TAMPA, Fla. – So much for planting any roots in the National Independent Soccer Association.

The United Soccer League Tuesday announced Oakland Roots Sports Club would become a member of the USL Championship for the 2021 season.

Oakland originally was scheduled to compete in the NPSL Founders Cup in 2019 but joined NISA instead.

Founded in July 2018 by six local fans and investors, the team plays at Laney College Stadium. It sold out its first five home games in and welcomed 5,723 fans to its home finale last October.

The team competed in the 2020 NISA spring season, opening at home with a capacity crowd of 5,603 in a 1-1 draw with Chattanooga FC.

Oakland is competing in the NISA fall campaign, and is atop the Western Conference with a 1-0-1 record and four points, with the NISA Fall Tournament slated to kick off Sept. 21.

In response to Oakland leaving the league, this was NISA’s response:

“The National independent Soccer Association (NISA) understands that the Oakland Roots has issued a statement today that they will be joining the USL Championship beginning in 202. We are aware of their decision and have enjoyed them being part of NISA for the past year.”


The USL welcomed Oakland to its league.

“Oakland Roots Sports Club is one of the most impressive and purpose-driven organizations in the United States. We are thrilled to welcome them into the Championship,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a statement. “When we think about the kind of clubs that can help drive our league forward, we look for committed ownership and fantastic community support. With Steven Aldrich, his team, and the city of Oakland, Roots S.C. possess those things in abundance, and we have no doubt they will be a huge success in our league.”

The club has used its reach in the Oakland community to drive progress on social issues. This past June, Roots became the first professional club in the U.S. to join Common Goal, a global initiative begun by Manchester United and Spain midfielder Juan Mata that sees players and clubs contribute a minimum of one percent of their salaries and ticket revenue to fight social inequality.

“We are excited to join the USL Championship in 2021,” Roots chair Aldrich said in a statement. “Playing in the Championship is a great opportunity for the Oakland Roots to continue our journey of using soccer as a force for social good. We can’t wait to showcase the passion, pride, and commitment of our players, fans, and The Town to an even wider audience next year.”

Roots has acquired the franchise rights from USL East Bay.

“This has been a long journey together of nearly five years,” Roots co-founders Benno Nagel and Edreece Arghandiwal said in a joint statement. “We can’t wait to take another step together as we continue to grow our roots.”

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.