CHICAGO – It’s official.

Maryland Bobcats FC has joined the National Independent Soccer Association.

The league’s board of directors overwhelmingly approved the club’s membership application, it was announced Tuesday afternoon.

The team is in discussions with NISA to begin competition next spring.

“I congratulate the Maryland Bobcats, their owners, coaches, players and staff on receiving their membership in NISA,” NISA commissioner John Prutch said in a statement. “The Bobcats truly exemplify what it means to be an independent club. They are closely tied to the community and have proven over the years what it takes to rise in the ranks both on and off the pitch.

“This represents a new chapter for their club and supporters, and I couldn’t be happier for them. For NISA, it keeps us on our mission to bring quality professional soccer to every city in the United States.”

The Bobcats became the only men’s professional outdoor soccer team in Maryland and first since Crystal Palace Baltimore dissolved in 2010. They also are the second NISA club with Black ownership to take the pitch – joining 1904 FC. Building an opportunity for minority players, coaches and staff members has been a keystone for the team from the beginning, the league said in a press release.

“This has been 10 years in the making for us and for our community,” Bobcats owner Jide Saba said in a statement. “We share the NISA vision of providing players and coaches a path of professional soccer – of building a true open system based on merit.”

On the heels of winning the United Premier Soccer League National Championship in early 2020 that included an undefeated season, the Bobcats flexed their muscles in the inaugural NISA Independent Cup, earning the Mid-Atlantic Region title while extending the team’s undefeated streak.

The team tentatively is slated to play home games at Maureen Hendricks Field at the SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md.

The Bobcats II play in the Eastern Premier Soccer League, an affiliation with NISA was announced in September.