NISA: Initial Thoughts

For those who haven’t heard, there’s a new pro league on the block. The National Independent Soccer Association – NISA – will begin play in the spring of 2018 with an initial number of 8-10 teams. Although it’s not yet confirmed, there’s the very strong possibility that Detroit City will be one of them. We won’t know for sure until after this season, but operating under the assumption that City will be making the jump, here are my first takes:

(1) I think choosing the NISA over USL or NASL is the best-case-scenario for the club. The fee to join will be much lower and, as a charter member, they’ll have a hand in shaping the league from the ground-up, rather than having to navigate the established rules and regulations of the second division leagues.

(2) Since the goal is for the NISA to be fully compliant with USSF’s D-3 standards, the requirement for D-3 clubs to have an owner with a net worth of at least $10 million who controls at least 35% of the club must be considered. While City ownership is undoubtedly working on this (and may have it sorted out behind the scenes for all we know), it’s just one more thing to think about.

(3) One thing I haven’t seen much about is how the current players and coaches will be affected. Obviously, those with college eligibility remaining would not be on the roster next season unless they left school early. As for the post-college and soon-to-be post-college players, the rest of this season could take on another level of significance as a sort of extended tryout for next year. The same can also be said for any of the coaching staff who have aspirations beyond college soccer. In any case, a high amount of turnover is likely this fall and winter as tough decisions will be made all around.

(4) No details on a salary cap or player movement rules yet, but I’ll be watching very closely for any news. From what I’ve read, I’m hopeful the structure will be similar to NASL – no cap, players owned by the clubs rather than the league (as in MLS), true free agency, etc. It will also be interesting to see if the NPSL side will be maintained as a de facto reserve/youth team.


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