National Independent Soccer Association

The National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) is a professional men's soccer league in the United States. The league is in the third tier of American soccer and began play in 2019.[1][2][3] NISA initially used a fall-to-spring season format with a winter break but have switched to spring-to-fall which is more common in the United States.[4]

National Independent Soccer Association
FoundedJune 6, 2017 (2017-06-06)
First season2019–20
CountryUnited States
(North American Football Union)
Number of teams9
Level on pyramid3
Domestic cup(s)U.S. Open Cup
International cup(s)CONCACAF Champions League
(via U.S. Open Cup)
Current championsMichigan Stars FC (1st title)
Most championshipsDetroit City FC (2 titles)
TV partnersEleven Sports
beIN Sports
Current: 2023 National Independent Soccer Association season


League beginnings

Original league logo (2017–2021)

On June 6, 2017, it was announced that the newly formed National Independent Soccer Association would begin play in 2018 targeting an initial 8 to 10 teams, later revised to 8 to 12 teams.[5] Initially, the league outlined plans to introduce a promotion/relegation system, once they reach their goal of 24 teams, the first in US professional soccer and in doing so act as a feeder league to the North American Soccer League (NASL);[6][7] however, the NASL ceased operations prior to those plans being implemented.

On February 13, 2018, NISA co-founder Jack Cummins died suddenly.[8] On May 17, 2018, NISA co-founder Peter Wilt left the NISA to help start up Forward Madison FC in Madison, Wisconsin in USL League One.[9] A committee of club owners has been formed to elect new leadership within the organization.[10]

Reorganization and start of play

On August 31, 2018, NISA filed an application with the United States Soccer Federation for sanctioning as a men's professional league, playing at the third division.[11] On February 16, 2019, NISA was provisionally sanctioned as a Division III league by the United States Soccer Federation.[12] In May 2019, it was announced that clubs were not happy with the silence from the league and that Bob Watkins was no longer the President of NISA and that John Prutch had taken the helm as commissioner.[3] During this same timeframe, the league's start date was pushed back from August 2019 to a targeted September start date.[3]

On June 10, 2019, it became known that both Miami FC and California United Strikers FC were approved at the recent board of governors meeting to join NISA, while the previously identified club in Central Florida would play in Baton Rouge, Louisiana instead of Daytona Beach, Florida.[13] However, it was unclear whether either of the teams would start before the league's September start date.[13] On June 27, 2019, it was announced that Oakland Roots SC would have their inaugural season with the league in the spring season, rather than the previously announced NPSL Founders Cup.[14] On August 15, 2019, the league officially announced the addition of Oakland Roots for the 2019 season and Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC, and Michigan Stars FC for early 2020.[15]

The inaugural season began on August 31, 2019, with a 3–3 draw for Oakland Roots SC and California United Strikers FC in Oakland.[16] On April 27, 2020, following previous postponements, the remainder of the 2019–20 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[17]

On September 10, 2020, the league announced that one of the original co-founders of the league, Peter Wilt, would be rejoining the league in a club operations capacity by attempting to establish a club in Chicago.[18] On September 15, 2020, one of the founding teams, Oakland Roots, announced that they were leaving the league to join the USL Championship a league in the second division of professional soccer.[19]

Development of the amateur and semi-professional game

On April 27, 2020, NISA revealed a new tournament called the NISA Independent Cup that would have member teams face off against high quality amateur and independent professional sides in a regional format.[20] The tournament and 15 participating teams were announced on July 1.[21]

NISA announced its first affiliation agreement with the Gulf Coast Premier League, a USASA affiliated amateur league based in the gulf coast of the United States, on August 13, 2020.[22][23] The partnership is set to provide a pathway to professional status for both clubs and players, while also allowing two GCPL teams to qualify for future editions of the Independent Cup based on league play. This was expanded to include the Midwest Premier League and Eastern Premier Soccer League on September 3 and 4, 2020, respectively.[24][25] On November 23, NISA announced a fourth agreement with the Mountain Premier League.[26]

