CHICAGO – The National Independent Soccer Association Wednesday announced the 2021 spring season will begin with a tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn. April 13-15.

Nine teams will play a home and away competition culminating in playoffs at Keyworth Stadium in Detroit. The spring champion will then play 2020 fall champion Detroit City FC for the 2021 title.

NISA members participating in the tournament include California United Strikers FC, Los Angeles Force, San Diego 1904 FC, Detroit City FC, Michigan Stars FC, Chattanooga FC, Maryland Bobcats FC, New Amsterdam FC and Stumptown Athletic (Charlotte).

The Cosmos, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, are not participating in the NISA this spring season. The team has not announced plans on whether it will return for the fall season or if the franchise will be put up for sale.

But nine other clubs are planning to compete.

“On behalf of myself and our technical staff we are excited about the spring portion of the season for NISA,” Chattanooga FC head coach Peter Fuller said in a statement. “As everyone saw in the fall, our league is strong and there are some incredibly competitive teams. It will be great to resume these rivalries this spring.”

While NISA will continue to follow its successful COVID return-to-play protocol, it is expected reduced capacity will be allowed at Chattanooga’s 20,412-seat W. Max Finley Stadium. Attendance for season and playoffs matches will be determined by clubs following their state guidelines.

“NISA has had an amazing off-season, so far, but we can’t wait to see our member clubs back on the pitch,” NISA commissioner John Prutch said in a statement. “We are excited to welcome Maryland Bobcats FC as well as welcome back both San Diego 1904 and Stumptown Athletic.

“We also are excited at the prospect of welcoming back supporters to the stands. They are the ingredient we all sorely missed last fall. To include them in the NISA experience and to protect the full slate of club participants, we will continue to listen to the experts and take every COVID safety measure available.”

Phase 1: Cup/Tournament play: April 13–25 (Chattanooga)

* Three groups of three clubs

* Culminates with a final

* Winner secures first semifinal spot in playoffs

Phase 2: Home and Away: May 1–June 27

* Each club plays eight matches (four home and four away)

* Table winner secures second semifinal spot in playoffs

Phase 3: Playoffs and final: June 30 – July 3 (Detroit)

* Semifinal: Wednesday, June 30

* Final: Saturday, July 3

Broadcast and streaming information will be announced at a later date.