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NASL expansion teams coming to San Diego, Orange County

The most credible report yet!

SOCCER: OCT 09 NASL - Strikers at RailHawks Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The North American Soccer League has survived, at least according to the latest news on Friday night, with the U.S. Soccer Federation deciding to provisionally sanction both USL and NASL as Division II leagues for 2017, with no men’s pro league currently sanctioned as Division III. It’s a step up for USL, who were previously Division III, and a retaining of the status quo for the NASL, who have been rumored to be on the edge of dissolving for several weeks.

In the wake of that news, a new report from ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle on Friday says that the NASL will get two local expansion teams for the 2017 season.*

Multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN FC that the NASL will play its spring season with eight teams. In the short term, Jacksonville will continue as a league run team with a new owner hopefully coming on board before the start of the season. In addition to Jacksonville and the Cosmos, the other six teams will be comprised of Indy Eleven, North Carolina FC (formerly the Carolina RailHawks), Puerto Rico FC, Miami FC, FC Edmonton, and expansion side the San Francisco Deltas. The sources confirmed that three more teams in Atlanta, San Diego, and Orange County, Calif. will join the NASL for the fall season (emphasis mine).

Update, Jan. 8: Carlisle clarified that report in a tweet on Saturday, saying the 2017 timeline for expansion was not correct.

This report follows on the heels of a report last month by The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter, who got soccer executive Peter Wilt to say on the record he was consulting with two potential NASL expansion groups in Orange County and San Diego.

While Carlisle’s report is just that, the credibility of two reputable writers in recent weeks running similar reports indicates this is credible, if not necessarily a 100 percent done deal. Obviously we have heard about NASL expansion to Southern California a half dozen times in the last five years, and until this point nothing has happened. But Carlisle is very credible, so this looks like a solid bet at this point.

So now we have to wait and see if and when official announcements are made about NASL expansion to San Diego and Orange County, especially if these teams are planning to play in a matter of months. You can be sure we’ll have more coverage on this as the story develops.

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