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What does NASL lawsuit against U.S. Soccer mean for potential expansion club in DeKalb County?

The ownership group that was working on bringing an NASL team to the area may need to face new options.

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Things have gotten nasty between the North American Soccer League and U.S. Soccer, and that nastiness peaked earlier this week as the NASL filed a lawsuit against the USSF after it was stripped of its Division II status.

How does Atlanta figure into what’s going on?

In section 184 (page 61) of the lawsuit (emphasis added), it’s mentioned that the league was in talks with a ownership group to bring an NASL expansion club to the area. We knew that part already.

Specifically, the NASL represented in its 2018 sanction submission letter to the USSF that an ownership group in New Orleans had entered into a letter of intent to bring a new club to the NASL, and that the league was also in discussions with ownership groups in Detroit and Atlanta, with the goal of finalizing admissions for all of these clubs in 2018. The NASL further advised the USSF that it was in discussions with ownership groups in additional cities.

First Team SC CEO Trey Brantley is at the head of an ownership group that is building a 10,000 seat venue and sporting complex in DeKalb County that would presumably host the club. With things certainly in flux right now with the league, it’s not known whether or not they would still pursue NASL expansion if the league drops down to Division III or open up talks with the USL should the latter retain Division II status.

A couple of people I spoke to that have a little more knowledge than I do feel that should things with the NASL go south, the next step could be having the club join the soon-to-launch National Independent Soccer Association, the new Division III league set to open either next year or in 2019. (Some of the thinking that I’ve personally seen has pointed to that possibility as well.) Again, nothing is set in stone - and we don’t even know if First Team SC has reached out to the NISA - but if they are able to get in, they could enjoy a natural Southern rivalry with Chattanooga and Charlotte, two teams the league has received applications from already. They could also take a flyer on a USL team, but that door might be shut for a while.

It would be nice to know what Brantley and his group had in mind at this point - or the status of Atlanta Sports City, for that matter - but apart from the “Big things are happening” and “We are coming” tweets, this has been their only direct response:

Stay tuned.