Image: United Soccer League
Some familiar faces have joined San Antonio FC in the United Soccer League (USL) as Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury announced they will be joining the league in 2017. The two teams will defect to USL from the North American Soccer League (NASL) former home of the San Antonio Scorpions.
It is unlikely that the two teams will make a return to Toyota Field, as the two will both play in the eastern conference. The addition of these two teams to the league could still have repercussions for San Antonio as it will no doubt help USL seeking to earn division two status from the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).
Tampa Bay is an especially lucrative side to add to the league, as they are a well-established team with a recognizable name. That name is just an attempt to continue on from the original 1974 side which folded in 1994, and so is not strictly the same club but they have come under new ownership in Bill Edwards.
In recent years Tampa Bay have managed to renovate Al Lang Stadium converting it in to much more of a soccer stadium rather than a baseball venue. The capacity of 7, 227 is a strong capacity for USL and they have been seeing crowds around 6000, which will boost USL attendances which often lag.
Edwards was very excited by the move to USL and said in a statement “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.”
Joining their NASL colleagues in defecting to USL is Ottawa Fury a club with a tie to Texas with former Austin Aztex coach Paul Dalglish now the coach at Ottawa. John Pugh is the president of the club and has been investing in soccer since 2002 with a W-League team, which gives him a prior connection to USL as the W-League was run by USL.
Ottawa has only been in the NASL since 2014, and lost the Soccerbowl Championship game last year after a strong first two seasons. The ownership group in Ottawa also owns their Canadian Football team and manages TD Place Stadium, Ottawa’s main outdoor venue.