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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.

Real Monarchs beat Louisville City to win first ever USL Cup

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Real Monarchs scored three unanswered goals as they routed Louisville City 3-1 at Lynn Stadium to win their first ever USL Cup title.

Noah Powder’s goal in the 66th minute sealed the deal for the visitor’s, adding to the goals scored by defenders Erik Holt and Konrad Plewa in the first half.

Surprisingly enough, it was Lou City who got off to a superb start on Sunday night, though.

Only six minutes after the initial whistle, Lou City’s leading goalscorer, Magnus Rasmussen, scored the game’s first goal, breaking a record for the fastest goal in a USL Cup final.

The defeat brings an end to Lou City’s historic run of consecutive USL Cup-winning seasons.

On July 1, former Real Salt Lake defender, Jamison Olave, took over as the Monarchs interim coach following Martin Vasquez’s unexpected resignation.

USL adds new team in Queens, David Villa involved

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David Villa is heading back to New York City.

This time as a club owner.

A second-tier side called Queensboro FC will begin play in the USL Championship in 2021 with Villa, 37, heading up a ownership group who are bringing the team to Queens.

In a statement to ESPN, the former NYCFC and Major League Soccer star is delighted to be part of setting up the new team which will play at York College in Queens.

“Bringing professional football to Queens’ diverse community is an exciting and unique opportunity,” Villa said. “The beautiful game already lives here, thanks to the melting pot of cultures who are so passionate about the sport. I can’t think of a better place for QBFC to grow. I’m proud to be part of this project.”

Villa spent four seasons with New York City FC and the Spanish national team legend was one of the best Designated Players in MLS history as he scored 82 goals in 130 appearances across all competitions. Villa is now heading back to the Big Apple to head up QBFC and you have to think there will be some kind of link-up with his former club in the future when it comes to giving NYCFC academy products playing minutes in a professional environment.

Jonathan Krane, CEO of New York City-based asset management company KraneShares, is leading the ownership group and Villa will be retired by 2021 (he currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan) when the team begins play, so he can take up a leading role.

Villa lived in Queens during his time playing for NYCFC and was heavily involved in the local community, setting up his own soccer academies and trying to help youngsters in Queens realize their dreams.

Queensboro FC will now be his next project as Villa’s strong connection with NYC continues.

Landon Donovan’s USL club has a name and crest

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USMNT and MLS legend Landon Donovan’s new USL Championship club has a name and logo.

San Diego Loyal will be the club taking its place in the American second tier next season, orange and green a big part of its color scheme.

[ MORE: Another big day for Pulisic ]

The ocean waves on the bottom and “SD” as a sun are pretty cool, and SD hopes to follow Seattle’s rave green in putting a unique color in the soccer landscape with “Torrey Green,” named after the endangered trees of San Diego.

We’re no design whizzes, and the club’s crest explanation says the ‘y’ in local represents the California poppy, but to us is a cool marine nod to a trident (maybe their mascot could be modeled after Jason Momoa, or just straight up be Jason Momoa. We’re kidding Twitter. It’s Sunday morning).

Orange County SC signs 14-year-old to pro deal

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Freddy Adu no longer holds the distinction, or pressure, of being the youngest signing in American soccer history.

That’s because on Monday, USL side Orange County SC signed 14-year-old Francis Jacobs to a professional contract. Jacobs, according to a press release from the club, had interest “from multiple European clubs,” but turned down a move abroad to stay close to home in Southern California. Per USL, Jacobs is eligible to play matches through the rest of the season. It’s unclear whether this type of contract allows Jacobs to keep his NCAA eligibility, should he potentially need to develop in college down the road.

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“Francis is a special Orange County talent and has shown a maturity on the field way beyond his years,” Orange County SC general manager Oliver Wyss said in a statement. “He is the perfect model of player to develop in our pathway to professional program that we have established here in Orange County. The entire organization is committed to providing him with guidance, training and support as he begins the first step in what we believe will be a long professional soccer career. Our training environment will allow him to learn every day from our experienced technical staff and play alongside top pro players, some of which have played on the highest international level in Mexico and Europe. Francis has a bright future ahead and we are proud to have him and his family as part of Orange County SC.”

Jacobs, though still young, has been called up by the U.S. Soccer to take part in training camps with the U.S. Under-14 Boys National Team. He’s been described as a midfielder, but of course, at that age, he can end up playing anywhere.

Hopefully for Jacobs, this isn’t too much too soon. As Freddy Adu has learned over the course of his career, he bought into his own hype and didn’t work hard enough in training, or work hard enough for his teammates. He was capable of a moment of brilliance, but too often it was nowhere to be found.

For Jacobs however, this could be a chance to take his game to a new level. Playing with and against professionals each week calls for a player’s best, and hopefully over time, as he matures into an adult, he can rise to the challenge.

This isn’t a totally unprecedented move for the USL club. One of Orange County SC’s goalkeepers, 17-year-old Aaron Cervantes, signed ahead of last season and now has become the No. 1 for the team in July. He’s started each of his team’s last five games, helping keep two clean sheets.