On September 17, 2020, the league announced that it was establishing a full-year amateur league, the NISA Nation, that would serve as an incubator for amateur and semi-professional clubs that wish to move into NISA's professional league.[27] NISA stated that this full-season amateur league and its previously announced league affiliations would serve as the foundation of a fully open professional to amateur pyramid in the United States.[28]

The league announced an "alliance" with semi-professional women's soccer league United Women's Soccer on January 28, 2021,[29][30] with the target of launching a professional women's league in 2022. This proposed league would occupy the at the time vacant second tier of professional women's soccer in the United States. Many NISA clubs, including Detroit City FC,[31][32] Michigan Stars FC,[33] and NJ Teamsterz FC[34] field or had announced fielding UWS and UWS2 teams. However, on March 20, 2021, it was reported that the alliance had broken down and the leagues had gone their separate ways.



Team City Stadium Capacity Founded First season Head coach
Current 2023 teams[35]
Albion San Diego San Diego, California Canyon Crest Academy Stadium 5,000 2017 2019 Jeff Korytoski
Chattanooga FC Chattanooga, Tennessee Finley Stadium 20,668 2009 2020 Rod Underwood
Club de Lyon FC Orlando, Florida 2022 2023
City Union Rochester and Syracuse, New York TBA 2020 2022 Colton Bly
Gold Star FC Metro Detroit, Michigan 2022 2023
Los Angeles Force Santa Ana, California Valley High School Stadium[lower-alpha 1] 3,500 2019 2019 Thales Peterson
Maryland Bobcats FC Boyds, Maryland Maryland SoccerPlex 4,000 2016 2021 Sylvain Rastello
Michigan Stars FC Washington, Michigan Barnabo Field 4,000 1982 2020 Trevor Banks
Savannah Clovers FC Savannah, Georgia Memorial Stadium[36] 5,000 2016 2023 David Proctor
Clubs on hiatus
California United Strikers FC Irvine, California Championship Soccer Stadium 5,000 2017 2019 Don Ebert
New York Cosmos Uniondale, New York Mitchel Athletic Complex 5,000 2010 2020 Carlos Mendes
Future clubs
Oaks FC Thousand Oaks, California Moorpark High School[37] 1979 2024

Location map

Flower City
Los Angeles
Gold Star
Locations of announced clubs
  • 2022 club
  • Future club
  • Club on hiatus


Team City Joined Final season Fate
Atlanta SC Alpharetta, Georgia Fall 2019 Folded
Bay Cities FC Redwood City, California 2021 2022 Folded
Chicago House AC Bridgeview, Illinois Fall 2021 Moved to Midwest Premier League
Detroit City FC Hamtramck, Michigan Spring 2020 Fall 2021 Moved to USL Championship[38]
Miami FC Miami, Florida Fall 2019 Moved to USL Championship[39]
New Amsterdam FC Hempstead, New York Spring 2020 Fall 2021 Folded
Philadelphia Fury Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Fall 2019 Folded
Oakland Roots SC Oakland, California Fall 2019 Fall 2020 Moved to USL Championship[40]
San Diego 1904 FC San Diego, California Fall 2019 Fall 2021 Merged with Albion SC San Diego[41]
Stumptown AC Matthews, North Carolina Fall 2019 Fall 2021 Folded
Valley United FC Mesa, Arizona 2020 2022 Folded


Savannah Clovers FCNew York Cosmos (2010)Michigan Stars FCDetroit City FCChattanooga FCAlbion San DiegoSan Diego 1904 FCPhiladelphia FuryOakland Roots SCMiami FCCalifornia United Strikers FCAtlanta SC

Current clubs   Future clubs   Former clubs   Club played in different league   On hiatus


Teams that no longer participate in the National Independent Soccer Association are in italics.

