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What’s up for lower leagues in the United States this summer?

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If you’ve played, coached, or watched soccer in the United States over the past couple of decades, there’s a good chance John Motta had a hand in your competition.

As president of the United States Adult Soccer Association, he’s also being trusted to make wise decisions on when you might be able to get back on a field in a world suffering through the coronavirus pandemic.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Motta also serves on the U.S. Soccer Federation’s board of directors as the chairman of the adult council, and is also navigating a tricky time as the owner of 30 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises.

We thought now would be as good a time as ever to ask Motta what’s up next for soccer in the United States.

ProSoccerTalk: John thanks for your time. Can you fill our readers in on the USASA and your role within it and soccer in America?

John Motta: “We start from your NPSLs and UPSLs which are the higher premier leagues, the women’s premier leagues, all the way down to the local club leagues in your town and the over-the-hill leagues. Our motto is, ‘We’re the game for life.’ I kinda oversee the board which directs all the policy. I’m also the chairman of the adult council, which is one of the four councils of the U.S. Soccer Federation. I serve on the Board of Directors of U.S. Soccer, representing the amateur players and amateur soccer in this country. It’s interesting, especially with everything going on with the federation now. It keeps me busy.”

PST: Now is an insane time for all of us, let alone trying to plan for how soccer’s going to look once it’s safe to get back out there. There’s no good time for a pandemic, obviously, but right before summer is a sincerely daunting challenge in timing. Where is the USASA in the forecasting and decision-making process?

JM: “We’ve got a U.S. Adult Soccer call next Wednesday and we’re gonna evaluate all our programs for the whole year. We had a historic event that was gonna happen in May: The champions of US adult soccer, which was Newtown Pride, were gonna play the UEFA Regions’ Cup champions from Poland (Dolny Śląsk). We already had to cancel that because of travel restrictions. This was gonna be the first time U.S. Soccer and UEFA combined to have an international event. We were psyched, but now we have to wait another year.

“Also the HankSteinbrecher Cup, which was gonna be played in late May. That’s not looking good, only because I don’t see this blowing over that quickly. I hope it does. Being that it’s two months away, it’s hard to keep it on the schedule but we might be able to wait longer because all the clubs are in busing distance. And the soccer festival, our biggest event, from open divisions to Over 75s, was gonna be held in California this year. Even though it’s scheduled in July, we may still wait until May 1. I don’t see us canceling that until at least a month from now.

[ MORE: USL League Two plans to play ]

“And the USASA National Amateur Cup, which has grown in popularity because of the automatic berth in the Open Cup, the Steinbrecher Cup, and $15,000 in prizes. That usually happens in August with the elimination rounds happening now, which obviously they are not. Maybe we push that final in October to give all the teams in the states the opportunity to hold their qualifiers. That’s what I’m going to recommend to the board on Wednesday. I think they’ll agree, hopefully they’ll agree. When this is over everybody’s gonna wanna do something, anxious to play soccer and watch games. Postponing everything (for a year) is not good idea right now.”

PST: How about all the local leagues that carry so much weight in their communities? New York City and Maryland have institutions. I know the league in my home town of Buffalo (the BDSL) is a monstrous part of summer here with many divisions and promotional/relegation. What advice would give players wondering what their summer holds?

JM: “We definitely contacted our insurance provider to give us some guidance. It takes one incident, let’s say a player is playing and catches it, claims he caught up from playing soccer and passes away. That’s a tragedy and a huge lawsuit, right? That’s why we postponed all activities until April 30. In a couple of weeks, we will have to get together and maybe again extend that. But we’ve told our members if they go out and play, they are on their own because our insurance company wasn’t going to cover anything for the month of April.”

PST: As a soccer lover, how do you feel at an emotional level, watching leagues contemplate their summers and clubs contemplate their present and futures?

