The National Independent Soccer Association, the new U.S. Soccer-sanctioned Division III men's pro league, suffered its first casualty.
Citing a "last-minute reversal" from one of its
main investors, the Philadelphia Fury was forced to withdraw from the fall NISA Showcase after playing two road games and before its home opener against Atlanta SC on Saturday at Franklin Field.
“This is the best decision for the Philadelphia Fury," the league said in a statement, "and the league, as it will allow them time to prepare for Spring league play. The League Office is
working closely with the Fury’s Management Team on all player-related contractual obligations. NISA’s leadership will also be working with the club to address shortcomings to resume
competition for the Spring 2020 season."
The fall Showcase began with eight teams, all slated to play in
the NISA in 2020. Detroit City FC and Chattanooga FC are playing in the NPSL's six-team Members Cup but are also playing exhibitions against NISA teams ahead of their move to the NISA in 2020.
The current NISA teams range from established clubs like Miami FC, which played in the NASL and is the two-time defending NPSL champion, to start-up teams like San Diego 1904 FC and the Oakland
The Fury takes its name from the old NASL team that played in 1978-80 and whose investors included Mick Jagger
, Rick Wakeman
, Peter Frampton
. More recently, the current Fury CEO Matt Driver
operated the Philadelphia Fury in the American Soccer League, a USASA Region I league he ran for three years (2014-17).
The Fury's only Showcase game was an 8-1 loss at Miami FC. It also played Detroit City FC in an exhibition and lost, 1-0.
Five of the seven NISA teams have played home games. The
league has not released attendance figures for the games, and media coverage has been sketchy.
The Roots' strong community organizing effort has paid off with packed crowds at Laney
College's junior college football stadium for a league game against Cal United Strikers FC and a friendly against Mexico's FC Juarez. Crowd estimates ranged to as high as 5,000.
other hand, San Diego 1904 FC, backed by Eden Hazard
and Demba Ba
, drew an announced crowd of just 3,028 fans -- San Diego Tribune termed
crowd count "a little generous" -- for its home debut at 70,000-seat SDCCU Stadium, a 3-1 win over the Cal United Strikers FC.
Atlanta SC played its first game at Lupo Family Field on the
campus of Life University in suburban Marietta. Miami FC opened at Barry University's Buccaneer Field while the Los Angeles Force used Rio Hondo College's soccer stadium, part of a $3.8 million soccer
complex that opened in 2016.
All three stadiums hold less than 2,000 seats, which is permissible under U.S. Soccer's sanctioning requirements for Division III leagues like NISA and the
first-year USL League One, which has 10 teams.
The best-supported of the NISA teams is Detroit City FC, which drew 5,859 fans at Keyworth Stadium for the Fury game. A match against
Mexico's Atlas during the recent FIFA break drew 7,478 fans.