American Soccer Pyramid Grows As Our Country’s Passion Deepens
Understanding the American Soccer Pyramid and celebrating the new NISA professional league.
America is a huge country with a vast population. Many people in the soccer world share a burning desire to grow the world’s most popular sport in the USA and there has been a strong focus in recent years on developing homegrown talent instead of importing and paying for soccer pros from across the oceans.
What is the American Soccer Professional Pyramid?
The Major league Soccer (MLS) is the top tier of the American soccer pyramid followed by the United Soccer League (USL) Championship, which is the second tier.
The USL League One is the USL’s third division of professional soccer and debut in Spring 2019 with 10 teams competing in a 28-game regular season.
In most countries, there is a hierarchy of professional soccer leagues. In America, we are just beginning to build a vibrant hierarchy and this fall, we welcome the new National Independent Soccer Association (NISA).
NISA a third-division professional league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and shares the third division of professional soccer in America with USL League One.
How Does NISA Helps Solve a Problem in The American Soccer Pyramid?
NISA enters the American soccer pyramid on the third tier … but what does this really mean?
There have never been enough opportunities for talented young, want-to-be professional soccer players to break into the ranks of pro sports. And, considering the size of our nation, there are not enough places for players who no longer make the cut at the MLS clubs to still play professionally and share their experiences with younger players.
NISA. NISA creates more professional playing roster spots to fill in America.
What Makes NISA Different in the American Soccer Pyramid?
For many, the cost of a USL franchise is prohibitive. It now costs a reported $7 million dollars to buy a USL franchise. NISA does not charge franchise fees and provides a valuable alternative, and possibly the only way for some to launch a pro soccer club in the USA. According to NISA, not charging entry fees will allow their clubs to invest more in player development, as well as strengthen their infrastructure and financial sustainability.
NISA has launched with eight teams with commitments from an additional five teams for 2020. Split evenly on both coasts, NISA has 1904 FC, LA Force, California United Strikers, Oakland Roots in California and Atlanta FC, Miami FC, Philadelphia Fury and Stumptown Athletic in North Carolina on the East Coast.
NISA Kicks Off in San Diego and Orange County
This weekend, the San Diego 1904 FC has its home opener and hosts California United Strikers on Saturday, Sep 14 • 7:04 PM at SDCCU Stadium (Formerly Qualcomm Stadium) Click for Tickets
Next weekend, Cal United Strikers hosts its home opener and takes on LA Force on Sunday, Sep 22 • 4:00 PM at Championship Stadium at Orange County Great Park Click for Tickets
On MyCujoo, the NISA matches can be seen live.
Why is NISA Important in the American Soccer Pyramid?
“It is important for players to have different opportunities,” said Warren Barton, a
“The game in America is growing.”Warren Barton, former defender for the England National Team and soccer studio analyst for FOX Sports
“Not everyone has the same objectives and NISA provides another opportunity to go forward,” said Barton who coached in the NPSL for several seasons. “As a professional soccer league, NISA is a step above the upper tier of the world of Amateur Men’s Soccer where teams compete in the NPSL and the UPSL.”
“There is nothing like living the dream of being a professional soccer player,” said Barton. “It is all about the opportunity to play and it is important these new pros grab this chance with both hands.”
Don Ebert, Head Coach for California United Strikers, also believes it is important players seize the opportunity and recognizes his clubs responsibility in developing these young professionals to reach their peak levels of performance.
“Young players today need a place where they can learn what being a professional really is. NISA gives them this chance.”Don Ebert, Head Coach for Orange County’s California United Strikers
“Players can only gain experience by being on the field and NISA should be that venue for young players to gain this valuable experience,” said Ebert. “It is our goal to entertain our fans and we want to score goals.”
“New professionals need to understand the everyday demands of being a professional athlete; the importance of proper rest, diet, fitness and embracing fully the professional culture and lifestyle,” said Ebert who is the longtime Technical Director for Strikers FC.
“At 1904 FC, we are building a team for the city, and for me, that is very important, it is a club for the city of San Diego,” said Alex Gontran, Head Coach for 1904 FC. “NISA is just beginning, but we have very big goals and we are committed to developing our talented players.”
“1904 FC is the first professional soccer team in San Diego.”Alex Gontran, Head Coach for San Diego’s 1904 FC
Obviously, proud to be part of America’s Finest City, Gontran said, “San Diego is one of the best cities in the USA and has many talented players. We can train every day, even in January and this gives us a real advantage. We have the opportunity to work harder and every day, so we can be better than teams in other cities.”
Gontran is a Frenchman who left coaching in Paris to come to the USA is a part-owner with Demba Ba and Eden Hazard in San Diego’s 1904 FC.
“In the future, I would like to see Promotion and Relegation between leagues based on a team’s performances,” said Gontran. “It is very most important that NISA is so affordable — there are no franchise fees. This lets us focus on the players.”
“NISA will help develop the future soccer stars of tomorrow,”Michael Collins, President and General Manager of California United Strikers.
The soccer clubs in NISA are focused on local area talent. More than half of 1904 FC’s roster has deep roots in the greater San Diego area and Orange County’s team shares the same focus.
“California United Strikers FC’s team will be a 23-man roster with 14 of our players from Southern California — the Oceanside to Los Angeles area,” said Michael Collins, President and General Manager of California United Strikers. “Many of our players have just signed their first professional contracts and we are excited to provide them with a pathway to becoming a professional.”
Collins is a former professional player with a seventeen-year career that included earning two caps with the U.S. National team.
“No one is getting rich playing second-tier or even in the MLS,” said Collins. ” We saw a huge gap in the American soccer pyramid and a lot of talented players who were overlooked. We are a club that will help develop players. One of our goals is to help players play in Europe, South America,