The National Premier Soccer League announced Tuesday that the New York Shockers of Albany, N.Y. have joined the league as an expansion team.
The club will begin competition in the East Region in 2021.
“The New York Shockers are just what the NPSL is looking for in the North Atlantic Conference,” NPSL managing director Cindy Spera said in a statement. “They are perfectly positioned geographically, have a strong management group with extensive business and soccer experience, and a top-notch facility that is controlled by the organization. The NPSL is proud to have representation in the capital city of New York State.”
The Shockers’ owner is Afrim Nezaj.
Nezaj, who played professional soccer in the early 1990s, is the owner of Afrim’s Sports. He is a member of the Hall of Fame at SUNY Albany and the Capital Youth District Soccer League.
“We bring an untapped market to the NPSL that is a soccer hotbed in the Northeast,” Nezaj said in a statement. “Our organization has been intertwined with the soccer community for over 25 years, and an NPSL team was the next logical step for the progression of the game in upstate New York.”
Home matches will be held at Afrim’s Sports Park in Albany. The facility was built in 2019 and serves as the home facility for many local youth clubs. In its brief history, Afrim’s Sports Park has hosted NCAA regional finals, Atlantic Coast Conference soccer games and Division I lacrosse games featuring top 25 teams. The stadium at Afrim’s Sports Park features seating for 1,000, a scoreboard and a clubhouse featuring Tavern on the Turf.
“The level of professionalism NPSL has shown throughout the years and the success they have had on and off the field made it an easy decision for us,” Nezaj said.
The Shockers were a Premier Arena Soccer League team that qualified for nationals five out of the seven years of the team’s existence. In 2021, the New York Shockers founded a Women’s Premier Soccer League team that will compete in the Metropolitan Division.
“We are all excited to have the New York Shockers join the NPSL,” NPSL director of membership development Dina Case said. “The Albany market is a great fit for the league and amateur soccer. We are also pleased with the strong business and soccer acumen that the New York Shockers ownership is bringing to the table, and we are confident they will find great success in this market.”