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NISA seeks new leadership as Wilt leaves to start USL D3 club

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Peter Wilt is leaving his gig as founding hero of upstart pro/rel league NISA to bring a USL D3 side to Wisconsin.

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Big Top Events announced the hiring of Wilt on Thursday, and the executive is leading a drive to name the club for Madison Pro Soccer.

NISA, the North American Soccer League who widely advocated promotion and relegation but has hit some bumps along the way, now seeks a new leader. The organization announced a committee of club owners will lead a search.

“I wish the NISA teams and new leadership well,” Wilt said. “I am proud of the strong vision we developed and now others will need to carry it forward. I am hopeful that my stepping away will allow the disparate open system groups to unify around a shared vision.”

Wilt, who has launched five professional soccer teams in the closed system is returning to his roots the United Soccer Leagues. He will lead Madison Pro Soccer as Managing Director of Big Top Events’ soccer division. Previously, Wilt served as President, General Manager and part owner of the USISL (now USL) Minnesota Thunder. He has also launched USL’s Indy Eleven, NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars and MLS’ Chicago Fire.

NISA announced eight markets in August but has yet to announce a start date. It’s an intriguing idea, but — for better or worse — could undertake some monumental changes without Wilt in the driver’s seat.

As for Madison, Wilt knows what he’s doing when it comes to starting a club, so this is a solid get for the city.

Cincinnati schools OK land swap with FC Cincinnati

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CINCINNATI (AP) Cincinnati Public Schools have agreed to a land swap with the city’s professional soccer team so the club can build a new $200 million stadium on the site where a high school stadium now sits.

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The school board approved the swap Tuesday. As part of the deal, FC Cincinnati agreed to build Taft High School a new $10 million stadium near the school’s current stadium in the city’s west end.

The deal is contingent on the minor league team getting an invitation to join Major League Soccer.

The school board initially rejected the offer because the team was seeking to make reduced property tax payments on the new stadium. The team later agreed to pay about $25 million over the life of the stadium.

Second youngest MLS signing in history nabs assist in USL debut (video)

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Sporting KC prospect Gianluca Busio made his USL debut tonight, and it went pretty, pretty, pretty well for the North Carolina teenager.

Busio subbed off in the 77th minute of Swope Park Rangers-Colorado Springs Switchbacks match after picking up an assist on Tyler Blackwood’s goal just seven minutes into the game.

He also recorded 100 percent passing accuracy (30/30) with 2 key passes and 3 crosses in the first half, according to SKC’s Kurt Austin.

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Busio turns 16 on May 28, and became the second-youngest signing in MLS history — Freddy Adu — when he inked at 15 years and 89 days. Remember that for all the grief Adu’s well-traveled career has provided, the 28-year-old has earned 17 caps with two goals in his career.

Ahead of last season, Drogba admits interest in Marseille role

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Didier Drogba loves everything about soccer, but his time on the field is finally coming to a close.

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The Phoenix Rising owner turned 40 on Sunday, and signaled the end of his playing career in November with an announcement than the 2018 USL season would be his last.

But a Telefoot interview shows the player-owner may take a role with American businessman Frank McCourt’s Marseille project (translated by ESPN):

“We’ll have to see what is offered. I’m always ready to help. … In any case, Marseille are showing good things this year. Rudi Garcia’s project is taking shape, they’re building a team with young players. It’s excellent to stay in the top three with a team like that. As a fan, I have a lot of faith in them.”

Drogba scored 32 times in his only season at Marseille.

He also netted nine times with three assists in 14 appearances last season as Phoenix finished fifth in the USL’s Western Conference before bowing out in penalty kicks against Swope Park Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.

Report: USL Austin forging ahead despite looming Crew threat

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USL Austin is back in motion despite the looming threat of a Columbus Crew relocation to the home of Spoon and Explosions in the Sky.

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The Austin Statesman is reporting that the expansion group is following USL direction to pursue a first season in 2019, and that the club could still be moved if Anthony Precourt gets his wish to move the Crew to Texas.

The “Save The Crew” movement has helped turn Precourt’s desires into a black (and gold) eye on Major League Soccer, and perhaps this is a step in the right direction for one of the league’s first teams.

However, it seems a challenging concept for Austin fans: Get behind a new team in your town, one which may not exist in a year’s time.

That said, moving your fanship to a new logo over just 365 days isn’t exactly like moving a 23-year-old club with a championship away from its soccer-specific stadium via a shadily-worded contract.

From the Statesman’s article, which spoke to the USL and USL Austin owner Bobby Epstein:

USL Austin sat on idle for 4½ months, giving Anthony Precourt time to come up with a stadium solution. If the Crew were to relocate here, the division two franchise would request a move to another market.

“The league has told us we’ve got to get our franchise started or we risk losing it,” Epstein said Monday.