DIII 2019 sanctioning should be interesting: USL Division III has submitted sanctioning paperwork to the U.S. Soccer Federation for at least 10 teams, and it could be joined by the independent NISA.
There’s been talk of 14 teams in the inaugural USL DIII season, but the sanctioning proposal lists six — South Georgia Tormenta FC, FC Tucson, Greenville Triumph SC, Madison Pro Soccer, Toronto FC II and Chattanooga Pro Soccer — with four more to come, which we’d expect to include MLS-owned current and suspended USL teams moving down a level of play.
“This is a landmark moment not only for the United Soccer League but also soccer as a whole in North America,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis in a press statement. “Over the past several years, alongside the effort to elevate the USL to Division II, we developed the plan to launch a new, competitive and exciting professional third-division league that would further the growth of soccer across the U.S. The new league is announcing teams in ten thriving markets that exhibit a proven demand for the professional game. This is a truly national league with more markets set to join as we grow toward our target of 24 teams by 2021, the league’s third season.
“As a professional league, we are committed to providing a thrilling experience for fans and a top-notch experience for players – and a proper stadium plays a major role in that experience,” Papadakis continued. “USL Division III features two clubs – South Georgia Tormenta FC and Greenville Triumph SC – building new soccer-specific stadiums, equating to more than $30 million in construction and design, and much more in local economic impact. The league also features clubs utilizing and renovating existing infrastructure to provide the best experience while revitalizing community assets.”
Meanwhile, USL DIII may face some competition on the third level of the U.S. Soccer Federation pyramid in the form of a submission from the independent NISA. While this startup league has been very quiet, especially after founder Peter Wilt took on a position to develop a soccer program for Madison Pro Soccer, a report says there may be as many as 10 teams involved in the NISA sanctioning application. With talk of new California teams associated with both the NISA and USL DIII efforts, we could be in for some interesting time before the Sept. 1 deadline set by USSF for 2019 sanctioning.