TAMPA, Fla. – It’s official. In what had been rumored and speculated for weeks, North Carolina FC has jumped over the North American Soccer League to the United Soccer League.
North Carolina FC will join Fresno FC, Las Vegas Lights FC and Nashville SC, as well as a new club to be operated by Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, as new additions for the 2018 season.
The move left the NASL with seven teams. The NASL is challenging a U.S. Soccer Federation ruling that rescinded its Division Two status for 2018, in court.
The NASL issued a statement after the news broke:
“The NASL confirms that North Carolina FC has withdrawn from the league. The NASL is proud to have supported professional soccer in North Carolina for five years prior to Steve Malik’s acquisition of the club at the end of the 2015 season. North Carolina FC’s departure from NASL represents the damage caused by the U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision to revoke NASL’s Division II sanctioning for the 2018 Season. The NASL remains committed to pursuing its legal claims to ensure that the future of its players, fans, and clubs remains bright.”
North Carolina FC has aspirations of joining MLS someday. But first things first.
“We are excited to be joining the USL effective immediately,” North Carolina Football Club owner Steve Malik said in a statement. “The USL has seen tremendous growth, not only in new markets and franchises, but in the quality of play and fan awareness. We look forward to contributing to that growth in years to come.”
The team celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016 and rebranded to North Carolina FC prior to the 2017 season. The club plays at the 10,000-seat Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
North Carolina FC also operates the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League, North Carolina FC U-23 in the Premier Development League and is partnered with North Carolina FC Youth, which boasts 10 boys and four girls U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams among its programs.
“Today we are thrilled to announce the addition of another successful club to the USL,” USL Chief Executive Officer Alec Papadakis said in a press release. “We were very impressed with the level of sophistication of the operations and the ownership of North Carolina FC, led by their visionary owner and chairman Steve Malik. Steve brings a wealth of business experience to the league and has strong local community support. This is a first-class club with premier facilities, in a desirable market with a strong base of support – all the qualities that make a club successful in the USL.”