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Rowdies, Fury leave NASL, join USL ahead of 2017 season


The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC’s time in the NASL is officially over, as the team has sealed a move to the USL.

Reports were confirmed on Tuesday as the USL officially announced that the Rowdies and Fury will join the league for the 2017 season. The clubs are expected to join the Eastern Conference as it joins the USL alongside Reno 1868 FC.

“We are excited to join the United Soccer League in 2017,” said Rowdies Chairman and CEO Bill Edwards. “I have said from the day I acquired controlling interest in this club that I wanted to make it one of the most successful teams in North America. The Rowdies’ move to the USL is a positive step toward reaching the long-term goals of the club.”

“We’re excited to be joining the fastest growing soccer league in the world,” Fury FC President John Pugh said. “The USL’s goal is to be the top second division league in the world and we are thrilled to be part of it. Our growing and loyal fan base deserves and can expect a very high caliber of play and tremendous competition.”

The move brings the NASL down to 10 teams with the addition of the San Francisco Deltas, although several other clubs have been linked with moves away from the league. As things stand, just the Rowdies, Fury and Minnesota United are confirmed departures. In addition, both Rayo OKC and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers have dealt with financial issues throughout the 2016 season.

The 2016 USL season wrapped up on Sunday as New York Red Bulls II topped Swope Park Rangers, 5-1, in the USL Cup final.

Prior to their departure, the Rowdies will wrap up the 2016 NASL season on Sunday with a visit to the Jacksonville Armada, while Fury FC takes on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.



  1. I think the USSF, which granted the NASL a waiver as it did not meet the requirements for a D2 League, will pull that by next year. The USL which has a permit pending before the USSF to allow it to operate a D2 League starting in 2020 (or earlier) is close to being approved. It will give the USL’s D2 an opportunity to bring in D2 qualified teams from its pool of D3’s and any NASL team who can meet the qualifications for the USL’s D2. For some NASL teams this is a lifeline they look to.

    I expect the USL’s D2 will have 10-12 teams when it starts competition. The USL D2 teams, no doubt, will be some of, but not all, NASL teams along with some good performing (financially as well as sporting) USL D3 teams. I do not think that there will be any MLS affiliated or owned teams in the USL D2, they are more satisfied with the USL’;s D3 setup, which more meets their need of a reserve league.

  2. This seems like a pretty big blow to the NASL, right? One of the “legacy” teams from the old NASL, and one that was on good financial footing (at least for a minor league soccer team).

    I’d think they would want to stay in the NASL for no reason other than the number of short away trips.

    The NASL better announce some western teams to keep SF company.

  3. Well that really sucks. Why can’t the two leagues work together to create a more competitive 2nd division? What are the real issues keeping these two leagues from combining as one?

    Is there any reporting out there on these issues?

    • Didn’t the clubs originally leave 2nd division league (A-League? forgot its name) because club owners wanted more autonomy vs centralized authority. I believe the NASL is where these clubs went and the others, e.g., Rochester Rhinos, went to USL.

      I doubt they will be able to pay Joe Cole what he makes in the USL… probably will move to some MLS club.

    • The issue, quite simply, is that the NASL doesn’t want to do that. For several years now, the league has been beating its chest about how it can be a Division 1 league and compete with MLS, and it has distinctly avoided any formal partnerships. Meanwhile, the USL and MLS decided to get along, and thus they’re thriving together.

      Assuming the NASL doesn’t change its stance and continues with its sinking ship, the end result will be that eventually the USL will re-split into D2 and D3 leagues while the NASL goes under. The USL has already applied for D2 status, though I can’t see the entire league going that way with teams like Harrisburg and Charleston clearly unable to rise to D2 standards.

    • Dude, this is great news! Usl is becoming a strong and vibrant 2nd division. We clearly do not need the Nasl as part of the pyramid. Usl/Mls relationship and strengthening of usl makes promotion/relegation a real viable option in 10-20 years once the game has reached maturity in the us and the infrastructure is completely in place.


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