Detroit City announces USL move; NISA takes shots at departing champs

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Detroit City FC, one of the United States’ most prominent clubs outside of Major League Soccer, has joined the USL Championship ahead of the 2022 season, eschewing the upstart National Independent Soccer Association after several successful season.

The club started in 2012 with an amateur team in the National Premier Soccer League and joined the nascent professional NISA in 2020, winning two NISA Championships.

Detroit cited increased stability and exposure as the impetus for the move.

“It’s clear that the time is right for Detroit City FC to move forward by joining the USL Championship,” said Detroit City FC co-owner and chief executive officer Sean Mann. “This puts us on track to accomplish many of our shared objectives such as fielding a professional women’s side, enhancing our academy program, upgrading our facilities, and expanding our reach. Since 2012, our vision for Detroit City FC has been to become Detroit’s soccer club for all time. We strive to be the most inclusive, community-focused, and supporter-driven club in the USA.”

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USL boss Jake Edwards praised Detroit, saying, “it’s hard to find a better example of bringing a community together through soccer.”

NISA issued conditional well-wishes to DCFC on its departure, saying, “They are a quality organization that we wish well – if they respect the legal agreements and obligations the league and the member clubs have forged together. Announcing the jump before the season’s end, and not fulfilling its commitment to the 2022 season, brings into question sporting integrity. Also, it should be the baseline that USSF ensures that order, not chaos, exists in the U.S. system.”

The league also took Detroit to task for joining a “closed system,” as USL like all American professional leagues currently does not implement promotion and relegation. NISA has said it plans to introduce pro/rel when the league reaches an unspecified number of teams.

“It is surprising that Detroit City – a historically stalwart supporter of the open system – has chosen ‘franchise’ over ‘club;’ ‘closed’ over ‘open.’ NISA has many great storylines to carry us into 2022 and beyond. Those are our focus as we continue to champion independent American soccer.”

Detroit’s 41 points have already claimed the NISA title with matches to spare in a 10-team league with LA Force, California United, Michigan Stars, Stumptown Athletic, Chicago House, Maryland Bobcats, Chattanooga FC, New Amsterdam FC, and San Diego 1904.

New York Cosmos is on hiatus from NISA and four other teams have been announced for the future: New Jersey Teamsterz, Flower City Union (Rochester, N.Y.), Valley United FC (Phoenix), and AC Syracuse Pulse.