Detroit City FC, the symbol of the independent pro soccer movement, is moving.
Le Rouge is leaving NISA after two seasons to join the USL Championship in 2022. Such a move would have been unimaginable a couple of years ago.
Detroit City FC was founded in 2012 by the members of a local co-ed rec league and played in the amateur NPSL until 2019 when it joined NISA.
By then, it had become the most successful community-oriented club, drawing more than 5,000 fans a game for five seasons in a row after its move to Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. The stadium was renovated with money raised by Le Rouge and filled with some of the most colorful and passionate fans in the country.
The Northern Guard Supporters were vocal about their distaste for the USL and its franchise model. The irony is, Detroit City FC is now joining the league its fans so detested.
Le Rouge dominated NISA, winning the fall 2020, spring 2021 and fall 2021 titles along with the 2020-21 league championship.
Detroit City FC isn't the first NISA team to join the USL Championship. Miami FC joined in 2020 and the Oakland Roots began play in 2021. (The Roots just upset the El Paso Locomotive in the conference quarterfinals.)
Detroit City FC move reflects the continuing growth of the USL, the expansion of its academy league and its move into women's soccer -- DCFC has launched a women's club in addition to its youth program -- as well as the problems the bare-bones NISA has had with its hands-off approach in the management of the league. Sean Mann
, the club’s founder, co-owner and CEO told
the Detroit News:
“Frankly, we’ve just been building momentum and we didn’t want to lose that. As an organization, we’ve been growing for the last 10 years and been building up to this point. On the professional side, the men have been thriving. On the women’s side, we got the team launched. We now have 2,000 kids in our youth system. And so the move to the USL just provides a home that makes sense for all those entities."
Detroit City FC will continue to play in Keyworth Stadium but plans to make some stadium upgrades and add staff.