The National Premier Soccer League Thursday announced that Akron City FC has joined the league as an expansion team.

The Akron, Ohio club will begin competition in the Midwest Region in 2022.

“We are excited to announce Akron City FC as an expansion team for the 2022 season,” NPSL managing director Cindy Spera said in a statement. “Akron is a historically great soccer market thanks largely to the success of the University of Akron’s soccer program, as well as its thriving youth soccer community. Northeast Ohio as a whole is one of the most passionate sports markets in the entire country. This is a really exciting time for soccer fans and supporters in Akron.”

The ownership group has worked closely with civic organizations and local stakeholders throughout the process, including The Sports Alliance of Greater Akron, Powered by the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau. Mary Tricaso, director of sales, has been in touch weekly with the ownership group throughout the process.

“Since day one we have been extremely impressed by Akron City’s ownership group,” Tricaso said. “They are entrepreneurs and innovators that boast decades of sports business and media experience and we are extremely confident they’ll deliver on their vision to bring a successful soccer team and operation to Akron.”

Kia Zolgharnain, better known as Kia, will lead the technical direction of the team and have a large input into the player acquisition process. Kia is a highly respected member of the Northeast Ohio soccer community as both a decorated former player and accomplished coach. From 1983-2000 he scored 527 goals in 534 professional indoor appearances with the likes of the Phoenix Pride, Canton Invaders, Kansas City Comets, Tacoma Stars, Pittsburgh Stingers, and Cleveland Crunch. He is best known for his success with the Invaders where he scored an astonishing 324 goals.