JM: “I’ll be honest: In the 1990s I owned a Division 3 professional team, the New Hampshire Phantoms. I think they still exist today in the USL amateur league. As a former owner of a team, you rely on games and your sponsors rely on your playing. I know the difficulties of running teams in the NPSL, even the UPSL. Even though they aren’t classified as professional, they run their teams in a professional manner. I’m saying to myself, Wow, here are these owners that put all this capital up front to run these teams and now they are just doing nothing. I own Dunkin’ Donuts shops, luckily they are open cause it’s called an essential business but I can imagine what it would be like if I have to close all my doors. How will I survive? There’s no difference with lower league soccer clubs. Hopefully they will survive. Every day that goes by it just kills me because I know they want to get on the field and this damn virus is keeping us all locked up.

PST: What else should people know about the USASA right now?

JM: “They should know that we’re doing everything we can. I gotta call from (a professional league) the other day to talk about the possibility of a combined event or schedule, and we are in the process of contacting our insurance company. I’ll jump over a mountain to play soccer, so hopefully we can get something done this summer once this is over.”

U.S. Open Cup: Sounders host Timbers, 4th-tier side draws Galaxy

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National Premier Soccer League side Orange County FC will travel an hour of distance but a gulf in class when it meets LA Galaxy in the U.S. Open Cup’s fourth round.

The fourth-tier side knocked off USL side Las Vegas Lights in the third round, is the only club remaining in the tournament which plays outside the United States’ top two tiers.

[ U-20 WC: Weah leads U.S. win | Norwegian bags 9 ]

Well-traveled USMNT veteran Paul Caligiuri managed OCFC, and as a fun aside knocked off Eric Wynalda’s Las Vegas.

There are five all-MLS matches in the fourth round, including a Cascadian match-up between Portland and Seattle.

Here is the full list:

Columbus Crew SC vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC — June 11, 7 p.m. ET

New York Red Bulls vs New England Revolution — June 11, 7:30 p.m. ET

Charleston Battery vs. Atlanta United — June 11, 7:30 p.m. ET

Minnesota United FC vs Sporting Kansas City — June 11, 8 p.m. ET

Houston Dynamo vs Austin Bold FC — June 11, 8 p.m. ET

Saint Louis FC vs. Chicago Fire — June 11, 8:30 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs LAFC — June 11, 9 p.m. ET

San Jose Earthquakes vs Sacramento Republic FC — June 11, 10:30 p.m. ET

NYCFC vs North Carolina FC — June 12, 7 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs Philadelphia Union — June 12, 7 p.m. ET

FC Cincinnati vs Louisville City FC — June 12, 7:30 p.m. ET

FC Dallas vs OKC Energy FC — June 12, 8 p.m. ET

Memphis 901 FC vs. Orlando City SC –June 12, 8:30 p.m. ET

Colorado Rapids vs New Mexico United — June 12, 9 p.m. ET

LA Galaxy vs Orange County FC –June 12, 10:30 p.m. ET

Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers — June 12, 10:30 p.m. ET

Chattanooga FC opens up ‘true ownership’ to its supporters

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The owners of Chattanooga FC have opened up their beloved club to fan ownership in a non-cosmetic, very real way, and it is going very well.

Billing the move as the first time in America that a “soccer club offers fans true ownership,” the National Premier Soccer League club has sold over 1,800 of 8,000 available shares in its club over a 24-hour period.

For $125 a share, buyers get “one vote, a stock certificate, an owner lapel pin, a “CFC Owner” yard sign, their name on our 2019 third alternate jersey, access to exclusive owner benefits and merchandise, and invitation to annual shareholders’ meeting.”

[ MORE: Bundesliga 2nd half preview ]

ProSoccerTalk spoke to CFC general manager Sheldon Grizzle about the project, and found that its deep roots stretch back to board room daydreaming and the Green Bay Packers’ selling shares of their NFL club to fans.

“In the very early days of Chattanooga Football Club, we’d sit around in the board room and talk about how cool it would be,” Grizzle said. “What if we could have that commitment and culture in Chattanooga?”

Grizzle played a pivotal role in starting the club over a decade ago before taking a break to work on some other projects. He returned last January after selling his shares in a software company, and became even more involved when CFC’s general manager departed the club to help start a USL League One side in Chattanooga. Grizzle took over the GM duties in November.

He’s always held firm faith in the project, because he says CFC was built for the soccer fans, players, and proud citizens of its region. Having an opponent across town with non-local ownership has only redoubled the club’s commitment to its city.

