CHICAGO – The National Independent Soccer Association has formed a partnership formed with Midwest Premier League, it was announced Thursday.

The agreement follows NISA’s recent affiliation with the Gulf Coast Premier League.

“We consistently talk about NISA being ‘a home for clubs’ to grow,” NISA executive vice president of expansion Josh Prutch said in a statement. “We are coming together with a shared vision of advancement and growth for players and clubs based on performance on the pitch.”

As part of the partnership, NISA will allot MWPL at least two merit-based spots in the annual NISA Independent Cup tournament. MWPL also will be an active participant on the NISA Alliance Board, which manages the interconnectedness of the growing number of affiliates.

“This relationship provides our nascent league a great foundation for growing the game at the grassroots level,” MWPL commissioner Andy Hayes said in a statement. “Our commitment to the clubs centers on sustainability through high-level competition, participation in regional and national cup competitions, and sharing of ideas and best practices.”

The Midwest Premier League is a regional league run by its member teams. Divided into east and west divisions, the MWPL has nine teams set to play across the upper Midwest.

Those teams are Union Dubuque F.C., RWB Adria (Chicago), DeKalb (Ill.) County United, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Inferno, FC Diablos (Bloomington-Normal, Ill.), and Rockford (Ill.) FC will play in the West. The East boasts Livonia City FC (Mich.), LK St. Clair (Mt. Clemens, Mich.), BiH Grand Rapids (Mich.), and Lansing (Mich.) Common FC.

“This is another big step for independent soccer as we create the foundation for a true open system in this country,” NISA commissioner John Prutch said. “We want independent clubs to have a larger, more unified voice in the future of soccer in this country. Along the way, we are bringing increasingly competitive soccer to every market in the U.S.”