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Miami FC makes surprise move to United Soccer League

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The United Soccer League scored an eyebrow raiser on Wednesday when it announced the addition of Miami FC.

Miami purchased the franchise rights of the disbanded Ottawa Fury, and joins the USL Championship for the 2020 season.

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Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva had been an outspoken proponent of promotion and relegation, reportedly offering a $4 billion TV deal to MLS to become an open system. He’s also one of the men who filed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a bid to force U.S. Soccer to adopt the system.

USL president Jake Edwards has spoken about bringing pro/rel into the league, between the Championship and League One. Adding the club owned by Silva, a powerful voice, begs the idea that there are some big things in the oven.

With the move, Miami FC will have to compete with a Major League Soccer team down the street in Inter Miami. They’ll play in the FIU stadium named after Silva.

Here’s what Miami FC president Paul Dalglish said via a team release:

“The decision to join USL gives us two key things.  First, it gives us a stable platform to further expand our academy program and community work, meaning accessible, inclusive and fun family events that bring all of Miami’s soccer communities together.

“Second, it means we’ll be playing 17 home games at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, providing a fantastic experience for the army of loyal fans that have stood by us. We can’t wait to get started and begin the campaign to our add to our trophy haul.”

It’s a far cry from its roots in the NASL as a buccaneer of professional soccer, but provides stability for a team which has finished first in its last five campaigns spread across three leagues: the NASL, NPSL, and the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA).

Some see pro/rel as an inevitability given FIFA’s rules and a MLS landscape which is now producing an uneven schedule and a number of markets which seek top-tier teams and have the money and audience to support higher tiers.

And at some point, it must be acknowledged that the USL has a number of markets blocked in their pathway to MLS and could emerge as a righteous competitor or fold into a gigantic tiered system. The addition of Miami in a year Major League Soccer is launching Inter Miami is unlikely to be welcomed by MLS commissioner Don Garber.

Meanwhile, Miami FC’s departure means U.S. soccer landscape will certainly turn an eye toward NISA. The nascent league features Atlanta SC, California United, Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC, Los Angeles Force, Michigan Stars, Oakland Roots, San Diego 1904 FC, Stumptown Athletic, the New York Cosmos, and unnamed teams in Connecticut and Providence.

NISA announced that U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors formally approved Detroit City, Chattanooga, Oakland and Michigan on Wednesday. Detroit and Chattanooga are the two highest-profile grass roots clubs outside the USL and MLS, and widely viewed as bellwethers for independent clubs.

VIDEO: FC Cincinnati’s incredible fans excel in MLS home opener

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FC Cincinnati are one of the major success stories in American soccer in the last decade. Scratch that. Probably in the top five, ever.

Their home opener as a Major League Soccer franchise on Sunday proved that fact beyond doubt.

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Ever since they burst onto the scene in their debut season in 2016, FC Cincy have stunned everyone along the way at every major milestone point. Their incredible levels of support in the USL saw them average over 17,000 fans for three-straight seasons (their last USL season saw an average of 25,717 to set a new league record), and they had huge crowds of over 30,000 for U.S. Open Cup games and a big friendly against Premier League side Crystal Palace in the summer of 2016.

This is something that has been created from the bottom up, and a team which feels genuine. Three years ago nobody would have said Cincinnati, Ohio was a hotbed for soccer. Now, it is one the hotbeds.

So, we expected something big for their home opener against Portland Timbers and Cincinnati delivered on and off the pitch.

Their first-ever MLS win celebrated wildly by a crowd of 32,250 fans, and the strong bond the club has created between themselves and the various supporters groups is wonderful to see. It is reminiscent of what MLS have at home games for the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, LAFC and Atlanta United to name a few of the recently successful expansion franchises.

Of course, Cincinnati still have a way to go to match the likes of Portland, Seattle and Atlanta in terms of success on and off the pitch, but they have made an exceptional start.

Before, during and after their 3-0 victory over the Timbers, the FC Cincinnati fans delivered a cauldron of noise inside Nippert Stadium which really makes you wonder why they would need to move to a soccer-specific stadium nearby.

There’s no doubt the new stadium they are building in the West End of Cincy will be awesome, but the spiritual home of this club is at the football stadium of the University of Cincinnati and is a huge part of their story.

Whatever happens in the years to come, FC Cincinnati will always look back on March 17, 2019 as a wonderful celebration in their history. It was the day that Cincinnati arrived as a soccer destination in MLS and it is clear it will become a key city in the rise of the sport in the U.S. in years to come.

Below are a few videos which set the scene throughout a memorable day for everyone connected with FC Cincinnati.


Nashville SC to keep its name, unveils logo for MLS 2020

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Nashville SC will remain Nashville SC when it moves into Major League Soccer next season, the USL club announced on Wednesday.

Nashville SC’s logo is an N wearing headphones — I apologize if I’m wrong here, but that’s what I see — as the Music City becomes a welcome addition to the United States’ top flight.

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Stunningly The fans wanted to keep the name of the club they’ve been supporting for a few years, and former Liverpool executive Ian Ayre announced that the club will keep a color from its crest as well.

“Gold is our primary club color, and we need to own that color in the sport. As we grow as a team we want to be recognizable by our color, our name and our values as a club.”

What do you think? It certainly could’ve been worse! We look forward to the building up of a regional rivalry with FC Cincinnati, Atlanta United, Sporting KC, and maybe one day Saint Louis FC.

USL’s Nashville SC will not take Gutman on loan due to MLS disapproval

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Earlier Saturday, MLSSoccer.com posted an article on MAC Hermann Trophy winner Andrew Gutman signing with Celtic, but curiously did not mention his loan destination.

In fact, no destination was mentioned. Gutman’s quotes mentioned “my loan in America.”

That destination was Nashville SC, the soon-to-be Major League Soccer club currently participating in the second-tier United Soccer League.

Key word: Was. Because even though Nashville announced the move, it had to walk back the idea on Saturday.

Since the club cannot say anything else, let’s venture down the road a little bit.

Chicago Fire had Gutman’s “Homegrown” rights, having nurtured the player from 2012 until he left for Indiana.

But Gutman’s profile grew beyond his desire to stay in MLS, and trials with Rangers and Celtic saw the 22-year-old fullback sign with the latter. Unable to secure him a permit in Scotland, Gutman was loaned to Nashville.

No problem there, right? Get the kid some playing time, a potential answer to the United States men’s national team left back problems.

Wrong. Gutman will need to find another home — there are plenty of clubs he could sign with, including Chicago — outside of the transfer window because Nashville is going to MLS next year and the league does not approve of his move to Celtic.

It’s a terrible look for the league, and not a great high-five to one of its new members (who paid a boatload of money to join the club).

“Hey guys, you know that guy you signed? He belongs to another club. No, he didn’t sign there, but if he ever comes back to America, our rule is that that club has first dibs.”

FC Cincinnati switches crest ahead of MLS debut

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FC Cincinnati has unveiled its crest for 2019’s maiden voyage in Major League Soccer.

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Sticking with the orange and blue color combination which has served them since inception, the shield has FC in the top left corner, Cincinnati running diagonally left-to-right in blue script on white, and a winged lion holding a sword as the primary icon.

FCC will draft up to five current MLS players in the Expansion Draft on Dec. 11. Teams will announce their protected lists on Dec. 10.

Cincinnati will play in the Eastern Conference. It won the USL regular season championship under coach Alan Koch in 2018.