By Michael Lewis
There will be some professional soccer in the metropolitan area after all this summer.
The Cosmos will make their debut play in the National Independent Soccer Association fall season the weekend of Aug. 8, the league announced Thursday. The regular season will run through the weekend of Oct. 11.
NISA, whose spring season was cancelled in March by the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to house eight teams in two conferences – Eastern and Western – for the fall season.
The NISA champion will be determined via a seeded bracket tournament based on regional competition rankings at a site to be determined in late October.
The Cosmos and each team will play eight regular season matches as all four Cosmos home games will be held behind closed doors.
“Obviously very excited and feel fortunate as a club, for the league to be moving forward,” Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said. “It has been a very difficult year for everyone. It hasn’t been easy. To have the announcement that we will be playing and getting back to what we love most, getting back onto the field … very excited. Of course, things will be a little different.”
The Cosmos, who called Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. home during the National Premier Soccer League and NPSL Members Cup seasons in 2019, are seeking to find a home venue from several area colleges. The club wants to play on fields without American football lines, according to a source.
New Amsterdam FC, Detroit City FC, the Michigan Stars and Chattanooga FC and Cosmos are expected to comprise the Eastern Conference with Stumptown United participation undetermined.
NISA commissioner John Prutch stressed safety first for all players, coaches, teams and staffs.
“The health and safety of our players, coaches, staffs and fans are of the utmost importance,” he said in a statement. “As a result, our Return To Play protocol takes into consideration numerous processes and alternative plans, including playing behind closed doors.
“As we move forward, we will continue to adhere with CDC recommendations and state and local mandates. Our
board of governors have been very supportive and unified in this process and have my gratitude. I look forward to our clubs getting back to competing on the pitch and determining a Fall champion, may the best team win!”
Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover welcomed back the chance to play.
“The owners of NISA have stayed resolute to play this fall season,” he said. “Commercially, it’s going to be difficult for some of these clubs, but it is also an opportunity, not the least of which is potential streaming and television broadcast opportunities.”
The NISA fall season and broadcasting schedules are expected to be released in several weeks.
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