By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

The Cosmos and New Amsterdam FC will get a preseason after all in their preparation for the National Independent Soccer Association fall season.

The league on Wednesday announced plans for the inaugural NISA Independent Cup. The Cup is a regionalized competition featuring independent professional and amateur clubs. The competition, which will feature 15 teams and four NISA squads, will be held in July to give teams an opportunity to prepare for the fall campaign, which is slated to kick off on Aug. 8.

The competition is scheduled to begin on July 11, but no other details and a schedule were available. Four regional champions will be crowned; there will be no national champion.

Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC, the Cosmos and New Amsterdam FC are the four NISA clubs participating.

The two New York-based teams were placed in the Mid-Atlantic Region along with amateur teams Maryland Bobcats FC and FC Baltimore Christos. That group will play in Maryland in late July.

“The Independent Cup will be a great opportunity to get back on the field and see what kind of team we have,” Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover said. “It’s also a great step by NISA to give all these independent clubs a chance to compete during a very difficult time for our sport in the U.S.“

Stover was referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down or delayed all sports, including on the professional end.

Needless to say, the Cosmos welcomed the competition to prepare for the regular season. In the past, they would play a series of pre-season matches against college teams, but because schools are not in session, this is the next best thing, perhaps better.

“It’s going to be crucial for all the clubs and teams involved,” head coach Carlos Mendes told FrontRowSoccer.com. “It’s a great opportunity for everybody, especially going into a season, knowing

New Amsterdam FC officials were not immediately available for comment.

NISA commissioner John Prutch was encouraged by the enthusiasm about the competition.

“The Independent Cup champions the spirit of the game, allowing talent to take the field and the beautiful game to shine on the pitch,” he said in a statement. “It’s the first of its kind where only independent clubs compete and one that our Fall to Spring schedule allows. We look forward to this being an annual event allowing both amateur and professional clubs to compete for the Cup in the true meaning of independent soccer.”

Added NISA EVP of expansion Joshua Prutch:  “The participating clubs have shown incredible determination and support for one another and the NISA Independent Cup. Their ownership of the process has resulted in a competition that serves the best interest of all clubs and exemplifies the unity of independent community-based clubs. I am so incredibly excited to continue to work with the NISA Board and their independent amateur brethren as the NISA Independent Cup will continue to evolve in future years.”

The four regions and teams:

Great Lakes Region

Detroit City FC

FC Buffalo

Cleveland FC

Mid-Atlantic Region

New York Cosmos

New Amsterdam FC

Maryland Bobcats FC

FC Baltimore Christos

Central Plains Region

Lone Star Republic

Revolution SC

Gaffa FC

Louisiana Krewe FC

Southeast Region

Chattanooga FC

Savannah Clovers FC

Soda City FC

Georgia Revolution FC

NISA also announced that all clubs will adhere to the league’s Return to Play Protocol created and established with top medical professionals and in accordance with the Center of Disease Control guidelines to ensure the health and safety of players, staffs and personnel. The competition also will adhere to all state and local governance in place at the time of the tournament.

Streaming details will be available soon, the league said.

Details on the Independent Cup schedule can be found at https://nisasoccer.com/independentcup.

Here is a related story:

A THUMB’S UP: Mendes on the Cup: It’s going to be crucial for teams’ preparation