Team Championships Year(s) Runners-up Year(s) NISA
Detroit City FC22020–21, 20212
Michigan Stars120223
Albion San Diego120223.5
California United Strikers FC120213.5
Los Angeles Force12020–213.5

NISA Finals results

Season Champions Score Runner Up Venue Attendance Date
2019–20 Season abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2020–21 Detroit City FC 1–0 Los Angeles Force Keyworth Stadium 7,231 July 3, 2021 [42] [43]
2021 Detroit City FC N/A California United Strikers FC Season champion determined by final table results
2022 Michigan Stars FC 1–0 Albion San Diego Romeo Stadium 1,178 November 6, 2022

NISA Independent Cup Champions

Year Central Plains/South Central Great Lakes Mid-Atlantic Southeast Midwest New England/Northeast Pacific Southwest West Coast Empire SoCal
2020 Gaffa FC (GCPL) Detroit City FC Maryland Bobcats FC (NPSL) Chattanooga FC N/A N/A N/A
2021 Louisiana Krewe FC (GCPL) Detroit City FC Maryland Bobcats FC Chattanooga FC Milwaukee Torrent (NPSL) Lansdowne Yonkers FC (EPSL) PDX FC (USL2) California United Strikers FC Los Angeles Force
2022 N/A Michigan Stars FC Maryland Bobcats FC Chattanooga FC N/A Flower City Union Wenatchee All-Stars FC (Cascadia Premier League) Valley FC Raiders (NISA Nation) Los Angeles Force Syracuse Pulse ASC San Diego

NISA Nation and affiliates

In addition to its professional division, NISA operates a full-season amateur league called NISA Nation. NISA's stated long-term goal is to have promotion and relegation between the professional division and NISA Nation, as well as between NISA Nation and seven affiliated regional leagues. Some of those affiliated leagues have entered into promotion and relegation agreements with other leagues, and so a pyramid can be constructed with NISA's Division III professional league at the top.

Level League(s)/division(s)
3 National Independent Soccer Association
9 clubs
4 NISA Nation
Florida Region
5 clubs
NISA Nation
Northeast Region
10 clubs
NISA Nation
Pacific Region
4 clubs
NISA Nation
Southwest Region
6 clubs
5 Gulf Coast Premier League Eastern Premier Soccer League Midwest Premier League Cascadia Premier League Mountain Premier League Southwest Premier League

Cascadia Premier League

Level League(s)/division(s)
5 Cascadia Premier League
First Division
6 clubs
6 Cascadia Premier League
Second Division
6 clubs
7 Cascadia Premier League
Third Division
6 clubs

Eastern Premier Soccer League

Level League(s)/division(s)
5 Eastern Premier Soccer League
Delaware River Conference
10 clubs
Eastern Premier Soccer League
Metropolitan Conference
11 clubs
Eastern Premier Soccer League
Mid-Atlantic Conference
7 clubs
Eastern Premier Soccer League
Northeast Conference
6 clubs
6 Casa Soccer League Select
Liga 1
4 clubs
Cosmopolitan Soccer League
Division 1
11 clubs
Garden State Soccer League
Super Division
10 clubs
Long Island Soccer Football League
Premier Division
7 clubs
Maryland Major Soccer League
5 clubs
7 Cosmopolitan Soccer League
Division 2 - East
9 clubs
Cosmopolitan Soccer League
Division 2 - West
9 clubs
Garden State Soccer League
A Division - Central
11 clubs
Garden State Soccer League
A Division - North
11 clubs
Long Island Soccer Football League
Division 1
7 clubs
8 Cosmopolitan Soccer League
Division 3 - East
7 clubs
Cosmopolitan Soccer League
Division 3 - West
7 clubs
Garden State Soccer League
B Division - Central
11 clubs
Garden State Soccer League
B Division - North
9 clubs
Long Island Soccer Football League
Division 2
7 clubs
9 Cosmopolitan Soccer League
Division 4
10 clubs

Gulf Coast Premier League

Level League(s)/division(s)
5 Gulf Coast Premier League
Eastern Conference
7 clubs
Gulf Coast Premier League
Western Conference
5 clubs

Midwest Premier League

Level League(s)/division(s)
5 Midwest Premier League
East Division
11 clubs
Midwest Premier League
South Division
4 clubs
Midwest Premier League
West Division
12 clubs
6 National Soccer League (Chicago)
Major Division
6 clubs
Wisconsin Primary Amateur Soccer League
7 clubs
7 National Soccer League (Chicago)
First Division
6 clubs