“The entire founding group is Chattanoogans,” Grizzle said. “This wasn’t about money or creating value to sell it to someone else. It really was about Chattanooga and planting a flag here that says this is Chattanooga’s team and we are never leaving. This is by far the best way to demonstrate that this is the case.

“It has already far exceeded our expectations. When we initially did this we were thinking, if we could get 1000 people to say I’m an owner of Chattanooga FC, that would be a really powerful thing for our community. For us it’s just an honor and an encouragement to have so many people thinking, ‘We love what you do. It’s important, and I’m willing to literally invest and take ownership of this thing which is good for our community,’.”

What broke the dam for CFC was a federal law which allows for crowdfunding across all 50 states. It took a decade-old idea and launched it into hyper speed, relatively speaking.

“We found out about this model about a year ago, maybe 18 months ago, and we’ve chipped away at it,” he said. “In the last four months, we’ve really driven hard on it. It was love of community, commitment to a place that we’re never gonna leave. Now if we ever sold the club at some point in the future — clubs transition, they have to. All of our owners are going to die at some point — and someone can take care of our baby better than us. When that happens, we don’t want there to be any chance that the club can be taken out of city.”

In doing so, Grizzle has ensured that his club will outlive him. It’s something that has driven numerous groups across the country, but CFC is implementing the most ambitious plan yet.

National Premier Soccer League launches professional competition

@NPSLSoccer
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The National Premier Soccer League is the latest entity to help launch a professional league, bringing some of its most successful members together with a couple of NASL teams, and some brand new clubs.

[ MORE: England rocks the USMNT ]

Detroit City FC and Chattanooga FC are joined by Miami FC and the New York Cosmos as the most recognizable names of the bunch.

The league will begin with a Founders Cup at end of the 2019 NPSL season, then moving into a full professional season from Spring 2020 to the Fall.

United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) President John Motta, a member of the U.S. Soccer board of directors, approves of the plan. From the NPSL:

 “We support our members’ growth and expansion of their leagues,” said Motta. “This is another opportunity to develop players, coaches, administrators, and referees at the highest level of adult soccer. This is absolutely critical for player development, as it prepares players onto the next level and also for referee development, as this level of adult soccer is the best training ground for referees in this country.”

The founding members of the league are ASC San Diego, Cal FC, California United Strikers FC, Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC, FC Arizona, Miami FC, Miami United FC, Milwaukee Torrent, New York Cosmos, and Oakland Roots.

Miami FC, Calgary Foothills lift trophies in NPSL, PDL finals

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Two clubs that traveled a long way to play for a league title won their respective honors in National Premier Soccer League and Premier Development League championship matches on Sunday.

[ MORE: Man City wins Community Shield ]

The host venues were a two-hour drive apart, but PDL champion Calgary Foothills FC and NPSL victors Miami FC are based more than 3,000 miles apart.


FC Motown’s impressive first season in the NPSL was not enough for a championship, as ex-NASL side Miami FC headed up north and made Paul Dalglish in unusual company: A manager whose won league titles in both the PDL and NPSL.

[ MORE: 2018-19 Premier League previews ]

Dalglish told ProSoccerTalk before the game that he wanted this one bad, and his men went out and worked hosts FC Motown to the tune of 3-1.

“When I won the PDL, we hosted the final,” Dalglish said. “The two MLS Cups were in neutral venues, so this is the first time I’m going to the lion’s den. … You’ve gotta run and fight and scrap til your lungs burn to enjoy it.”

Dylan Mares was named Man of the Match, scoring Miami’s second goal with a terrific free kick. Also scoring were Jeff Michaud and Jonny Steele, who bagged this beauty.


Meanwhile, Calgary Foothills FC paved their coach’s path to the Canadian Premier League with gold during and after a terrific extra time win over Reading United in Pennsylvania on Saturday in the PDL final.

Ali Musse scored twice, the second in extra time, and Dominick Zator equalized with five minutes to play as Calgary won 4-2. Nico Pasquotti also scored for Foothills.

Aaron Molloy and Kieran Roberts scored Reading’s goals, the former buttressing his reputation as the league’s top prospect with a free kick goal.