By Michael Lewis Editor

Detroit City FC, the poster team for independent professional soccer in the United States, has decided not to be so independent anymore.

On Tuesday, it was announced the three-time defending National Independent Soccer Association champions would join the USL Championship for the 2022 season.

“The momentum behind Detroit City FC is remarkable and a credit to every person who has played a role in the club’s rise,” USL president Jake Edwards said in a statement. “It’s hard to find a better example of bringing a community together through soccer. We welcome the DCFC community and its famed supporters into the USL family, and we look forward to seeing this next phase of the club’s evolution.”

According to a USL press release, “moving to USL Championship will provide Le Rouge national and international exposure via the league’s partnerships with ESPN, SiriusXM Radio. Detroit City FC plans to make stadium upgrades and hire additional staff to better serve players, fans, broadcasters” and media.”

The move did not go down well with NISA, which is in the midst of its fall season.

“They are a quality organization that we wish well – if they respect the legal agreements and obligations the league and the member clubs have forged together,” a league statement said. “Announcing the jump before the season’s end, and not fulfilling its commitment to the 2022 season, brings into question sporting integrity. Also, it should be the baseline that USSF ensures that order, not chaos, exists in the U.S. system.

“NISA, NISA Nation and the NISA Affiliates believe in the mission of creating a true open system based on merit. As a result of these efforts, we have four great, new, independent clubs taking to the pitch this spring; and many more communities will see their independent clubs and players fulfill the dream of completing the path to pro. It is surprising that Detroit City – a historically stalwart supporter of the open system – has chosen “franchise” over ‘club,’ ‘closed’ over ‘open.’ ”

Detroit City FC is admired by many fans and teams that are community driven and run and do not want to be part of a traditional soccer league with an independent fervor and passionate fans who enjoyed backing the organization and team.

Apparently, the powers that be at the club had a change in mind.

This is the third league Detroit City FC has participated in since 2012, when it competed in the National Premier Soccer League. It jumped to NISA in 2019. And now the USL Championship.

“It’s clear that the time is right for Detroit City FC to move forward by joining the USL Championship,” Detroit City FC co-owner and CEO Sean Mann said in a combined statement. “This puts us on track to accomplish many of our shared objectives such as fielding a professional women’s side, enhancing our academy program, upgrading our facilities, and expanding our reach. Since 2012, our vision for Detroit City FC has been to become Detroit’s soccer club for all time.”