Mountain Premier League

Level League(s)/division(s)
5 Mountain Premier League
East Division
5 clubs

Southwest Premier League

Level League(s)/division(s)
5 Southwest Premier League
Pacific Premier
10 clubs
Southwest Premier League
SoCal Premier First Division
9 clubs
6 Southwest Premier League
SoCal Premier Second Division - North
9 clubs
Southwest Premier League
SoCal Premier Second Division - South
9 clubs

See also


  1. Played two home matches at Championship Stadium in Irvine


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  2. "Inaugural Applicant Markets Announced for New US Pro Third Division Soccer League – NISA". Archived from the original on May 30, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  3. Kivlehan, Chris (May 28, 2019). "With New Leadership In Place, NISA Breaks Its Silence". Midfield Press. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  4. "NISA Formally Announces Shift to Spring/Fall Season". September 14, 2021. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
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  7. "City said to be ripe for pro soccer". June 28, 2017. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
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  10. "Committee Formed to Select New NISA Leadership". May 17, 2018. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  11. "NISA Submits Application For Division III Pro League Sanctioning". Midfield Press. September 4, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
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  15. "NISA Announces Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC & Oakland Roots SC". NISA. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  16. Zimmerman, Douglas (September 1, 2019). "Oakland Roots tie first ever game 3-3". SFGate. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  17. "NISA Official Update". NISA Homepage. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  18. "Soccer Pioneer Peter Wilt Applies for NISA Club in Chicago". Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  19. Zimmerman, Douglas; SFGATE (September 15, 2020). "It's official: Oakland Roots moving to higher league, the USL Championship". SFGate. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  20. Kennedy, Paul. "NISA cancels spring season, sets sights on August start to fall championship". Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  21. "NISA Independent Cup". Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  22. "NISA Announces First Amateur Affiliation With Gulf Coast Premier League (GCPL)". Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  23. Kennedy, Paul. "NISA reaches first amateur league affiliation with GCPL". Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  24. "MWPL Joins Forces with NISA". Midwest Premier League. September 3, 2020. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  25. "NISA EXPANDS AMATEUR AFFILIATIONS WITH THE EASTERN PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE AGREEMENT". Eastern Premier Soccer League. September 4, 2020. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  26. "NISA Scales up With Mountain Premier League Amateur Affiliation". December 1, 2020. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  27. "NISA Announces NISA Nation". Protagonist Soccer. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  28. Norling, Ashle (September 15, 2020). "2021 US Soccer Expansion/Departure Tracker". E Pluribus Loonum. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  29. "Equity and Opportunity at Heart of NISA Alliance with United Women's Soccer". NISA Homepage. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  30. "UWS & NISA Announce The Launch Of A Professional Women's League". UWS Homepage. January 28, 2021. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  31. "Detroit City FC announces women's team". Detroit City FC Homepage. September 28, 2019. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  32. "Detroit City FC Adds Women's Reserve Side, Set to Compete in UWS League Two". Detroit City FC Homepage. December 17, 2020. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  33. "Michigan Stars FC Announces a Women's Team in United Women's Soccer (UWS)". Michigan Stars FC Homepage. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  34. "Expansion News: NJTFC Joins Women's Pro-Am League UWS". NJ Teamsterz FC Homepage. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  35. "NISA Launches Into Spring With Tournament in Chattanooga". Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  36. "Savannah Clovers FC and Chatham County confirm deal to play at Memorial Stadium". October 20, 2022. Retrieved October 21, 2022.
  37. "Schedule". Oaks FC. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  38. "Detroit City FC to Join USL Championship for 2022 Season". USL. November 13, 2021. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  39. "Ottawa Fury FC Announce Relocation, Sale of Franchise Rights to The Miami FC". USL. December 11, 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  40. "USL Championship Welcomes Oakland Roots for 2021 Season". USL. September 15, 2020. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  41. Mark Zeigler (December 15, 2021). "San Diego pro men's soccer team 1904 FC merges with youth club Albion". Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  42. NISA Official [@NISALeague] (July 3, 2021). "Final. #NISAChampionship" (Tweet). Archived from the original on March 31, 2022. Retrieved April 14, 2022 via Twitter.
  43. local sports news DCFC
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