Detroit City FC is making a pitch to become a member of the new third-tier National Independent Soccer Association, which if successful will realize the club’s goal of becoming a full-time professional outfit.
The club is attending NISA owners’ meetings this week in Pasadena, California, to make a formal presentation to join the eight-team league that will start this fall with a showcase series, a source close to the situation said.
DCFC will not feature in the NISA’s fall series, instead taking part in the National Premier Soccer League Members Cup with play to start Saturday, Aug. 17, vs. Chattanooga FC at Keyworth Stadium. Le Rouge would not begin play in NISA until 2020.
Le Rouge is playing NISA’s Philadelphia Fury in a home-and-home series of friendlies Aug. 31 at Keyworth and Oct. 26 at Franklin Field.
Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Charlotte, Connecticut, Los Angeles, Miami, Orange County, Philadelphia, Providence and San Diego are listed as confirmed NISA markets on the league’s website. Representatives from Chattanooga FC and Oakland Roots FC also are attending the owners’ meetings, the source said.
DCFC has started restructuring its five-member ownership group to meet U.S. Soccer's requirement that one member has a 35-percent stake in the club and is worth at least $10 million, the source said.
Assuming the presentations with NISA go well, U.S. Soccer would do a site visit and interview prospective owners.
Then DCFC’s application would go before U.S. Soccer board for formal approval. The board doesn’t meet again until September.
The eight-year club has drawn international attention for its meteoric rise from a small fourth-tier team starting out at Cass Tech High to one drawing upward of 6,000-7,000 fans at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck.
A friendly Tuesday with Windsor TFC attracted 6,083 spectators at Keyworth. DCFC won 6-1 with Shawn Lawson scoring a hat trick, raising his season goal total to 18 in all competitions.
To meet increased fan demand, the club added a fall schedule this season with the NPSL Founders Cup and a handful of exhibitions. The Founders Cup began to unravel as team defections and insurance issues plagued the 11-team tournament, and the competition was scaled back to six clubs and rebranded as the Members Cup.
Some of those NPSL Founders Cup participants bolted to the NISA, which has risen from the ashes in the past year.
The independent circuit formed two years ago and planned to work in concert with the then North American Soccer League, pledging to introduce promotion and relegation once it reached 24 teams.
Those ideas faded when the NASL went on hiatus and NISA co-founder Jack Cummins died. The other co-founder Peter Wilt left to start Forward Madison, which plays in third-tier USL League One.
Under new leadership, NISA filed and received provisional sanctioning from U.S. Soccer as a third division league in 2018.
Miami FC, which won the NPSL national title last weekend, announced it was joining NISA in June, and not taking part in the Founders Cup.