the noteworthy detail that the president of CONCACAF is Victor Montagliani, who used to run the CSA and has championed the CPL.
 
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steeplechase3k

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2019 USL Home openers are announced:

Timbers2 first home match is in March long before Providence Park will be ready so I assume they'll play that one (and more) at the beautiful Merlo Field at the University of Portland
 

Monbo Jumbo

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Atlanta's USL squad will play at Kennesaw State's stadium this season. Last season they played at the AAA Braves park NE of the city (near me). Kennesaw is much closer to the team's training facility in Marietta, NW of the city.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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According to that article, the USL season starts on March 9, but Hartford Athletic doesn't have its home opener until May 4? Eight weeks on the road? Is Dillon Stadium being overhauled or something?
 

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Thought I would post an obligatory crest analysis for El Paso's new USL team. They just signed a local kid who participated in an open try out that apparently was well attended. He was previously working construction. Nice story and good PR move by the club. I wanted to try out until I remembered the last competitive game I played in was in college, which was a long ass time ago. Also, I'm old and fat now. I'm pretty pumped about this and will definitely attend the opener.
 

Titans Bastard

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They just signed a local kid who participated in an open try out that apparently was well attended. He was previously working construction. Nice story and good PR move by the club.
I saw that. If he turns out to be any good, it will be a really cool example of the benefits of the current proliferation of professional soccer teams in the USL. He is someone who 100% would not be getting an pro opportunity if there weren't a club in his hometown.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Between them and the Dynamo, Texas has a surprisingly Eastern European flair to its team naming.
 

Titans Bastard

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Between them and the Dynamo, Texas has a surprisingly Eastern European flair to its team naming.
Let's keep going with this.

There's Fort Hood, so we've got CSKA Killeen.

There's a Toyota plant in San Antonio, so we've got Torpedo San Antonio.

Were there ever any notable labor movement events in Texas? Spartak ________

Then we can give the rest of the cities names based on nearby geographic features.

Llano Estacado Lubbock
Rio Grande Laredo
Gulf Corpus Christi
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Not sure if there’s any coal mining still extant out there, so for the sound of it going with Shaktar Denton.

There’s something there with Red Star/ Lone Star, but I can’t quite pick the Texas city that ties it all together.
 

DrewDawg

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Just found out my area is getting a USL2 team--Virginia Beach United, which is some kind of joint effort by 2 of the larger clubs here--Rush and Beach FC

https://twitter.com/vabeachunited



We have a NPSL team here, VB City, which I thought had done decent, and had recently started their own youth travel club, competing with the ones mentioned above. I haven't seen anything saying they're going away.
 

Titans Bastard

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Hampton Roads is the sixth largest metro area in the US without pro soccer. Bring back the Virginia Beach Mariners, or something. They're due.
 

DrewDawg

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Hampton Roads is the sixth largest metro area in the US without pro soccer. Bring back the Virginia Beach Mariners, or something. They're due.
We had the Virginia Beach Piranhas until 2013 or so, which was a PDL team for the Mariners, but ended up lasting a few years longer. Just looking at it now, I realize that I know 2 of the 3 coaches the Piranhas had in their time here.

And the VB City team isn't going away, so this will be interesting, since VB City had some local college players on their team, which I imagine now would rather play for the USL2 team.

I find it interesting that the 2 travel clubs (Beach FC and Rush) basically couldn't agree on anything down here in respect to the youth soccer scene, but worked this out.
 

Titans Bastard

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There's some interesting stuff from the USL's Jake Edwards here:

“Right now, the Championship has 36 professional teams competing, and we’re launching League One with 10 professional clubs,” said Edwards in an interview about USL’s long-term strategy. “So it’s 46 professional teams across the country in our set-up right now. We’re looking at the ideal number [in the Championship] somewhere around 38 or 40, and that’s where we’re going to top out and cease expansion. What that means is there will be a number of teams—probably 10 or 12—currently in our Championship that will come out of our league over the next years and go into League One.
So he claims he wants to cap D2 at 40 clubs and he also says that a number of D2 clubs will drop to D3. I'd expect that to be smaller markets and MLS2 teams.

More expansion coming soon:

Edwards said USL plans to announce three more Championship expansion teams by this summer (one on West Coast and two on the East Coast), and he added that USL is in advanced discussions with two high-profile European clubs about owning teams in League One.
Expansion fee is $7m.

Right now, purchasing a USL team is a $7 million franchise fee. Five years ago it was $300,000.”
Edwards likes to talk about promotion and relegation within USL. Time will tell the extent to which he's serious about it and the extent to which he likes to talk about it mostly because it will garner attention. In any case, it won't be a factor until League One becomes more established.

“I think there’s a realistic possibility [of promotion and relegation],” Edwards said. “The sport is evolving, the sport is changing. What is considered normal now might not be correct in a couple of seasons’ time. How we’re approaching that, and I get asked the question all the time, is the launch of our second league, League One. A lot of focus and attention needs to go into building that league up over a short period of time. But we’ve got to get the right owners in League One, the right stadiums and infrastructure. We’ve got to make sure the quality on the field is at a good standard. You have to create parity as much as you can between the two divisions. Of course, the Championship will be different from League One in many respects, but it can’t be obscenely different.”
 

Titans Bastard

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Landon Donovan is reportedly signing with an indoor soccer team in San Diego.

 

Titans Bastard

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The USL has been working on two probably-quixotic attempts to establish clubs in large markets. One, in Chicago, recently seemed to go down in flames when the local alderman opposed an attempt to build a stadium at a very desirable location a bit north of the loop.

The other is some sort of "East Bay" location. The Bay Area is so big and subdivided that I could see the potential for something in the Oakland area, but building an 18k capacity stadium in Concord is just a strange proposal. The local city council did move the project forward, but it's at a very early stage and it likely won't happen.
 

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Seattle Sounders 2 have changed their name to Tacoma Defiance. They moved to Tacoma last year in a partnership with the AAA Tacoma Rainiers, with whom they share a stadium.



The NWSL's Seattle Reign FC is also relocating to Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
 

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The USSF has reportedly given DIII sanctioning to NISA, a new league that's planning to launch this August and play a fall-spring schedule.

http://midfieldpress.com/2019/02/16/breaking-nisa-sanctioned-by-ussf-to-start-in-august/

I am very skeptical that this league will last.

Supposedly the teams are in Atlanta, Charlotte, Norwich (CT), Philadelphia, Rhode Island, San Diego, Daytona Beach, and LA area. There has been limited information about the owners of many of these "clubs", which for me is a huge red flag. If you have decent owners lined up, any new league would be trumpeting that information as a sign of their stability and future prospects. Also, half of those markets already have a pro soccer team.

NISA doesn't have any expansion fees, which is advertised as a beneficial non-exclusionary policy, but I think in reality means they'll be getting the under-capitalized rejects who couldn't get USL teams.

NISA's main driving force, Peter Wilt, left the organization last year to join up with the new USL League One team, Forward Madison.
 

Titans Bastard

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The USL Championship season kicks off this weekend, starting with Tacoma vs. Rio Grande Valley right now. USL League One starts in a couple of weeks.

It's a deep cut, but the games are all on ESPN+, so Tacoma Defiance (Seattle's team) and North Texas SC (FC Dallas' team) are the two biggest ones I'll keep track of from a USMNT perspective. Both have tons of teenage prospects who will be playing big roles.